On June 9th, 2020, the City of Charleston created the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Conciliation "focused on the creation of measurable outcomes, promotion of greater accountability, and coordination of community wide efforts to achieve racial equity in our community."
In August, 2021, the SCEIRC released its recommendations. The complete, official document can be found here. In the interest of public consumption, we have translated the hard-to-read tables embedded in the report into bullet-pointed lists.
Each of the following areas of SCEIRC focus are outlined in separate posts:
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Economic Empowerment
- Health Disparities and Environmental Justice
- History and Culture
- Housing and Mobility
- Internal Review
- Youth and Education
This post is dedicated to Youth and Education and contains the stated Long-term goals, Objectives, Strategies, and Actions from the report.
The report contains the following additional details for each Action: Performance Measures, Evaluation Tools, Lead Staff, Oversight, and Due Date. Those have been omitted here for brevity.
LONG-TERM GOAL: The City of Charleston understands why racial equity is an integral part of the organization's approach inside and outside the organization.
OBJECTIVE: Develop racial equity competency to better inform decision making processes
- Strategy: City leadership and employees at all levels increase awareness, knowledge, shared commitment to anti-racism.
- Implement racial equity training at all levels that includes pillars of critical race theory
- Conduct research that includes interviews, listening sessions, inputs, and funding.
- City staff collect relevant data, coordinate data systems to understand and track needs and impacts
- Use resolutions and declarations to prioritize, elevate and evaluate racial equity
- All city departments and offices implement racial equity plans
- Strategy: Require racial equity audit of all city departments
- Action: Audit all city departments to determine where inequities may exist within the department and in the services provided
- Strategy: Codify the Special Commission on Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Conciliation
- Action: Make the SCEIRC a standing committee
LONG-TERM GOAL: Develop a more robust programmatic partnership with Charleston County School District to help advance racial equity in local schools.
OBJECTIVE: Redesign curriculum and disciplinary procedures that reinforce systemic racism
- Strategy: Memorandum of Understanding with Charleston County School District
- Support cultural competency work and changes to curriculum i.e. 1619 Project
- Bridge the gap in family and community engagement
- Official partnership with the Office of Family & Community Engagement
- Increase student participation in City of Charleston youth programming and recreation programs
- Incorporate remote location PODS for youth and families in need
- Participate in restorative practice training to be implemented in all City of Charleston programming
- Establish and support community schools throughout Charleston to better provide wraparound services that incorporate equitable practices
- Examine how public education is funded and advocate for changes to the existing funding formula in order to ensure resources and services are delivered in an equitable manner.
- Develop a more meaningful partnership with Charleston County School District and hold them accountable for the achievement gap and opportunity gap that continues to plague underserved Black and Brown students.
- Examine all forms of high quality K-12 public education to include charter schools and magnet schools and play a more active role in attracting and brokering partnerships in order to disrupt the cycle of poor academic outcomes
- Play an active role in recruiting and supporting high quality teachers who understand pillars of Critical Race Theory and by working with the Charleston County School District to provide more affordable housing options.
- Strategy: Provide additional mental health support for students of color
- Action: Students with better mental health not only have greater overall well-being but also greater education attainment. Hiring more racially diverse and culturally competent mental health professionals, increasing funding to resources such as telehealth options and anti-racist programs, and collecting and disaggregating data can all help schools make mental health services more accessible and specific to BIPOC student needs.
- Strategy: Incorporation of CDF Freedom Schools throughout City of Charleston
- Increased partnerships with black and brown led organizations
- Increased partnerships with faith-based organizations
- Increased partnerships with CCSD
- Incorporates family and community engagement
- Includes culturally relevant curriculum
- Flexibility to include education around other systems impacting equity and inclusion
- Incorporate anti-racism mini sessions with family and community members
LONG-TERM GOAL: Examine how the role of public education funding and the Act of Consolidation have impacted the lives of Black and Brown students.
OBJECTIVE: Provide additional resources to the schools that have been historically underfunded and understaffed
- Strategy: Examine new and innovative funding models for CCSD
- Audit other citiy funding models and determine best practices i.e. City run schools, deconsolidation.
- Conduct authentic community engagement to co-produce a model that will meet the needs of the community we are serving
The report contains the following introduction before listing the recommendations:
The enclosed initial recommendations are the result of six months of biweekly meetings and extensive hours of research.
History reveals that throughout the formation of the public education system, students and families of color have been largely excluded from the decision- making process that has shaped the way that the current system functions. This becomes especially apparent as one considers that in the 384 year history of public education, people of color have only been able to freely access public education for 17% of the time that schools have existed in America. Access is emphasized because Brown vs. Board of Education prompted the end of segregation in schools but did not ensure that families of color could participate in decision-making processes at the school, district, state, and federal levels.
Black students are rarely represented in school curricula. When they are shown Black people are generally represented by pain and not by their full humanity. Curricula that reflect Black, Indigenous, People of Color are typically stereotypical and inauthentic. Black students face the most consequences, followed by students with disabilities, and are disciplined at the highest rates, for the same offense as white students. Typically, this is based on non-violent behaviors. Schools where black students and students of color are the majority, have a high police presence and far more police officers than counselors. Black students are more likely to be arrested at school than any other group of students. Schools are more likely to bring a black police officer for “inclusion” than a restorative justice approach.
There are some common practices shared by schools identified as providing personalized and equitable education. Those schools commonly have a school wide emphasis on equity. School leaders personalized professional development for teachers in an effort to teach them how to personalize instruction for their students. Data is disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and other student characteristics. When data are disaggregated, it allows disparities across group outcomes to become more apparent so that inequitable practices can be addressed and changed (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2016).
In every situation, school leaders and staff members ask themselves, “who has a seat at the decision making table and who is missing?” If there are perspectives missing from that table (i.e. parents, students, individuals of color), equity- focused leaders ensure that groups are brought into the conversation and included in decisions that will affect students. School leaders, staff, and community members should define and talk about equity on a regular basis.
The goal of this subcommittee is to provide recommendations that can create substantial change and help to dismantle oppressive systems by creating a mechanism that holds our local education system accountable by naming, acknowledging, and interrogating when white supremacy shows up in our education spaces.
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