St. Charles School District 303 looks to hire company to help promote diversity and equity

Will be discussed at School Board’s Learning and Teaching Committee meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday

A proposal by the St. Charles School District 303 to hire a company to help promote diversity and equity is generating debate in the community.

At the School Board’s Learning and Teaching Committee meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, board members will discuss a proposal to partner with Deep Equity to provide professional learning to staff on diversity, equity and inclusion and to develop student leaders. The district’s administrative staff has recommended board members approve an agreement with Deep Equity for $119,026 and that the board hire a director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The board has a goal to develop a plan to “create a culture that supports equity, diversity, and inclusion for CUSD 303 students and staff that reflects our diverse society and develops skills in appreciating differences, overcoming conflicts and contributing to society.”

According to Corwin Press’ website, the Deep Equity program, based on the work of Gary Howard, helps schools and districts establish the “climate, protocols, common language, and common goal of implementing culturally responsive teaching practices.”

The website also states the program helps build the capacity of schools and districts seeking to reduce and eventually eliminate achievement gaps, disparities in graduation rates and disproportional suspension, expulsion and disciplinary referral rates.

The group D303 Move Forward is criticizing the proposal, saying the district wants to bring in a for-profit company that doesn’t address academics but instead aims for the total “reeducation” of students.

Mark Huber, president of the group Parents 4 Progress, also voiced concerns about the proposal in a recent blog. He is among 22 people who have applied to fill a vacancy on the School Board.

“Taking too aggressive of an approach to policy implementation could backfire and create more problems than solutions,” Huber states. “It’s the job of board members to understand the community they serve and be empathetic to the resistance the district is bound to face. Taxpayers expect their board to be knowledgeable, thorough, and communicative when considering the implementation of controversial policy changes. It’s incumbent on the board to do their due diligence and educate the public on their findings and positions.”

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.