~~Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness ~~~ September 2020~~

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CP&I Vision

Provide ongoing, meaningful coaching and professional learning opportunities for Austin ISD staff to engage in critical self-reflection on their interaction with students and their families in a manner that considers the diverse needs of all. The goals and objectives for the office are focused on clearly communicating an equitable and responsive lens in all that we do. The Race Equity Council serves as our body of partners committed to the work and possessing the multiple perspectives to keep our focus on the vision.

CP&I Essential Questions

  • How do we utilize culturally proficient and inclusive ways of being to disrupt the predictability of success or failure by race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or immigration status?

  • How does Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness relate to culturally relevant teaching, culturally responsive teaching, culturally & linguistically sustaining pedagogy and educator praxis?

  • How do we shift our practices away from punitive, prescriptive, and deficit structures to practices that center identity safety where children learn, grow and lead?

We invite you to reflect on these questions and use them to guide the work that you do this year for our students, families, and community in Austin ISD.

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In this newsletter I introduce the final Critical Race Theory (CRT) tenet. CRT formed from a collective movement built on the work of activists in critical legal studies and radical feminism. CRT consists of recognition of the following:

  1. Permanence of race and racism

  2. Interest convergence

  3. Social construction of race and the malleability of the concept

  4. Whiteness as property

  5. Intersectionality

  6. Counterstorytelling

Because CRT is ever-changing, specialized lenses have emerged such as, but not limited to, Latino-Critical (LatCrit), TribalCrit, queer-crit, Asian American Jurisprudence, and community cultural capital. This newsletter focuses on the CRT tenet Counterstorytelling.

In CP&I professional learning sessions we draw from my research on effectiveness in race-centered professional learning (Ward, 2019). In my research I interviewed equity leaders nationally who design, and lead race-centered professional learning to understand how we all determine effectiveness. We all agreed that it is important to provide learning space to interrupt the dominant cultural narratives that frame everyone’s schooling and working experience. My AntiRacist professional learning colleagues and I value story as a strategy to invite multiple perspectives and offer empathy building opportunities. The counterstory is offered in AntiRacist professional learning to provide learners with a peek into the lived experiences of someone different from them.

In our educational institutions we adhere to settled social arrangements and public agreements that provide a clear picture of what we value. It is those agreements and arrangements that often perpetuate whiteness and silence the counternarratives present in the organization. If you’ve attended any of the Cultural Proficiency professional learning you would have heard me introduce myself as a black woman, married to a black husband, raising black boys in American society. Racializing myself as the facilitator of AntiRacist professional learning is a critical component of effective race-centered professional learning. (Ward, 2019) As a mother I take on the responsibility of nurturing identity-safe Austin ISD school environments for all 81,000 of our students. I have 81,000 babies and use my daily work to create space for critical self-reflection, and disruption of practice that harms the identity-safety of students and staff. Friday we engaged in a liberatory design challenge and were asked to write about what it will feel like to sense liberation. I wrote the following counternarrative to my current reality of the dehumanization and ignorance of what it means to love black sons in American society.

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Speak Up: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias, and Stereotypes

October 1st


Registration for Austin ISD staff

Registration for Austin ISD Community

As the largest No Place For Hate district in the nation, Austin ISD is committed to providing a psychologically, physically, & emotionally safe environment for all of our students. The recent worldwide events highlight the need to prepare you to engage in difficult dialogue to nurture safe, welcoming & inclusive schools. Join us in this Speak Up Session to learn with colleagues and community members, share practice, & build language to disrupt biased language. In this interactive 3-hour Zoom session, you will become familiar with the Austin ISD board policy on harassment, examine the ADL's Pyramid of Hate, learn strategies to speak up, & practice interrupting biased language or stereotypes when it happens in our classrooms, schools, community, or online spaces.

Follow us on Twitter and stay tuned to the HCP for future professional learning opportunities.

Register here to sign up for our monthly newsletters:


Resources for CP&I Personal Learning

Click here for Resources for Cultural Proficiency & Inclusiveness: Developing AntiRacist Classroom Spaces (Also, scroll to the bottom for links to our past CP&I Newsletters that are full of even more resources...)

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Austin ISD Race Equity Council Updates

The Race Equity Council has arranged itself into three groups that put their AntiRacist lenses into action in distinct areas of focus:

The Community & Family Engagement group:
This Race Equity Council group is partnering with ACPTA, Parent Engagement Support Office, and the Equity Office to open “a door for Austin ISD parents and caregivers to start a conversation about race in our community.” The next session is Tuesday, September 22nd at 7:00pm and the topic is How Race and Racism Show Up in the Classroom. Join us!
  • WHAT: RaceTalks for Austin ISD Parents + Caregivers
  • WHEN:Tuesday, September 22nd TIME: 7:00pm
  • WHERE: Zoom (with Spanish interpretation + ASL, other)
  • Register at the RaceTalks website: https://racetalksatx.org/

The Student Leadership group recently attended a four-hour Equity Meets Design session alongside teachers, campus administrators, central office leaders, and a handful of students to practice the Liberatory Design process, and begin considering how it applies to the establishment of Austin ISD's districtwide Student Equity Council. Student representatives from each of our high schools will convene in the fall and be challenged to apply the design process toward their own co-created vision for the actions of the Student Equity Council

The Professional Learning group is supporting 129 CP&I Leadership Pathway educators this fall. Participants are currently reviewing their implementation goals to apply inside-out work -- and their understanding of how the Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency connect to their personal educator praxis -- as classroom teachers this semester .

Also, Day 2 of the AntiRacist Leadership Series went beyond "tilling the ground" and "planting a seed" to "nurturing the soil" as principals and central office leaders:

  • reflected on their personal connections to AntiRacist work

  • began crafting and sharing their racial autobiographies

  • experienced a peer coaching model for racial dialogue

  • translated the AntiRacism definition into actions

  • analyzed the Barriers to Cultural Proficiency and how they manifest in AISD

  • revised their Vertical Team plans for the year

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Equity Action Plan from the Austin ISD Equity Office

Community Input Needed

The Austin ISD Equity Office is seeking input from the community on its drafted Equity Action Plan. The Equity Action Plan will guide district leaders in their efforts to ensure that all students receive what they need to achieve their full academic and social potential. https://www.austinisd.org/sites/default/files/dept/equity-office/docs/082820_EquityReport_v2_ENG-ro.pdf

Students, staff and community members are invited to review the draft of the Equity Action Plan, which includes challenges, possible solutions and possible policy and budget implications to further equity in Austin ISD. The online form will be available through October 30. https://forms.gle/4Wto9jD1GDucDY4u8

The purpose of the Equity Action Plan is to guide district leaders of PK-16 education to intentionally achieve equity for all students as they implement planning and decision-making processes so that all students receive what they need to achieve their full academic and social potential.

The Equity Action Plan was informed by data collected August 2019 through March 2020. The data were collected from Austin ISD staff, community groups, and community grassroots organizations (participants) during facilitated sessions and workshops at various sites throughout Austin. During the conversations, participants identified points of pride, challenges, and solutions relative to Austin ISD. The language used in the data collection section is the language used by the participants of the facilitated sessions and workshops.

*This document is a first draft and the review process is ongoing. Provide input online at this link: https://forms.gle/4Wto9jD1GDucDY4u8

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6 Ways to be an Antiracist Educator

Social-Emotional Learning for an Antiracist Future: A Conversation with Dr. Dena Simmons

How can educators create equitable and anti-racist teaching practices and learning environments so that students have the safety to learn in the comfort of their own skin? Join us for a conversation with educator and antiracist Dr. Dena Simmons to explore the power and purpose of education for social change.

During this webinar, we will:

  • Explore how educators can empower students to work towards healing and social change
  • Learn how Facing History engages educators in a critical examination of social-emotional learning with an equity and justice lens

Captioning will be available during this webinar, which takes place on Sept. 23rd from 6–7pm CT. This is a live-only event and will not be available for on-demand viewing.

Click here to register: https://www.facinghistory.org/calendar/web2020nat33-social-emotional-learning-antiracist-future-conversation-dr-dena-simmons#.X0vpV7otVXA.twitter

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Dismantling Systemic Racism in Education

Sep 16, 2020

A 10 Week Webinar Series
September 16 - November 18, 2020
Wednesdays from 5:00-6:30pm Central Time

When entering the classroom, students and teachers are met with systematic racism at every turn. By looking at who writes and is represented in curriculum, textbooks, and education policy, we can begin to understand the education system in the United States. This 10 week webinar series will scratch the surface answering the questions "How did we get here," "Where are we now?" and "What can we do about it?" in regard to raising issues of equity and implementing anti-biased, anti-racist education across the country. President Johnson sought to increase access in education with over 60 pieces of legislation such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Higher Education Act, and Bilingual Education Act. Continuing President Johnson's legacy of prioritizing education, the LBJ Library will host this webinar series to give information and tools to educators and stakeholders to affect change in their schools and communities.

Register here: http://www.lbjlibrary.org/events/dismantling-systemic-racism-in-education?fbclid=IwAR0Xas6ytR0-p7gPJlfz0yKuLDQ4FywPFmjXGJpdnTtif8I7PXBBi4ruJnU

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Using Social Justice to Promote Student Voice

Preteen students can gain confidence in their ability to navigate complex topics by using intersectionality to investigate social issues.

By Lorena Germán

August 11, 2020

As a Dominican immigrant mother and wife to a Black-skinned Dominican man, I was hit hard by the killing of George Floyd and other recent events in our country. As many were, I was also frustrated by the ongoing killings, the lack of accountability, and the fears of what could be for my husband and son.

While we march and protest and join our voices to the national outcry that Black Lives Matter, I see my classroom as another form of activism. I currently teach at a small, independent, predominantly White school, where I designed and teach a course called Middle School Social Justice. My students and I focus on learning about social injustice and practicing advocacy. Together we research, discuss, and learn about a wide variety of national social issues.

To read the full article, click here: https://www.edutopia.org/article/using-social-justice-promote-student-voice

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Back to School 2020 - Building Community

Please check out this valuable resource from Facing History and Ourselves. It aligns beautifully with our CP&I and Culturally Responsive Restorative Practices work in Austin ISD. The site offers 3 valuable sections each with printable resources to support you as you prepare to welcome your students back face to face or online:

1. Getting Ready - checking in with yourself to prepare to connect with students. It's very important that we center caring and relationships as we head back to school.

2. Opening and Closing Routines - this resource offers 10 possible routines that center relationships. Rituals and routines create a sense of felt safety for children and adults.

3. Activities for a Remote or Hybrid Start - in this section resources for getting to know each other, share about our identities, and how to incorporate current events in the classroom are offered.

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Archived CP&I Newsletters

Click here to access hundreds of resources from past CP&I Newsletters!

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