- Early College Academy
Advancing equity at the Early College Academy
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
In 2019, Dr. Constance Robinson, principal of the Early College Academy, and her staff began crafting a school improvement plan to dismantle racist school systems and advance equity. This plan would serve as a framework for justice-centered education on which to build in order to work toward the goals of the ECA and the district.
“When all staff began to speak the same language and understand the goal, we were able to build trusted relationships with one another and focus on the primary goal: graduate our students and equip every student with the knowledge, life-skills, and global perspectives to contribute to society and respond to the needs of an ever-changing world,” Dr. Robinson said.
Strategies and components of the school improvement plan consisted of:
- Weekly professional development on race, implicit bias, microaggressions, microinvalidations, and micro-insults to address and dismantle the various ways in which racism and prejudice present themselves.
- Culturally and Linguistically Responsive (CLR) practices to ensure students see themselves represented in the classroom and in learning materials.
- Intentionally including student voice in decision making and curriculum so that the curriculum would apply to and serve all students.
- More student/staff mediation in which students could express how they feel to enhance staff/student relationships and build trust.
- Restorative justice practices in which consequences for actions exist as conversations and opportunities for learning rather than punitive measures.
- Replacing suspensions with in-person options after school, before school, and other interventions to allow students to remain focused on their studies and involved in the school experience rather than punishing them with isolation.
Today, staff regularly revisit this plan to identify improvement opportunities. Students and families are encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences with ECA staff.
“If you see something and you believe it should be included, contact me, and I’ll bring it to my team and we will include it in our discussions. We will look at our standard and ask other students to provide more information as well,” Dr. Robinson said.
Through this work, staff are encouraged to embrace difficult conversations as they create curricula and an environment that are based off of BIPOC student contributions.
“What we’ve accomplished thus far is a healthy and positive school climate for all. Students with learning disabilities are thriving, BIPOC students are more engaged, parents are sharing their concerns, and teachers are taking their concerns into consideration. The momentum started with our mission: Whatever it takes!”