The Criteria and Methods for Determining the Causes of Racism Should Be Made Public

May 26, 2022

In the May meeting of the Policy Committee the Racial Equity Committee (REC) presented their most recent version of their Anti-racism policy proposal. The content included an initial 7 categories of activity the REC felt should be tracked in order to report on the outcomes by race. The report included the following statement:

The Board believes that a systematic approach to ensuring an anti-racist environment is necessary given the interconnectedness of the various facets, including training, curriculum, academic success, behavioral outcomes, and hiring and retention. To be able to track the success and support continuous improvement in fostering an anti-racist environment it is critical to collect relevant data and analyze it regularly. Data collection will included but not be limited, to the following:

  1. Discipline by race/ethnicity
  2. Extra-curricular and club opportunities by race
  3. Athletic suspensions by race
  4. Student enrollment in Honors, AP, Magnet Program by race
  5. Hiring opportunities based upon race
  6. Professional learning centered on anti-racism and equity for staff
  7. Number of racially motivated incidents and aggregate summary of consequences

The full documents supplied by the REC for the meeting and discussion can be found on the FCPS website in BoardDocs or by contacting the Transparency in Education program via the main email address.

In order to ensure public transparency on how FCPS will identify the root causes of any disparities a request was made to Policy committee members Jay Mason, David Bass, and Liz Barrett by the Transparency in Education program to make public the criteria, materials and methods for determining the root cause of any disparities. The point was made that there are many possible causes of disparities including social, environmental, economic, and behavioral conditions that could drive racial disparities and we should avoid presupposing that any underachievement by any racial group is driven solely by racism as that would hinder the search for lasting root cause solutions. In Montgomery County criteria for similar exercises was partially derived from books like How to be an Anti-Racist, Stamped, White Fragility and similar materials that see every unfavorable outcome by race as driven by systemic racism. In using these materials Montgomery County has deemphasized other causes that should be included in the process of developing solutions. In addition, as part of the request it was pointed out that the 7 initial categories that are proposed for tracking racial disparities do not include academic proficiency, and that this should be added. The BOE members of the Policy Committee agreed to consider this request for making the criteria public and adding academic achievement levels.

A follow up letter on this topic was sent to the BOE on June 14.

The request is pending the BOE and Policy Committee.