Equity Task Force Update: A Work in Progress

Photo by Joshua Ross
September 22, 2020 by Carol Britton Meyer

Asst. Supt. of Schools Jamie LaBillois provided an update on the work of the HPS Equity Task Force at last night's School Committee meeting.  He was happy to report that 46 educators participated in five separate book groups this summer, reading books related to educational equity.

The HPS vision of equity developed by the task force states that "regardless of student background, experience, and knowledge, Hingham Public Schools students will be provided with opportunities and resources to develop socially, emotionally, and academically in a safe, supportive, enriching, and bias-free environment."

LaBillois said that as part of a classroom library audit, a number of different books will be purchased through a Black bookstore owner in Cambridge that talk about several different cultures. "We're seeking funding partners to purchase some of these texts, and we're also exploring the idea of a community partnership to pay for books outside of the 19 different ones we are planning to order," LaBilois said, "to help launch our equity libraries."

The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) faculty analysis should be ready by late October.

Katie Sutton of the Hingham Unity Council, while understanding of the challenges posed by COVID 19, urged the task force to "move on this as fast as you possibly can. We know that people of color are even more affected by COVID, and the inequities are even worse for them." She and other HUC members are willing to help with the effort.

"We're working as fast as we can," LaBillois said. "Our equity team is incredibly engaged." The timeframe has been slower than previously thought due to delays caused by COVID-19, he explained.

Chrissy Roberts offered to assist with fundraising and to help choose books for the equity libraries "from a parent/PTO perspective."

On a related topic, School Committee member Michelle Ayer and others attended a regional remote meeting for METCO parents to answer their questions and concerns.

"Even during a pandemic, we need to ensure the safety and well-being of all our students and in particular, students of color," she said. "An effort really needs to be made to make a connection between each METCO student and a faculty or staff member so there's at least one adult person in the building they can go to if they are struggling or need someone to talk with."

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