OPINION: Anti-Bias Training & Accountability for Teachers Needed for Integration Plan to Work

by Rhea Mokund-Beck
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Since the inception of SOMD’s Intentional Integration Plan, concerned parents have asked a very basic question: What is being done to prepare teachers across the district to be ready to welcome and concerned about the educational outcomes of our Black students?

We have asked this question of Dr Ficcara, former Interim Superintendent. We have asked this question at the short lived Integration Committee led by now retired Karen Weiland and Ann Bodnar, now Director, K-8 Curriculum & Instruction.

We have asked this question of Dr Taylor.

Thus far there has been no substantive response.

Integration refers to a process where members of different racial groups experience fair and equitable treatment within a desegregated environment. Integration is the step that comes after desegregation and no algorithm alone can make our schools an integrated space.

I was disappointed but not surprised to hear from Board Member Courtney Winkfield at the March Board meeting that per available data, Black students this school year are almost 200 percent more likely to be assigned a failing grade by at least one teacher than their white peers. Unless the district is prepared to submit that Black students are simply incapable of learning in a virtual environment, we can extrapolate that there continues to be an egregious disconnect between Black students and those charged with educating them.

Dr Taylor points to ‘no silver bullets’ and ‘no quick fix’ in his presentation to the BOE last evening. But really unless there is transparent, well resourced, ongoing anti bias training coupled with real accountability for teachers then I would humbly recommend that SOMSD be more precise and refer to this plan as a Desegregation Algorithm and not an Intentional Integration Plan.

Rhea Mokund-Beck is a parent activist focused on inclusion and equity.

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