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Turlock school district considers new equity policy

A new policy presented to the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday would place an emphasis on equity for all of the District’s over 13,800 students, if adopted.

The policy, adopted from the California School Boards Association, aims to eliminate disparities in educational outcomes from students from historically underserved and underrepresented populations by proactively identifying class and cultural biases as well as practices, policies and institutional barriers that negatively influence student learning.

“This policy addresses all aspects of equity by valuing diversity and implementing practices through decision-making, allocating resources and creating opportunities for students of every background including foster youth, homeless, Hispanic, African American, Muslim, Christian, gay, transgender, high or low socioeconomic,” said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Heidi Lawler.

The policy includes allocating resources in a manner that provides all students with equitable access to District programs, support services and opportunities for success. It also calls for the District to adopt curriculum that accurately reflects the diversity among student groups and promotes employment of a diverse staff that reflects that demographics of the community.

According to Lawler, the District’s Equity Task Force has already begun much of the work outlined in the policy. The task force has also already identified areas of focus for the 2018-19 school year: Providing unconscious bias training for staff; supporting students in subgroups who traditionally have high levels of absenteeism and discipline and lower levels of academic achievement; and increasing communication with our schools and community regarding these efforts.

“When we speak our message of ‘all means all’ our work to support every student involves the intent of this policy as we systematically develop procedures and practices to ensure an inclusive environment in every aspect of TUSD,” said Lawler.

This policy comes almost a year after members of the community asked the Board of Trustees to adopt a resolution condemning hate groups. Derogative social media posts created by local high school students in 2017 sparked a heated discussion about race relations in Turlock among students and community members alike. Also in 2017, Turlock had several incidents of racist propaganda being put up around town on light poles, stop signs and other public right of ways. 

 “I’m so excited about this emphasis and awareness and just movement toward action that is unfolding,” said Trustee Lori Carlson about the equity policy.

The policy will come before the Board of Trustees as a voting action on the consent calendar at their Aug. 21 meeting.