We will learn from others.
While “achievement gaps” are not isolated to Kirkwood, there are districts, communities, and organizations that are consistently more successful in ensuring the success of all students. It is imperative that we extend our reach beyond our school walls, listen to those in our community, and learn from those across the region. The work of the Task Force must continue into future years as we study others and explore how successful practices may improve our work in Kirkwood. Our initial recommendations are listed below.
- We will engage in regular conversations about race at each school and across learning settings, fostering a culture that values honest sharing and collaboration and embraces opportunities for growth. Isolated work is not enough – among teachers, departments, or even schools. Courageous conversations and innovative practices must be normal practice in all buildings and across our system if our culture is to change and true progress will be seen. Diverse voices must be at the table when decisions are being made to impact students of our district.
- We will engage in aggressive outreach to learn from those within our community, starting with interviews of students, parents, teachers, alumni and members of our community. This work should begin with but not be limited to people of color, as we seek to understand and learn from their experiences in Kirkwood and/or other districts or organizations.
- We will identify and learn from teachers, schools, and organizations, regionally and beyond, that are achieving at high levels and/or doing innovative things in support of African-American achievement. Quality ideas can be found locally – even within our district – but we cannot be limited by silo thinking or outreach grounded in 20th Century ideas. Digital resources afford real-time opportunities to connect with and learn from people anywhere in the world.
- We will engage teachers, administrators, parents, and students in collaborative, on-site observations and conversations around effective practices, when possible paired with those seeing success in other settings. Outreach should encompass those in public, charter, and private school settings and innovative professionals outside the field of education.
- We will study leadership practices, expectations, and communication in successful schools and districts. Principals and district administrators will visit schools and organizations beyond our district and have regular contact with successful leaders outside of education.
- We will identify partnerships with universities, businesses, and other schools/organizations that may be mutually beneficial and further African-American opportunities and achievement.
- We will study and discuss readings and research about best practices, including reports and recommendations from other organizations, to further identify gaps in our work and opportunities for growth.
- We will utilize digital media to connect with and learn from others, both locally and beyond our region.