Developing an equity index is impossible without centering the voices of those adversely affected by historical inequities. Through co-building workshops and dialogues at the local level—parents, vested stakeholders, and community champions asked the planning team to focus on institutional practices and the production of unequal educational outcomes for students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, foster youth, and homeless youth.
As SCUSD’s Core Value asserts that “[w]e recognize that our system is inequitable by design and we vigilantly work to confront and interrupt inequities that exist to level the playing field and provide opportunities for everyone to learn, grow, and reach their greatness,” an equity framework must be an institutionalized principle for all District facilities planning and in the prioritizing of capital projects funding.
These workshops and dialogues revealed the following insights:
The District has been challenged with funding inequities in past capital programs, with project funding flowing to well-resourced schools, sometimes at the expense of poorer performing schools, which serve more racially diverse students and those from families with lower socio-economic status.
Additionally, to some degree in past practice funding priorities have become entangled in the process of parental advocacy, with knowledgeable, well-connected parents gaining the support of administrators tasked with project allocating funding, which produced noticeable results.
Further, recent school closures, which forced students out of their neighborhood schools, and open enrollment contributes to the “swirl” of students moving out of their neighborhood schools and to attend their “choice” schools. Consequently, the movement of students out of their neighborhood schools confounds the ability to properly analyze connection between facility adequacy and student success or to use school enrollment as criteria for prioritizing capital project funding.
Moreover, with parents either able to, or forced to, choose schools across the District, neighborhood schools, which contribute to the economic and social well-being of entire communities, begin to lose their identity as important civic anchors and hubs for interpersonal and social connections.
To effectively “confront and interrupt inequities that exist” and begin to “level the playing field” in ways that are consistent with the LCAP’s guiding principle to “improve outcomes for all students and close the significant performance gaps between student groups,” it is critical in prioritizing facility projects to:
Ensure that the voices of students, parents, and community members – all of whom have informed insights and knowledge - inform District planning.
Utilize student, neighborhood, and school site demographic data, as opposed to enrollment numbers.
Closely align the goals of the LCAP, which has been collaboratively developed with parents, students, and community members, with facilities priorities in ways that in turn prioritize the same student groups as identified in the LCAP.
Be visionary as well as practical (e.g., fully implement even modest projects, set baseline standards for all schools, and account for long-term maintenance and operations).
In its core value statement, the District commits itself to confronting and correcting systemic and historic inequities that exist to “level the playing field” so that each student has a full array of choices for their educational aspirations. To that end, the facilities staff seek a rational, data-informed, and systemic method of allocating funding.
Further, staff seeks to provide a transparent and equitable process for the distribution of bond funds as a way of demonstrating a long-term commitment to the voters, parents, and school community.