Medford seeks to diversify schools workforce, specialist hired

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School superintendent Marice Edouard-Vincent called the lack of diversity among teachers an “elephant in the room” at the January 24 school committee meeting during a discussion about an upcoming audit. of fairness.

“Is there something we are not aware of that makes Medford less attractive and what do we need to do to make it more attractive?” asked Edouard-Vincent. “Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) are here for two years and then move on. They choose not to stay. Another opportunity presents itself, and they seize this opportunity.

Paul Ruseau, a member of the school committee, speculated that the rate of pay could be one of the main problems.

“Diverse staff are in demand, and other districts with a higher pay scale are also looking,” Ruseau said. He hopes the firm hired to conduct an equity audit of the school system will go beyond its own research and lay out the issues in plain terms.

“It would be nice to hear from someone who has nothing to do with the game; in that, the salary isn’t going to cut it, even if it’s an uncomfortable truth,” Ruseau said. “I want to be able to respond to the community as to why we have an all-white workforce and whether we need a tax waiver to raise wages.”

The Equity Process was hired with a mission to create a symbiotic relationship between equity, anti-bias and cultural inclusiveness through social and academic discourse, coaching and leadership and implementing priorities based on evidence and research.

The company says its own vision is to “disrupt racist and biased practices and policies that contain inequalities in BIPOC spaces within school communities through collective work and an understanding of local and state trends.”

Cyndi Weekes Bradley, Founder and CEO of The Equity Process

Cyndi Weekes Bradley, Founder and CEO of Equity Process, added, “Diversity doesn’t stop at racing. It contains ethnicity, ability, gender, the whole gamut. We know that diversity is best for students.

The audit will start in the district’s human resources department, Weekes Bradley told the Committee, adding “if you don’t have the right people in front of the students, how do we start moving?”

The next steps depend on the consensus of the committee: “you have to have a consensus as to how deep you want to go. Since this is such a large district, we thought it best to start with human resources.

Lest things look too serious, she added, “We’re not here to say uh-oh or no-no. It’s to help you step into the 21st century with the best HR practices. We are not saying that things are so bad, but we are asking what to do and how you do your recruitment and retention with a diverse population and how did you retain them or not.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Weekes Bradley explained that the audit would include surveys, focus groups and informal discussions with stakeholders in the school system and the wider community to “examine practices, policies and traditions Social and Institutional and Student Work”, which will include curriculum and lesson plan reviews, behavioral policies and disciplinary practices, and handbooks for students and staff.

“There’s nothing I or my organization can do unless everyone comes together for the good of all students,” Weekes Bradley said.

The audit will not be a scientific experiment based on observation, research, hypothesis, testing and analysis. “There is no test or experience,” Weekes Bradley said. “It’s like that.”

Nonetheless, she cautioned, the fairness process will make opinions.

“I’m here to tell you the truth and make recommendations,” Weekes Bradley told members. “If you decide to ignore the recommendations, that’s your choice.”

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