This policy was adopted by the Watervliet City School District Board of Education May 10, 2022
The Board of Education is committed to creating and maintaining a positive and inclusive learning environment where all students, especially those currently and historically marginalized, feel safe, included, welcomed, and valued, and experience a sense of belonging and academic success. Research shows that all students benefit when schools implement strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies and practices.
This policy provides a framework as to how the District will foster DEI in its schools. It is just one component of the District’s overall commitment to maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive educational and work environment.
Generally Accepted Beliefs and Agreements
All children deserve to have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of the color of their skin, gender, sexual orientation, spoken language, economic status, or ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic background. This freedom is fundamental to our Pre-K-12 education program and is extended to everyone without exception. An education that acknowledges that students have been historically marginalized due to inequities associated with aspects of their identities and their intersectionality, racism, discrimination, and marginalization of any people or groups of people, whether intentional or not, have no place in our schools, our district or our community. Such actions damage not only those individuals and groups at which they are directed, but also our community as a whole. We are committed to addressing these inequities and helping each and every student to equitably access learning opportunities in school to enable all students to thrive and to build a better society.
For purposes of this policy:
- “Diversity” includes, but is not limited to: race; color; ethnicity; nationality; religion; socioeconomic status; veteran status; education; marital status; language; age; gender; gender expression; gender identity; sexual orientation; mental or physical ability; genetic information; and learning style.
- “Equity” includes, but is not limited to, seeking the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of all groups.
- “Inclusion” includes, but is not limited to, authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision/policy making in a way that shares power and ensures equal access to opportunities and resources.
These descriptions are not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, they are meant to be foundational and provide clarity to the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The goal of the district is to provide equitable, inclusive and diverse opportunities for all students to reach their highest potential. To achieve educational equity that is also inclusive, the district acknowledges the presence of culturally diverse students and the need for students to find meaningful, relevant connections among themselves and the subject matter of lessons. The district will develop individual and organizational knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices to create culturally responsive and inclusive working environments that support high expectations for students and employees from all backgrounds. Differences will not just be seen as strengths, but they will be valued, celebrated, and welcomed because they are what make individuals unique.
It is imperative that the Board, its officers, and employees be conversant in the historical injustices and inequalities that have shaped our society and to recognize and eliminate institutional barriers, including racism and biases
Teaching and Learning
The Superintendent or designee(s) will ensure that curriculum and instructional materials reflect the Board’s commitment to educational equity, reflect diversity, and include a range of perspectives and experiences, particularly those of historically underserved and underrepresented groups. Curriculum materials shall be examined for bias and instructional activities and extracurricular programs shall be designed to provide opportunities for cross-curricular, cross-cultural interactions that foster respect for diversity. The district will advance inclusive and culturally responsive teaching and learning through, but not limited to, the following: curricula in all content areas; books and instructional materials; pedagogical practices and professional development; classroom grouping practices; student support systems; equitable opportunities; and multiple assessment measures.
Diversity in education views the diversity among students, staff, families, and community as an asset. Embracing these differences and moving beyond tolerance and celebration to inclusivity and mutual respect will help the district reach a goal of creating a community that ensures that each and every voice is heard and valued.
Educational equity is based on the principles of fairness and ensuring that every student has access to the resources and academic rigor they need, despite any individual’s actual or perceived personal characteristics.
Inclusive education is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings and the broader environment.
The district will foster diversity in education, educational equity, and inclusive education by creating student-centered learning environments that:
- Affirm cultural identities;
- Foster positive academic outcomes;
- Develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference;
- Evaluate historically marginalized voices;
- Empower students as agents of social change; and
- Contribute to student engagement, learning, growth, and achievement through the cultivation of critical thinking.
The Board, its officers and employees accept the responsibility and commitment to maintain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment where all individuals feel valued and respected. To this end, the Superintendent will establish a district-wide Equity Task Force that meets periodically throughout the year. This committee will include representation from the following groups:
- District/building administrators
- Teachers, including at least one special education teacher and at least one ENL teacher;
- Guidance staff;
- Community members.
The district-wide task force will assist the district in developing and implementing specific plans, programs, and initiatives that advance the district’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This may include the adoption and/or revision of policies and implementation of practices designed to prevent discrimination, assure equitable access to high quality educational staff, facilities and materials, and maximize achievement for all students.
Accountability, Transparency and Review
The Superintendent , or designee, will adopt goals and corresponding metrics related to this policy. The district will identify multiple indicators necessary to monitor student outcomes, engagement, school climate, and the specific data that will be used to ensure accountability for student, school, and district-wide performance; to reduce variability in outcomes specifically as it relates to students that we have historically failed, like Black and Brown students; and to ensure that academic outcomes will not be predictable by actual or perceived personal characteristics. Transparent reporting of these indicators may include, but is not limited to, detentions, referrals, suspension and expulsion reports; the percentage of students placed in English as a New Language (ENL), College in the High School, PTech, remedial classes, intervention services, and referrals to Special Education; as well as student, employee, parent, and student perceptions about the school environment.
With committee input, the Superintendent will develop and implement a plan for ensuring equitable educational opportunities are provided to all students. In addition, training programs will be established for students, and annually for employees, to raise awareness of cultural responsiveness, equity, and inclusion.
The Board of Education and the Superintendent will monitor and review the district’s metrics and equity activities to determine the extent of progress made toward attaining the goals of this policy; whether this policy is having a positive effect on improving academic opportunities for all students and increasing family engagement; as well as whether this policy is assisting in closing achievement gaps. Based on results, this policy, and the specific objectives set to meet its goals, may be revised as needed.
It is imperative that all members of the school community are aware of this policy, its purpose, procedures, and the district’s commitment to equity and inclusion by fostering a positive learning environment that embraces all diverse, unique, and individual differences.
The Superintendent, or designee(s), will communicate this policy to students, staff, and the community. The district will post this policy on the district website and share information via district-wide communications, as appropriate.
Equity Statement of Commitment – #24United
The Watervliet City School District stands together with the 24 school districts that comprise the Capital Region BOCES region in our shared responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized. It is our commitment that the diverse experiences and perspectives of our students, families and staff will be recognized, reflected and embraced in our educational institutions.
While our 24 school communities in the Capital Region each have a unique makeup, we all share one commonality: Our desire to provide an equitable educational experience that ensures opportunities and the necessary support for success for all students. It is our pledge to embrace the diverse experiences, values, beliefs, backgrounds and perspectives of our communities as we endeavor to prepare our students for the society they will encounter in life beyond our school systems.
Our commitment to equity and inclusion
This statement supports the ongoing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work in Watervliet schools.
District administrators, teachers and staff have participated in professional development around DEI and have worked together on DEI committees at the elementary school and the junior-senior high school to identify and implement approaches to ensure a more equitable, inclusive, and safe learning community for all.