Springfield Public Schools announced Thursday they will pause on June 19th to honor Juneteeth, the oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery, and focus on reflecting on and honoring its promise.
Juneteenth remembers June 19, 1865, when more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, word reached Texas about the end of the Civil War and that all slaves were free.
SPS said in a statement that we all “must act against injustice together” and they will be taking actions to improve diversity, equality, and inclusion:
- Our first Chief Equity and Diversity Officer, Dr. Yvania Garcia-Pusateri, now leads a team focused on closing gaps and expanding opportunities for underrepresented and under-resourced students.
- An Equity and Diversity Advisory Council of more than 30 community members has completed its review of our work and presented recommendations for continued enhancements.
- The Board of Education has approved an addition to our district’s strategic plan: Focus Area 5 – Equity and Diversity. Our goal is to create and sustain learning environments that support equity and diversity through the development of staff, expanding a diverse workforce, enhancing academic supports and culturally relevant curriculum, and promoting increased engagement and advocacy of underrepresented and under-resourced students.
- SPS has an Equity Champion assigned to every school. These professionals are focused on sharing input on equity issues, providing resources and other support for students and families, and contributing to staff development. While not all staff have the official title of “Equity Champion”, every staff member has the professional responsibility to advocate for equity and are evaluated accordingly.
- All SPS staff completed diversity training in the 2019-20 school year – including “Facing Racism” for district leadership. This valuable training will continue in the 2020-21 school year.
- A more diverse workforce is critically important. To support this endeavor, the FY20-21 budget includes resources for a new workforce coordinator and a “Grow Your Own” program that encourages students of color to pursue future careers in education.
- We have intensified our focus on improving graduation rates and closing gaps in academic achievement. This includes the addition of graduation mentors, community liaisons, attendance supports and more robust tutoring programs.
- We are committed to removing barriers in transportation and have completed an audit of our current system. Initial steps have already been taken to expand busing for elementary students in the 2020-21 school year.
- Access to technology remains a priority for our district. In addition to providing a learning device for every SPS student, the district has invested in additional hotspots to ensure that all students have access to reliable internet service at home.
“There is no place for racism and it will never be permitted,” SPS emphasized in their press statement.