Plan provides next steps in ongoing equity initiative
information provided by District 215
CALUMET CITY, Ill. (July 29, 2020) – At their July 28, 2020 regular meeting, the Thornton Fractional District 215 Board of Education adopted an Equity Plan of Action as part of an ongoing equity initiative in the district. The plan “acknowledges the historic, persistent, and pervasive disparities between the educational performance of White students and Students of Color as unacceptable.”
The District 215 Equity Plan of Action states, “Closing the performance gap through the development of an equitable learning environment where all students thrive is the top priority of the Board of Education, Superintendent, Administration, and all District 215 staff.” The plan also cites the district’s equity statement, which was adopted as District 215 policy by the Board of Education in May of 2019:
District 215 is committed to an overall culture of equity where the creation and implementation of policy, the allocation of resources, and access to opportunity are intentionally aligned to meet the needs of all student groups, regardless of: race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, home or first language, religion, national origin, immigration status, age, or physical appearance.
Goals, actions, and metrics
The following goals are set forth in the D215 Equity Plan of Action, while also noting the actions that will be taken to achieve each goal and the metrics that will be used to assess the achievement of each goal:
- Goal 1: All students will have access to high-quality, rigorous, culturally relevant instruction, curriculum, and educational experiences.
- Goal 2: All staff will engage in professional learning that examines racial and cultural identity and its impact on teaching, learning, and belief systems.
- Goal 3: The District will increase community partnerships and family involvement in the educational environment.
- Goal 4: The District shall ensure hiring practices effectively recruit diverse candidates and develop supports for staff retention.
Superintendent Dr. Sophia Jones-Redmond, who was appointed on May 26 and officially took over the role on July 1, said, “I am so pleased that the Equity Plan of Action was adopted by the Board of Education. I am impressed by the equity work the district has accomplished over the past 18 months, and I’m excited to be a part of moving the work forward.”
Other steps toward equity
The District 215 Equity Plan of Action follows several other steps taken by Thornton Fractional District 215 Board over the past year or more regarding equity in District 215. In the spring of 2019, the Board of Education formed an equity committee of the board to formalize and move forward the equity work within the district. The equity committee subsequently formed an equity sub-committee in the fall of 2019 composed of administrators, staff, parents, and students who meet to help advise the board’s equity committee work and agenda. The establishment of an ad hoc committee that will specifically focus on the recruitment and retention of minority staff began in the spring of 2020. The ad hoc committee also includes administration, staff, students, parents, and board members. The ad hoc committee will begin meeting this fall following a delay due to COVID-19 and the transition to a new superintendent, Dr. Jones-Redmond.
District 215 has also been engaged in a comprehensive curriculum rewrite that includes a focus on including more voices and representations of People of Color. At last night’s Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to renew a contract with Curriculum Management Solutions Inc., a curriculum consultant that will help audit the content and implementation of District 215’s curriculum rewrite, tailoring the audit to include the district’s focus on cultural relevancy in the curriculum.
Other steps taken in the past two years include:
- Supporting an initiative to increase access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses
- Adding multiple new AP courses
- Allocating funding so that students can take AP exams for college credit at no cost
Additionally, a partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools that began in the fall of 2019 has helped District 215 identify students of color and low-income students who qualify for, but are missing from Advanced Placement courses.
This summer, the D215 Board issued a statement of solidarity in response to the racially motivated incidents occurring throughout the U.S. and supported an online event for African-American, male students of District 215 that provided a safe space for conversation on recent events. As well, the Board recently initiated a student survey of TF South students regarding the pursuit of a name change from the school team name/nickname of “Rebels.”
In addition to adopting the District 215 Equity Plan of Action at their July meeting, The Board of Education also voted to form a Student Equity Leadership Club at each school and adopted a resolution on racial justice that mirrored that of the Illinois State Board of Education.
Michael Bolz, District 215 Board President, said, “I am proud to be a part of Board that has done meaningful work to help our district achieve an equitable educational environment for our students. Our administrators and staff have firmly supported and contributed to this work as well, and for that, I am truly grateful.”
Documents and further information detailing the equity initiatives found above can be found on the District 215 website at www.tfd215.org/aboutus/commitment-to-equity/.
About Thornton Fractional High School District 215
District 215 serves the students of Burnham, Calumet City, Lansing, and Lynwood at Thornton Fractional North High School, Thornton Fractional South High School, Thornton Fractional Center for Academics and Technology, and Thornton Fractional Center for Alternative Learning. The mission of District 215 is to provide diverse learning opportunities that inspire all students to become life-long learners who contribute to their community.