A new coalition pushing for equity in Montgomery County schools has called on the district to begin planning how to help disadvantaged students when schools reopen.
The Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence, formed in October, recently released a list of eight tasks for the school district to work on now. The coalition says the tasks are necessary to ensure that students, particularly African American and Hispanic students, are not “left behind” after months of learning outside of the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the requests: Expanding summer learning opportunities and prioritizing space for disadvantaged black and brown students in summer school, having more engaging curriculum, and reallocating support services to work closely with black and brown students.
Neither representatives of the Black and Brown Coalition nor MCPS could be reached for comment.
The Black and Brown Coalition formed last year following reports to the Montgomery County Board of Education that students of color are more likely to be taught by teachers with less experience and less likely to be enrolled in advanced-level courses, like advanced placement (AP), even if they perform at the same level of their peers.
The report also showed that schools with high concentrations of minority and low-income families are more likely to have novice principals with less than three years of experience.
In a community meeting, the Coalition called on the school district to address disparities, and district leaders committed to doing so.
The Black & Brown Coalition’s requests for post-pandemic learning:
- Beginning this summer, provide multiweek summer learning, available first to black, brown and economically disadvantaged students who fell behind during remote learning. MCPS should also seek waivers from state officials to extend the school year or have longer school days to aid in recovery.
- Explore more engaging and stimulating learning that more students can relate to and that “meaningfully prepares them for future opportunity.” Allow teachers to deviate from the standard curriculum.
- Educators who are not classroom-based, like paraeducators and instructional specialists, should provide additional support to students who fell behind while not in school buildings. If schools only allow some students in at once, priority should be given to black, brown and economically disadvantaged students.
- Teachers, counselors and pupil personnel workers must be trained and up-to-date on providing social and emotional support to students who experienced trauma while out of the classroom.
- Ensure that teachers have enough time and resources to teach when schools reopen, likely with new social distancing guidelines and with students who need more support.
- Guard against “disproportionate staff transitions at our highest-needs schools.” Avoid staffing or programming reductions that would be detrimental to students in need.
- Have staff members at each school leading the planning for recovery after the coronavirus threat subsides.
- Set “ambitious but achievable” goals and monitor progress of re-engaging all students, but especially black, brown and poor students, when in-person classes resume.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com