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March 3, 2022

Expanding Equity in the Ames CSD

The Ames Community School District commits to equity and access that empowers every individual to reach their full personal and educational potential. But what does that mean? As a District, we invite you to learn more about what equity looks like in our District. Our desire as a District is to create a more equitable educational school system. Over the next several months, including February 2022 (Black History Month), we will be sharing information about what equity looks like in Ames. We have provided an outline of what to expect below. 

Equity work in Ames began in 2017 with the public acknowledgment of a racial disparity gap. Since then, professional development for staff was centered around this work, equity audits further highlighted disparities, expert speakers were invited into the District, and podcast episodes focused on the topic of equity. Many of our teachers have also shown an eagerness to be culturally responsive in their teaching. All of this work was encouraged by our community, was based on student data, and was driven by our amazing staff. 

In February 2021, the Ames CSD participated in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. It was a week in our District where we saw an overwhelming amount of praise for centering the lives of Black students, but it was also a week that generated some confusion and frustration. District leaders were asked to answer questions in front of the House Oversight Committee and the Iowa Department of Education made inquiries into the week. 

What will February 2022 and Black History Month look like in Ames? We have answered some of the most common questions in a Black History Month 2022 FAQ available on our website, including: 

  • Is ACSD participating in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action in 2022?
  • Will ACSD discuss topics from the 13 guiding principles specifically Affirming Queer & Trans?
  • What is ACSD doing to celebrate Black History Month in 2022?
  • Do the ACSD plans violate HF 802?
  • … and many others.

The short answer is that the Ames CSD will not be participating in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action this year. We will, however, be using this opportunity to share more of what equity looks like in our District. Our goal has always been to embed equity work throughout the year and not to make it specific to just one month. We believe that our students deserve safe, affirming environments where they see themselves in the classroom materials and engage in deep learning each day they come into our buildings.

Much of the equity work will take place at three levels: district, building, and classroom. At the district level, we will be sharing our expanded equity efforts. This will include getting feedback on our education equity plan, organizing professional development opportunities for staff, and showcasing our equity work for community members. At the building level, we will be focusing efforts to affirm the worth and value of our Black families, students, and staff members. Each building will be creating its own plans to celebrate and affirm Black people in our district.

At the classroom level, we will be asking teachers to intentionally increase the representation of Black people in their instructional materials throughout February. This aligns with our efforts to ask teachers to increase the representation of other groups throughout this year. For example, in September, the Equity Office shared resources to increase Hispanic representation during Hispanic Heritage Month. In March, resources will be shared to increase representation for women in the curriculum. Teachers will continue to teach the standards and curriculum of their courses while working to increase the representation of Black people in their content. 

This is the first of several planned communication pieces that will help highlight our equity work. Future District communications will include a timeline and invitation to engage in our educational equity plan, as well as highlight some of the amazing work that is happening across the District.