Santa Rosa City Schools Equity Initiative
Santa Rosa City Schools, Sonoma County
Santa Rosa City Schools is leading the way with its exemplary Equity Initiative changing policies, practices and district climate to better serve Latino students and English learners. Courageous conversations have led to bold action. Staff and other stakeholders enthusiastically embrace training to learn about their cultures, the culture of their students and the unconscious bias that may impede how they interact with and teach some kids. The staff shares disaggregated data and engages in passionate discussion about root research–based best practices for meeting the needs of Latino students and English Learners and closing gaps between them and their fluent English peers. Across the district, conversations have changed from how students are underperforming to how adults may be unintentionally underserving students who matter.
This was not how I viewed the whole unconscious bias training the district has had. And what is meant by “students who matter”? Don’t they all matter?
Mind you, “best practices” this semester meant putting 10 non-English speaking kids in a regular 11th grade US History class. So, 10 kids who don’t speak much English, have no prior knowledge to draw on, and they’re with 20+ kids who do speak English. A bilingual aide was hired. There were no materials, and the district told us you can’t segregate children and presented it as giving these students “access to the curriculum.” Antonin Scalia was correct when he said “Words no longer have meaning…”
When I pointed out the ridiculousness of this set up, the district changed it around and blamed the previous ELD coordinator, who retired last June. You know, after vigorously defending their plan. To quote Scalia again, “pure applesauce.”