- Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools is working to address misunderstandings between students and teachers that occur due to underlying cultural biases and perceptions and impact outcomes with an Equity and Excellence in Education (EEE) program.
- The district launched the program in 2011, having worked alongside McDaniel College to build it out as a 12-week series of courses which has been completed by close to 100 teachers, administrators and other staff, Edutopia reports.
- The heightened awareness resulting from the program has led educators to consider their tone in comments on assignments, replace images in lessons with more culturally relevant options, create after-school STEM clubs for girls, and alter their approaches to remediation, according to Edutopia.
Montgomery County's EEE program comes at a time when schools and districts nationwide are working to improve instructional disparities for students of color in particular. Part of this has included a conscious effort to curb the school-to-prison pipeline by abandoning zero-tolerance discipline policies that have seen students arrested or referred to the juvenile justice system for offenses as vague and simple as disruption or defiance.
A crucial component of doing that, however, is boosting cultural awareness among educators, as the Montgomery County program does. But schools and districts must also be mindful that students of color need role models that look like them, too. A Johns Hopkins University study from April found that black students were less likely to drop out and more likely to pursue higher education if they saw a black teacher in the classroom, particularly between grades 3 and 5. And while there remains a shortage of teachers of color nationwide, K-12 schools and districts should consider working more closely with higher ed, especially historically black institutions, to address those gaps.