A Call for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Deerfield Community Schools

A Call for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Deerfield Community Schools

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Savannah Wery started this petition to Deerfield School Board and

We, the students, family members of students, faculty, and alumni of the Deerfield Community School District, as well as members of the broader Deerfield community, are addressing the need for greater diversity within the Deerfield Community School District including factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class and ability. Testimonials of racism experienced and observed, submitted by students, alumni, parents, and community members can be read here.  

In recognition of continued systemic racism, highlighted by current events, we must examine, call out, and disrupt inequitable policies and actions that operate to form multiple interconnecting systems of oppression. 

Students in Deerfield schools are rarely encouraged to examine or question their own role in systems of oppression and the ways in which the majority of the student body benefits from it. Students not taught the fundamentals of equity and diversity, both past and present, will be ill-prepared to enter the multicultural global society in which they will work and live. 

Therefore, we make the following recommendations to the Deerfield School Board, Superintendent, and faculty/staff: 

1) Include racial equity, diversity, and inclusion as part of the District’s mission and belief statements.

  • Particular attention should be given to the District acknowledging Deerfield’s foundation on unjustly ceded Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Miami, and Očeti Šakówiŋ territory and the sustained effects on indigenous groups living in Wisconsin today. (https://native-land.ca/) (https://wisconsinfirstnations.org/)
  • All assemblies should include a land acknowledgement, see UW-Madison’s example of a land acknowledgement to the Ho-Chunk tribe here.

2) Create a task force of specific students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members who can outline specific goals and how they are going to achieve them.

  • For example: releasing a detailed plan to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain educators of color.

3) Plan and implement professional development for all staff and faculty on implicit bias, racial equity, and inclusive curriculums. Prioritize learning from Black, Indigenous, and people of color (POC) educators.

4) Ban and make punishable all expressions of racism.

  • A ban of racial slurs, blackface/brownface/redface in any capacity, confederate flags on school property and at school events, racialized stereotypes/cultural appropriation in school performances
  • Condemning micro-aggressions by students and faculty, and faculty and administrators excusing racist behavior as a joke.
  • Many students point to their First Amendment right of free speech when it comes to using racial slurs, however the First Amendment does not protect behavior on campus that crosses the line into targeted harassment or threats, or that creates a pervasively hostile environment for vulnerable students.  (ACLU)

5) Hold diversity, equity, and inclusion training for students at the beginning of each school year which addresses topics such as overt racism, microaggressions, white privilege, stereotypes, and how to celebrate diversity.

6) Make meaningful changes to the English Literature, United States Government, and United States History curriculums. Reforms should include but are not limited to:

  • Including a minimum of one book written by a person of color every year in English Literature courses at all grade levels.
  • Engaging with grade-appropriate texts that introduce students to topics of race-based slavery, discrimination, and institutionalized racism. You can find resources at Teaching ToleranceRethinking SchoolsFacing History and Ourselves, and Zinn Education Project
  • Discussing institutionalized racism within the political structure in American Government classes. (Talking About Race in Mostly White Schools article) Examples may include:
    • Voter Suppression
    • Lack of Diverse Political Representation
    • History of Universal Suffrage
  • Spend sufficient time during all months of the school year (not just Black history month) discussing events in history that were predicated on racism and relate these events in history to the current reality. Such events could include:
    • American Colonization, American Indian Movement
      Wisconsin First Nations, Indian Boarding Schools, and Assimilation (Consider resources from Wisconsin First Nations)
    • Slavery within the United States (Consider the NYT 1619 Project)
    • The Prison Industrial Complex and Mass Incarceration (Consider 13TH)
    • Jim Crow Era & Segregation
    • Housing segregation topics of redlining (Consider Jim Crow of the North and The Color of Law (Teaching Tolerance Lessons)
    • The Tulsa Race Massacre
    • Japanese Internment
    • Black Lives Matter and police brutality

7) Celebrate a Day of Diversity once a year, whereby:

  • Every class, regardless of subject, takes the time to discuss the significant changes people of color have made to the field that is being taught and/or how Black, Indigenous, and people of color have otherwise shaped the field.
  • Students engage in a cross-curricular project where they can showcase their learning.
    • For example: freshman do research on Indigenous tribes of the area, sophomores address a different aspect of diversity, etc.
    • Holding a community event led by students to bring in people outside the school district to learn along with the students and to challenge the broader community issues.

8) Celebrate Martin Luther King Junior Day with a school-wide assembly at both Deerfield Elementary School and Deerfield Middle/High School, with prominent Black leaders from Milwaukee and/or Madison coming in as guest speakers. 

Other Petitions, from other Wisconsin Districts for Reference:

Mukwonago Area School District Petition

Pewaukee School District Petition

Cedarburg School District Petition

East Troy District Petition

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