Dear Pelham Community,
At last Wednesday’s Board of Education Meeting, members of the District’s Cultural Competence Committee (CCC) shared an update on their work throughout the school year and presented recommendations for furthering the work under our Strategic Plan’s goal of cultivating an empathetic, inclusive and equitable school community that values and encourages respect, voice and agency for all.
Throughout the 2020-21 school year, the Cultural Competence Committee has been working in subgroups in five key areas to determine short term (1-2 years) and long term (3-5 years) recommendations for consideration by the Board of Education and Administration. The recommendations were developed with the goal of improving the school experience for all students, regardless of their culture, which the New York State Board of Regents defines as: “the multiple components of one’s identity, including but not limited to: race, economic background, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, and ability.”
The subcommittees focused on the topics of:
- Equity Policy and Hiring Practices
- Data Analysis
- Curriculum and Professional Learning
- Community and Family Engagement
- Student Equity Leader Empowerment
In introducing the presentation, Dr. Champ explained that Cultural Competence/Diversity has been a priority in the District since at least 2011 when a Diversity Task Force was formed to examine the root causes of achievement gaps in Pelham across demographic groups and to plan action steps to address them. This diversity work was implemented alongside the 2014-19 Strategic Plan incorporating efforts to promote a positive school culture, celebrate diversity and foster a sense of inclusion for all.
The school community’s desire to continue this focus was reaffirmed during the Strategic Planning process in 2018 leading to the inclusion of Cultural Competence as a goal area in the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. Further, the New York State Board of Regents adopted a draft framework and call to action in April 2021 imploring all school districts in the State to develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion as a priority in their schools. Importantly, Dr. Champ noted that Critical Race Theory, which has been a topic recently receiving media attention, is not being taught in the Pelham schools, nor are there plans to do so.
The full list of recommendations is available as part of the CCC’s report issued to the Board of Education and can also be seen in the presentation slides. The meeting video has also been posted so the community can view the presentation.
The Board and Administration are expected to consider these recommendations when setting goals for the 2021-22 school year, and then will begin implementation of short-term action items. Throughout the course of next school year, the status of these recommendations will be monitored by the CCC with periodic progress reports delivered to the Board.
The Pelham Public Schools