Waterbury’s female students of color are at greater risk of being suspended in school than their white counterparts, which places them on an accelerated path toward the school to prison pipeline. In light of this, we urge the superintendent and the board of education to form a special task force that focuses on addressing inequities between girls of color and their peers. This task force would examine and identify which discipline policies are administered properly, which policies are working to decrease students’ access to classroom instruction. This information can be used to inform decisions around which policies need to be supported or modified. Ideally, this task force would include community stakeholders, such as principals, teachers, social workers, school psychologists, police officers and parents. R.A.C.C.E. would be a willing volunteer, as a participant and/or facilitator.
Prior to viewing the data and our analysis, we would like you to gain an understanding of risk ratio and risk index. The Equity Project at Indiana University reveals “A ratio of 1.0 indicates exact proportionality, while ratios above or below 1.0 indicate over- and under-representation, respectively.” For Hispanic and Black female students you’ll see ratios much higher than 1.0.
We are prepared to help the school district as much as possible, and we believe having a board of education workshop on this topic should be our first step. We believe the next step involves working directly with school professionals. Educators work closely with students every day, and we believe they would benefit from gaining an understanding of: (1) the theories of implicit and explicit bias; (2) the social and cultural phenomenon influencing students’ behavior; (3) the importance of this data beyond raw ratios; and (4) the important of strategically planning to become culturally competent educators. R.A.C.C.E. can help facilitate a professional development series that focuses on these topics.