After determining that most of the internships in Ector County’s ISD Disciplinary Alternative Education program were African American students, the district examines the data to determine why.
Superintendent Scott Muri said black students make up 4 percent of the ECISD’s student population. Last year, a report to the school board found that 50 percent of black students accounted for half of the disciplinary placements.
ECISD is 77 percent Spanish.
“And so you start peeling off the onion layers and you find that in this case some of our African American students are committing the same offense as other students of other races, but their consistency is tougher. It’s the same offense, but with more severe consequences. And why is that … If I am a black student and … a white student or a Spanish student skips class, why is the consequence different? It shouldn’t be different, but what we’ve seen is that our African American students, their consequences for the same crimes were tougher and that’s wrong; That’s wrong, ”said Muri.
He added that there was something wrong with the system in this case. When you see a data point like this, Muri said, you’ll want to unpack it to fully understand why these things are happening.
“… It is our responsibility to keep our children safe and that enables us to do so,” said Muri.
In a previous district where Muri worked, they found that their students were underrepresented as a second language in the dyslexia program. So you wondered if that means that as an ESL student you can’t be dyslexic. But that wasn’t the problem.
“The problem was that our educators, our ESL teachers, didn’t know how to identify ESL students as dyslexic. We hadn’t trained them in these skills. … After we completed the teacher training, the number of our ESL students classified as dyslexic reflected the number of our non-ESL students. But we would never have known if we hadn’t looked at the data. And that’s exactly what it is, ”said Muri.
The district contracted Hanover Research, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, to conduct an equity review to ensure that the needs of children and families were being met.
The survey costs $ 65,000. “… We look at our entire system. The survey was only part of our job. They analyze the survey results and then look at … a variety of data within the ECISD – academic data, discipline data, special Ed data, ESL data, just a variety of different data items that they will access … help us tell the story, what happens, ”said Muri.
“What does this data say? Do we miss things with children? Are there subsets of students who are not getting the support or services they need? Do we have some groups that are performing below average or differently because of something? They will shed light on things that we need to see as a district, similar to a year and a half ago when we saw the discipline data, we threw a light on them, ”said Muri.
“They will help us determine if there are any other anomalies in our organization that need attention …” he added.
Stock tests, he said, have been going on across the country and have been for decades. “… In fact, we have been fighting for justice for our students in public education for many, many, many years. We see our children of poverty, you know, we know that it costs more money to raise a child of poverty. And sometimes our children in poverty do not have the same opportunities to be successful. And so we pay attention to it. Sometimes our fragile children are at risk. Children don’t have the opportunities they need to be successful. So an equity check is a way to see if you have subsets of children or populations who just don’t have the opportunities they need and who deserve to be successful, ”he said. Muri admitted that some students who cannot sit still or have other behavioral problems enter special education. “It happens. And we see all kinds of situations and have historically been in education. What we need to realize when that happens are there are things we have to do organizationally to respond. Special education is a wonderful program for children with very specific conditions. It’s not a place for every child; it’s not a place for discipline problems.… It’s a place for children with learning difficulties and learning challenges, and we have teachers and specific supports who can help these children be just as successful be, if not more, successful than children who don’t face these challenges, ”he said.
Muri said the district would wait for the exam results and respond “to all possible situations.”
He sometimes said that this means that a particular area may need more funding, such as B. Special Education or Students of Poverty.
“Sometimes it is a professional development, a certain type of training for teachers or administrators, consultants, etc. Sometimes you make staff adjustments. We may need different types of child support or different types of employee support. But the mean really depends on what data … the challenge is that we are facing us as an organization, ”said Muri.
The unconscious bias training for all 4,200 ECISD employees started last year and is ongoing. In the week of May 24, there was a leadership training course for executives.
Another example of fairness was in March last year when ECISD switched to distance learning.
“We faced a huge equity challenge and it was kids who didn’t have internet access at home and kids who didn’t have devices… In March and April we printed thousands of packages and the only reason we had to do that because our children and families didn’t have these tools. Our opportunity as a school district was to address this issue immediately, ”said Muri.
The situation also showed that teachers rely on students to have internet access in their homes.
“… you may be giving a task that kids need to research … and kids need to develop some kind of presentation. However, we expect children to have internet access and a device at home. And it became very clear that this is just not the reality. And at that point, 39% of our kids didn’t have it. It’s very different today. We have addressed many of the justice issues the pandemic has created in the lives of our children and families. “
“… It’s a different way of thinking about justice, especially with our families in poverty. If they don’t have the resources they need, school is different for them. They are at an unfair disadvantage and we as a district have to be responsible for ensuring that every child, no matter who they are, has the same success in life, ”said Muri. “Again, the pandemic just … highlighted the fact that there are significant inequalities in our own community and we are responsible for ensuring that they do not affect our children and their learning.” Although he said he could not provide details, Muri said that any family in ECISD who so desires will have high-speed internet access in their home.
“We’re offering this from SpaceX to our local cable company. So if you live in the city, every family has access today and every child has their own wireless device, either an iPad or a Chromebook.”