Dexter Community Schools work on being a culturally responsive school district

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When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Dexter Community Schools are looking to put words into action.

In follow up to the decision made on June 29 to adopt Anti-Racist Principles and Practices and to be a Culturally Responsive School District, the DCS Board of Education held a workshop on Oct. 12 with a presentation called, “What Racism Looks Like.”

To learn more about this, The Sun Times News followed up with school board president Julie Schumaker, who said the board held a workshop on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion facilitated by Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews, Chair of Teacher Education at Michigan State University.

“The workshop was an initial step taken by the board to begin to identify, review, and plan the work needed to put that resolution into action,” Schumaker said.

One part of the June 29 resolution states:

“WHEREAS, we commit to implementing the four behaviors essential to create Culturally Responsive School Environments (Critical self-awareness, culturally responsive curricula and teacher preparation, culturally responsive and inclusive school environments, and engaging students and parents in community contexts); WHEREAS, we commit to training our school leaders in creating school improvement plans and cultural plans to support Diversity Belonging Inclusion and Equity practice at the building level; WHEREAS, we commit to engaging the Dexter Community in active dialogue and action toward achieving our developing Diversity Belonging Inclusion and Equity vision;”

Schumaker said the district is also in the process of surveying and interviewing students and families who are from underrepresented and multi-racial backgrounds to learn from their experiences.

“Further efforts will involve administrators, staff, students, and parents to help the district develop and implement a strategic plan to become a more culturally responsive school district,” said Schumaker.

During the “What Racism Looks Like” presentation, institutional racism was defined in an effort to give the board a better understanding.

“Institutional racism is distinguished from the explicit attitudes or racial bias of individuals by the existence of systematic policies or laws and practices that provide differential access to goods, services and opportunities of society by race. Institutional racism results in data showing racial gaps across every system. For children and families it affects where they live, the quality of the education they receive, their income, types of food they have access to, their exposure to pollutants, whether they have access to clean air, clean water or adequate medical treatment, and the types of interactions they have with the criminal justice system.”

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