New blog on equity and race

A good friend has started her own blog, hitting it hard with equity and race:


Her first post is a heartfelt message and a strong challenge: “How are you pushing for racial equity in your corner of the community?” I wonder what would happen if our sole justification for what we do is “(b)ecause it’s the right thing to do.”


27 Responses to “New blog on equity and race”

  1. Rebecca Patterson Says:

    So…why isn’t she running for school board?

  2. pattsi Says:

    Is not the reason a conflict of interest?

  3. cherylnnekacamacho Says:

    Hi- Running for school board is something that I may consider for the next election (not this one). It will all depend on the direction that I see the district moving in around the things that I am passionate about (like equity).

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      I think you would be a good board member. And when has equity ever been on the agenda? I want to throw something every time I hear them talk about the consent decree as a reason to build the new school here or there. Clearly I shouldn’t be on the board or they would be more interesting.

      [altered by schultz: made corrections as requested]

      • Rebecca Patterson Says:

        …when has equity ever been on the agenda?…..every time not overtime.

      • charlesdschultz Says:

        Rebecca, here is my take on board meetings and those involved. Cheryl obviously has a different perspective and I open the door for her to share that if she so desires.

        The board meeting isn’t just a board meeting for the board members and administration. By that I mean to include the entire context of the various committee meetings as well, like the Education Equity Excellence (EEE, or triple-E) committee, the Discipline Equity/Advisory Task Force, or even the now defunct Parent Advocacy Committee; there are lots of committees, some of which are relatively unknown to the public. When a report on, say, equity or discipline or Choice is on the agenda, that report has already been talked about quite a bit by the administration, and already presented to and chewed up at a committee. Invariably there is at least one board member, usually two, that is slotted for each committee, although board member attendance to actual committee meetings varies greatly. Regardless, they (board members) have seen all the relevant emails and notes, even if they have not read them.

        So by the time a member of the public actually sees someting on the agenda, a number of people have already seen the reports and there has already been a significant amount of discussion on the topic.

        At least this is my observation, both as someone who has attended board meetings in the past, but also as a parent who has sat in several committee meetings on various topics. Heck, I have even instigated some of those weighty-but-informal discussions myself. It happens. The question I struggle with is how to get that discussion to transcend the nature of the board meeting, especially the little bit that the public sees at the open meeting (the closed meetings are an entirely different ballgame, and at times ground for some serious debate from what I hear).

        All that to say that Orlando Thomas, Jamar Brown and others have put equity on the agenda many times. It’s just very hard for the public to see past the tip of the iceberg.

      • Rebecca Patterson Says:

        Part of my problem is I knew John Lee Johnson, I had discussions with him about the lawsuit that led to the consent decree that they now wave around. They act like it’s just about location and they went willingly to do the right thing. My granddaughter left unit 4 because she couldn’t get adequate gifted services.

  4. pattsi Says:

    Questions–where are all of these committee meetings noticed; where are the agenda, minutes, and mtg packets posted; and are these mtgs streamed on the Unit 4 web site?

  5. Amy Says:

    All committee meetings are noted, agendas, minutes, and other items are posted via Unit 4 website. I’ve been watching Unit 4 board meetings for almost 9 years via cable channel or streaming. It might actually shock the current board and members of this community just how many citizens tune in and pay attention. Equity has been a constant conversation for years ~ and the consent decree while filed as a racial issue ended up as a socioeconomic issue which lifted all marginalized students. I’d like that rhetoric to change from racial to socioeconomic and I have engaged Patricia Avery in that conversation and hope to have more. Alissia Young and I both nodded our heads when I commented the other night that the only thing I see consistently missing from the larger conversation is parental accountability. When I attend 4 years of Centennial open house, parent/teacher conferences, and PTA meetings ~ and I account for fewer than 100 parents in attendance (and I am being generous) we have to figure out how to engage parents & caregivers back into the conversation. We have to be humble in our approach to help those who may feel as if they aren’t able to engage find a path that brings them into partnership in education for their child and others. This isn’t just a systemic problem for Unit 4 ~ this is across the board for private schools and the country.

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Just a point of clarification, not all committee meetings are noted, nor are agendas and minutes always posted; I am told this is not in violation of OMA because they are Superintendent committee meetings and report directly to the Superintendent. As far as I know, Unit 4 has zero Board Committees which must report to the board and thus fall under OMA.

      However, I will agree that there is a significant amount of information online for many committees; I would challenge any one to read it all. 🙂 Some committees are much better about posting information than others.

      Amy, I appreciate your response and I thank you for engaging us here.

      By the way, as far as parental engagement and accountability, the ACTIONS program has a really sweet 6-week initiative going called “parent empowerment”. More to come soon. Basically it is a series of after-school sessions that seek to build bonds between student & parents and families & staff, based on research that breaks down walls of communication and brings people together in informal and comfortable settings.

      Lastly, there are many pockets of people doing awesome things to enhance communication and build trust between the school district and those they serve. I know I am guilty of impatience. 🙂 Good things are happening.

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      The consent decree did not end up as an socioeconomic issue. There was a Supreme Court decision in 2007 that said k-12 could not be placed based solely on race. Two completely separate issues. By granddaughters wanted to enroll in Stratton but they had their quota of little black girls, even though they were cute. So their momma, using the smarts her momma gave her re-enrolled them as white, being as how they are mixed. They got in. After 2007 she changed their records back to black which is how the girls see themselves. After 2007 Unit 4 began placing students based on income to get a balanced enrollment.

  6. Amy Says:

    Not to mention how many grandparents are either full time caring or at least the majority of care for kids we have to remember that many don’t have access to computers or simply don’t use the internet. It’s overwhelming and helping those who feel as if they aren’t educated enough to participate or can’t navigate the systems is paramount to engagement and forming a trusting partnership.

    Good things are happening ~ I await the day the light shines on that vs what is wrong AND when pointing out what is wrong be in the solution vs vent

  7. cherylnnekacamacho Says:

    I watch or attend all BOE meetings as well. I respectfully disagree with you, Amy, on several things 1) moving focus from race to socioeconomic (they are absolutely connected, but given my experiences, race is definitely not something that we should move away from in this community; not in a district with the kind of disproportionality problems that we have (along racial lines) 2) Equity has been a focus (I used to agree with you on this point, but I no longer do). I agree with you that the name is thrown around that that there are committees, titles, reports, etc. that use that term); however, I don’t see action and movement towards equity. I hear people talking about it (and by the way, there are some good people who work there; this is not about that). I don’t see movement towards it. Having a conversation where someone talks about it is different from having a conversation where someone can concretely share what they’ve done or are doing to move towards it.

    Parents are absolutely a part of the equation, but if we stop there, and ignore all of the systemic pieces that are also involved, then that just becomes a convenient fall-back to make us feel like we have no power to be a part of the solution. I’m curious to know, what good things are happening with equity in Unit 4? Please speak to outcomes. Maybe I’m just not aware of some things that you are, and if that is the case, I am not above revising my opinion/stance. Please share.

    • Amy Says:

      I didn’t say move focus. My twins will start K in the fall at a school with 70% free and reduced lunch with the minority being Latino. Race is not something we move away from but it isn’t the entire picture and I think we are on the same page ~ it’s hard with internet vs sitting over coffee and talking. Socioeconomic status is ultimately what the district needed to address as far as ensuring segregation ended. Our community is segregated from a housing point of view but today I am seeing a shift toward more affordable housing around areas of higher cost homes. I do like that we can have these conversations and continue working toward helping all students & families. I also didn’t say we stop at parents. I said I haven’t seen much along the lines of parental accountability ~ I sat on the EEE committee for 2 years with a room full of engaged parents, admins, educators, community. I think that is a good thing that is happening. I also am experiencing equity for my own child in that educators and admins came together to try a curriculum for her that typically was only used for children with Autism. 4 years her teacher and I banging heads, me crying in frustration, her teacher frustrated, confused, and unable to reach my child. A curriculum that today has my child finally using appropriate communication and learning. I am an accountable parent. The teacher is trained, excited, and willing to push my child to new heights ~ but it took proper training and support to get there. I want to help others experience this same success. I also have a 19 year old that I have been very public about sharing our story of dragging/pushing him through high school. I had to step back and let him fail however I built a team behind the scenes in that I was constantly in communication with the school and totally honest which is soul baring hard. Novak Academy saved his educational process and is the only reason that he was successful. The staff there and at Centennial are in fact doing GREAT things to reach kids ~ parents and caregivers need to feel they can navigate the process to be a part of the solution. Whole family approach. Love that we are talking about this

  8. cherylnnekacamacho Says:

    Rebecca, I agree, there are deeper issues of practice that need to be examined. Thanks for lending your voice/perspective.

  9. pattsi Says:

    When I was teaching social planning, I encouraged the students to look at the issue of economic disparages. This brings in the issue of race because statistically economic disparages overwhelmingly encompasses the non White population, though this also includes White population. Using this approach reorients the focus and urban planners, at least, have found doing so enhances the chances of healthier and more productive conversations.
    The term, “cultural competency” is becoming the new buzz word, especially with the Community Coalition. Right now I am not sensing a deep understanding of the term, thus the chance of this enhancing change is somewhat limited.
    There is a lecture at UIUC on 5 March to be held at the Illini Union on the topic of diversity and bias. Read more about the lecture here

  10. pattsi Says:

    Amy is very accurate that economic level integrated housing is needed in this community. I am pleased to read that she feels more is being built throughout the community. I took a drive along Rising Rd and Kirby and Curtis a couple weeks ago. What is happening in those area are economically integrated housing opportunities.

  11. Finding the Good: Spotlight on ACTIONS and Novak Academy | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] the comments of the previous post, there was an unspoken but implicit challenge to find the good in the things around us. So I am […]

  12. Kathy R. Says:

    Good evening, Charles. If I may digress from equity for a moment, I’d like to ask you about this:

    “The question I struggle with is how to get that discussion to transcend the nature of the board meeting, especially the little bit that the public sees at the open meeting.”

    What I think you’re saying is that you are struggling with how the board could make these committee discussions more accessible to the public. Am I understanding you?

    • charlesdschultz Says:


      Kind of. I am not entirely certain it is the board’s responsibility to make these discussions more accessible, at least not directly. Sure, the board can help (and should provide guidance via policies), but ultimately it is the members of the committee, and the superintendent to whom they report, to make their dialog accessible to the public. But how? And to what end? We use words like “openness” and “transparency”, but how is that practiced in a practical, feasible manner?

      The reality I see is that a small number of us (two, three? a few more?) really want all these conversations to be publicly online, but most of the other 80,000 voters might just not care. Maybe? It is hard to gauge the “return on investment”. However, having said that, I firmly believe that the more educated and more aware all voters are of the issues, the better our societal dialogues will become and we will start holding our elected officials to real, higher standards. So that is my end goal, a citizenry that is well educated, not just on math, science and ELA, nor even just having a college degree, but having sound social skills and engaged in the democratic process.

      How do we get there?

      PS – and this easily loops back into the discussion of equity, I think, for some people in our community wield more “power” (or privilege or authority or capital or whatever you want to call it) than others. A 100% flattening that seeks to equalize all voices is not the same thing as equity, I think. But that is what I need to learn.

      • Rebecca Patterson Says:

        How about having meetings where all people can attend? That includes times, location, cost, duration, travel time. Where is the equity of being able to participate in government? Participating is not watching it on the computer or reading the minutes.

  13. pattsi Says:

    Since the county throws everything up on the county web site, I have little patience with other public entities (aka taxpayer dollars) that do not. And getting around the OMA by establishing committees by the administrative staff rather than the board undermines the spirit of the OMA.

    • Rebecca Patterson Says:

      I looked for breakdowns on the school website for stuff and couldn’t find it. There should be reports explaining things, not just raw numbers. I was a bookkeeper. It’s like the dark ages.

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