Lessons Learned: Advocacy, Resistance & Hiring the Next Superintendent

We are moving forward.  We are excited about the increased level of awareness in our community about education equity or the lack of it.  We have been and continue to be motivated as well as passionately committed to challenging systems of oppression.  Make no mistake, there are no reasons to stop advocating for educational equity.   No worries, we won’t!

“[T]he quality of conversations that we’re having and to the hunger to have those conversations and to see the community with like-minded folks in Waterbury to dialogue [with]. I’m so glad people are talking about this in Waterbury.”

Shifting strategies and changing tactics so that we can be responsive to Connecticut’s education ecosystem is integral to eliminating and replacing school policies and practices that have been unable to address or remediate education dilemmas that have existed for decades.  Disparities in student outcomes and school discipline practices have plagued Black and Brown students for too long.

In Waterbury, Black and Brown students as well as ELL and SPED students have suffered long enough.  These students and their families deserve to have their truths recognized by school professionals and policymakers.  The encouraging of our school professionals and policymakers to be risk-takers must be rigorous.  Our message to them is this: If you choose equality over equity we don’t need you.

Our attempts to shock parents, students, educators and elected officials with the data have failed to achieve the desired results of a completely overhauled educational system. Data analysis and policy briefs by themselves fail to shift mindsets or alter results for Black and Brown students.  It may even work to further marginalize these students and families.  Understanding this we will be developing new strategies and tactics to interact with parents, students, and educators in Waterbury. Furthermore, we can’t train our way to racial equity.  The bottom line is we need action.

We now know to be effective we must agitate systems of oppression, introduce or create innovative solutions, and orchestrate cross-sector alliances with like-minded individuals and organizations.  We will remain humble and authentically connected to our community so that we can effectively resist oppressive structures and create anti-racist educational spaces for all children.

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As mentioned in the newspaper article here are our recommendations we sent to the Waterbury Board of Education, Human Resources Department, Deputy Superintendent Henry, and Mayor O’Leary regarding the hiring process of the new superintendent of schools.  We hope they make it happen!!!

  1. The hired consultant must be tasked with developing and conducting a thoughtful, timely process for gathering Board, staff, parent and community input for the establishment of criteria for the selection process.

  2. The business community, members of the clergy, non-profit support agencies, and most importantly parents must have the opportunity to interact with candidates in a private setting and be given the opportunity to provide feedback to the decisions makers on each candidate.

  3. An independent body with no official connection to the schools, elected officials, or city employees must be allowed to conduct at least three community forums where finalists can address a broad range of topics concerning the Waterbury Public Schools.

“We’re quietly confident that we’re working in the right direction and working on the right set of issues.” 

Categories: Current Issues

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