A message from Superintendent Jeff Stephens:
Several months ago, Weber School District hired Lillian Tsosie-Jensen as our equity director to assist in ensuring that every child in our school district experiences a bias-free, safe education. Lillian brings a wealth of experience, leadership and knowledge to this new role. We not only welcome Lillian, but as a school district look forward to working with her to create and maintain a learning environment free from inequity or injustice of any kind.
Some have asked what our district's equity effort entails. Let me start by stating what it does not involve—any kind of political agenda! For many years, we have taken pride as a school district in focusing on the whole child. This means that we have resisted trends to narrow the curriculum by emphasizing only basic skills in two or three subjects. Rather, when we speak about the whole child, we stress our desire that every child enjoys a rich, comprehensive learning experience in our schools. Further, we want each student to feel safe and supported, and to be fully engaged in learning as they are challenged in ways that enable them to reach their highest potential.
As we strive toward achieving equity for every child, we can and should deepen our understanding of what it means for students to feel safe and supported at school. Often, when we speak of student safety, for example, we are referencing circumstances that might call into action our safety response protocol--in other words, ensuring students' physical safety. However, every child must also feel safe socially and emotionally in order to achieve at their highest level. Similarly, past references to supporting students may have implied academic or counseling support. As we put on our "equity lense," supporting students also means that we recognize and remove barriers that impede learning and achievement.
Our district journey toward achieving greater equity for all students goes beyond merely studying different cultures. For instance, it would serve little purpose to study the culture of poverty (or race, religion, gender identity, etc.) and then not do anything about the impediments and hurdles that students of poverty face from day to day. Rather, we must better recognize when even subtle forms of bias or discrimination become obstacles in a child's path. Then, we can respond in appropriate and effective ways to remove those barriers so that they no longer impede growth and progress. Additionally, we want to empower each other, adult and student alike, to stand up against acts of bias, discrimination and injustice. Ultimately, our collective capacity to "stand up" to injustice will have the single greatest impact on creating and sustaining the kind of culture where every person thrives.
In the end, this is about goodness and doing the right thing. I would hope, perhaps more than anything else, that every student (and their parents) would say of Weber School District, "It's a good place." That, to me, would truly reflect The Weber Way!
A message from Assistant Superintendent Lori Rasmussen:
An Ordinary Day
As we have been out reading in our schools, one couldn't help but notice the many dedicated people who work diligently to provide our students with a remarkable school experience. One wouldn't have to look far to see boundless amounts of work and service being rendered. In an ordinary day you might witness a maintenance worker repairing a drinking fountain, a custodian mowing the lawn, buses picking up and delivering our precious students, and a student resource officer ensuring the safety of our students. As you walk into the school, the tremendous smell of lunch being prepared would waft through the air. One could hear the sounds of learning throughout the halls. One might hear a teacher's voice delivering a thoughtful lesson, students collaborating, a parent volunteer tutoring a child with reading, or the silence of students working on a project using their chromebooks. Add to this, the sight of a secretary comforting a student who doesn't feel well and a principal greeting students warmly in the hall. What a wonderful, ordinary day! As I reflected on the many visits to schools it occurred to me the enormity of daily effort that goes into providing students with a quality education. You've heard the quote "It takes a village to raise a child." This African proverb means that an entire community of people must interact with children in order for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. Our community epitomizes this concept. Weber District is honored to be part of a community where the whole child is valued. Where every Weber School District employee strives to ensure all students are safe, challenged, supported, and engaged. The fine efforts of employees, parents, and community members to move good forward in our district provides an extraordinary education for our students. Thanks to all!
Speaking of a village. . . here are some numbers behind the story-
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This includes discrimination based on a person’s limited English proficiency or English learner status; and actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, including membership in a religion that may be perceived to exhibit such characteristics (such as Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh individuals).
Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This includes discrimination based on pregnancy, parental status, and sex stereotypes (such as treating persons differently because they do not conform to sex-role expectations or because they are attracted to or are in relationships with persons of the same sex).
Discrimination against persons with disabilities is prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance). This includes discrimination against individuals currently without an impairment that substantially limits of a major life activity, but who have a record of or are regarded as having a disability.
Discrimination on the basis of age is prohibited by Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
These civil rights laws extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries and museums that receive federal financial assistance from ED. These include all public schools and most public and private colleges and universities.