LOSD works towards anti-racism and equity initiatives

Sophia Wang, Editor-In-Chief

Following the intensification of the recent racial justice movements across the nation, some students and staff members have been taking local action to work towards anti-racism and equity in Lake Oswego schools. Teresa Sanchez, Equity and Family Engagement Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), has contributed to a variety of initiatives with the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA) Advisory Committee. 

The school equity team’s focus for this year is incorporating anti-bias and anti-racist training into professional development. In addition to monthly workshops, the district will start offering new equity learning circles for staff to engage in deeper discussions. To further guide the implementation of these principles into school curriculum, anti-racism and social justice supplemental lessons have been posted on the DEIA webpage here to offer guidance to K-12 teachers.

Other initiatives involving LOHS staff include BARWE (Building Anti-Racist White Educators) and Diverse@LOSD. The latter initiative is a new system of affinity groups for teachers and staff who identify as members of historically underrepresented, marginalized groups to create what Sanchez describes as “a supportive community of training, learning, advocacy and radical self-care for diverse staff, and educators.”

LOSD is also in the process of developing a DEIA implementation plan to support the equity policy and Strategic Plan. The main goal of the plan is to align with and support the Strategic Plan goals of creating a culture of belonging, achieving equitable outcomes, promoting health and resiliency and teaching and practicing sustainability. Various objectives (i.e. Develop a diverse and inclusive curriculum centered in anti-racist education) are included, along with actionable goals, person(s) responsible, timeline, and measure of success for each.

The plan will include metrics to measure progress towards the main goals. Examples suggested in the draft include YouthTruth survey results to measure a sense of belonging, incident reports, percentages of staff completing mandatory training and percentages of staff of color. The plan, however, is still in development and receiving stakeholder input, so the specific metrics that will be published have not been decided yet.

The All Students Belong policy (by the Oregon Department of Education) is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, which will prohibit the display of hate symbols in schools and offer a bias incident report form on the DEIA web page. The new bias incident report system will include the documentation of all investigations and outcomes. The plan also emphasizes non-punitive remedial measures like educational opportunities and support planning for those causing harm (except in severe cases). For those harmed, the district plans to offer counseling and an individualized safety plan. 

“My personal vision for the future of the Lake Oswego School District is that it becomes a learning community with a strong sense of belonging for everyone, and where equitable opportunities are provided to all students,” Sanchez said.