Disproportionality Workgroup Sessions
Disproportionality is defined by the US Department of Education as "the over-representation of a specific group in special education programs or disciplinary outcomes relative to the presence of the group in the overall student population, and/or the underrepresentation of a specific group in accessing intervention services, resources, programs, rigorous curriculum, advanced placement courses, and instruction relative to the presence of the group in the overall student population."
Each school is represented by a team consisting of the building principal, literacy/instructional coach(es), school psychologist, teacher leader (guardian of equity), and parent. School teams receive training in culturally responsive education, root cause analysis, disproportionate academic and behavior outcomes, implicit biases, research and book study activities from experts in the field, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Team members also serve on the school's CLRI team and continually work together to develop, reflect upon, and revise their school's CLRI action plan.
The theme of the 2020-2021 Disproportionality/CRE Sessions is "Emancipation Curriculum and Pedagogy: Freeing the Minds of Our Young People." Participants will continue to dive deeper with culturally responsive education learning modules, expert guest speakers on emancipation pedagogy and anti-racist practices, and the inclusion of students and their voices.
The sessions kicked off on October 13th & 14th, 2020, with renowned culturally responsive educator and author, Christopher Emdin. Dr. Emdin spoke to participants about the need for educators to have a "pedagogical PPE" from toxic racist practices. He also took partipants through an in-depth look at the 7 Rights of the Body:
1) Right to be here
2) Right to feel
3) Right to act
4) Right to love... and be loved
5) Right to speak... truth to power
6) Right to see... and the right to have a vision for things that are different from what they currently are
7) Right to know... and accumulate knowledge
In essence, district teachers, administrators, board members, community members, parents, and scholars learned the power of saying to our young people, "I honor you. This is YOUR classroom (or learning space)," and "You are a genius, by viruture of your existence."
In November 2020, the Office of CLRI was proud to host Gholdy Muhammad as the sessions' distinguished speaker. Dr. Muhammad is the author of this year's district book study, Cultivating Genius. It was a privilege for all participants to hear from the author herself as she connected her writing to the historical literacy legacy of African Americans and current educational practices. Her keynote spoke to the power of using an equity framwork for culturally and historically responsive literacy. Participants will continue to dive deeply with Dr. Muhammad's work as each Disproportionality/CRE session focuses on highlighting key themes and takeaways from her chapters. Please scroll to the video library at the bottom of this page for a video on the history of African American education in America and a recording of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad's presentation.
On December 9, 2020, the Office of CLRI welcomed Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to the Disproportionality Session for a moderated discussion led by Associate Superintendent Dr. Fatima Morrell. Dr. Kendi, the nationally renowned author of Stamped From the Beginning and How to Be An Antiracist, responded to a series of questions on topics that included systemic racism, antiracist practices, an emancipatory curriculum, and raising scholars as social justice advocates. Dr. Kendi’s thoughtful and impactful responses encouraged participants to continue on their own antiracist journeys. Reflective comments from participants included:
“Are we there to “save” our students or to recognize and amplify the beautiful things about them that already exist and are oppressed by the systems at hand?!”
“Decades and decades of injustice cannot just be swept under the rug any longer. It cannot be suppressed any longer. It is vital for us to ADMIT these injustices happened, and accept responsibility for them. It is time to heal and it will take a long time. We need to be WILLING… and honest with ourselves, and present the TRUTHS to our students so they can learn as we are healing.”
“You can't claim to teach American literature when you're only teaching white literature.”
“It's bigger than us! But it's our responsibility to get the information out. As parents and caregivers and teachers.”
“We cannot see one another if we only learn things from one group of people and only see one viewpoint as correct and true.”
On January 12th and 13th, 2021, a Distinguished Panel of Scholars raised their voices around the following issues impacting students: virtual learning, the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, and curriculum being taught in schools. Scholars addressed how schools are currently creating spaces for students to voice their concerns around these issues. Scholars also spoke in great detail about the recent, violent, domestic terrorist attack at the US Capitol Building, and the disparate, unequal treatment between peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters and the racist rioters who attempted an insurrection on American democracy. This group of distinguished student panelists made for an amazing and enriching, culturally and linguistically responsive learning experience for all involved.
October 2019's keynote speaker facilitates a small group presentation to the Scholars for Social Justice.
The Guardians of Equity attend a breakout session with the November 2019's keynote speaker, Angel Acosta.
Participants cycle through three breakout sessions during each disproportionality workgroup session. Here, participants use a Venn diagram in the Book Study Session to compare and contrast themes from the speaker and the focus book, Black Male(d).
Participants deeply engage in the school-to-prison pipeline.
District stakeholders participate in a history walk showing racial injustices and their impact upon educational access for African Americans.
Participants engage in group dialogues to discuss racism, implicit biases, identity, and personal and professional experiences in order to develop strategies for dismantling disproportionality in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Disproportionality workgroup sessions look at the intersectionality of race, class, ethnicity, and culture and their connection to such terms as fairness, equality, and equity.
Reflective processing strategies are infused throughout all disproportionality workshop sessions. The "How are you feeling?" poster is one method facilitators use to check-in with participants.