Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Not Mere Afterthoughts

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Not Mere Afterthoughts

On March 14 the Arlington School Board will consider an assessment of the diversity infrastructure of Arlington Public Schools as it relates to curriculum, professional development, policies/procedures, and community engagement. The assessment was based on discussions with APS stakeholders to “define and conceptualize the desired state of ‘community engagement’ around issues of diversity.”

Ironically, almost two-thirds of those interviewed for a process targeted to community engagement were affiliated not with the community but with APS. The only representatives of the community were a teacher, a PTA official, and two entities engaged in affordable housing. The composition of those interviewed leads one to believe APS places its highest priority on talking with itself rather than engaging the community. The dynamics of the renaming process (which was governed by a staff-only committee) lends credence to that theory.

The author of the report noted “one central theme throughout this assessment is that there are still questions within APS on whether all communities of internal/external stakeholders are seen as equals within the conversations around diversity and inclusion.” Clearly that is not the case. There can be no meaningful discussion of diversity and inclusion until the School Board realizes that as opposed to being mere afterthoughts, neighborhoods are equal partners in the process of educating Arlington’s children.

Jacqueline Coachman