A Letter to the Missouri Supreme Court
To Whom It May Concern,
The recent decision of the Supreme Court to allow student transfers from unaccredited school districts will undoubtedly challenge all involved. One of the most critical of those challenges will be the transition for teachers, administrators, parents and students to new and very diverse populations. Historically, both socio-economic and racial diversity have created unknown factors that cause many to react out of fear and resistance; neither serving the successful transitions for any of the cooperating districts.
Experience has shown that the transfer of student populations from one educational setting to another has been ineffective in the absence of diligent effort to create inclusive cultures of acceptance and appreciation. Despite significant tax dollars spent, transfers lacking cultural inclusiveness have had minimal impact on academic gains. Successful school reform can only be accomplished by creating instructional practices, school cultures, and district policies that promote, support and enhance student engagement. An authentic sense of belonging for incoming students is absolutely critical to their academic success. A focus on cultural diversity is essential to creating a safety for all.
Educational Equity Consultants (please see attachments) is a results oriented multi-cultural educational organization that offers professional development programs that strengthen cultural inclusiveness. Each of their programs are linked to the Missouri Teacher Standards as well as the Quality Indicators for Professional Development. In my work as founder and president of The Ethics Project, I have had several opportunities to work with and participate in programs conducted by EEC and have witnessed their practical approach and immediate results. Recognizing that stereotypes, assumptions and unconscious biases that interrupt the critical sense of belonging of transferring students can be held by teachers, administrators, students and community members, I highly recommend that EEC be engaged to facilitate the much needed transitions of each of the cooperating school districts. To the extent the services of EEC are utilized, the State of Missouri will be well served.
Christi M. Griffin