learn / 2016
CWC LA: building communities that embrace equity and address injustice
Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Los Angeles
Citizens of the World Los Angeles will prepare our students to thrive in our diverse schools and society by making critical investments in race, equity and diversity training for our staff.
Please describe your project proposal.
Through CWC’s school model, students learn to meaningfully connect with each other, be part of any community, and courageously decide who they are in the world and how they want the world to be. The goal of our race, equity and diversity project is for staff and students to realize their full potential to thrive in a diverse society. To achieve this ambitious goal, CWC must equip our staff with the values, skills, and tools to empower students to navigate lines of difference and build community.
Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?
- College completion
- College matriculation rates
- District-wide graduation rates
- Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
- Students’ perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school
- Suspension and expulsion rates
- Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?
CWC LA’s unique model is built upon three core tenets: academic excellence, diversity and community. We believe true learning can occur best in a diverse school environment that honors and engages the community it serves. CWC schools bring individuals with diverse backgrounds and perspectives together, so students can learn how to engage others respectfully and productively, and develop the competencies they will need for future success in a fast-paced, diverse world.
Research supports the academic benefit of a diverse learning environment, as noted in a recent Scientific American article that states: “diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision-making and problem solving.” When students recognize and learn to transcend lines of difference, it allows them to work more effectively with each other, while also achieving better academic results, becoming stronger critical and creative thinkers, and contributing to society in meaningful and positive ways.
Schools are uniquely positioned to address the social challenges we are facing in LA and across the country. By educating our next generation of leaders to deeply understand race, equity and diversity, we can help avoid some of the unrest we see today. CWC’s educators aspire to lead this work in LA, setting an example for how to maximize the benefits of diversity. Our approach to embracing diversity will fundamentally reshape equity in our schools by allowing all students to achieve at equal and high levels (compared to the persistent “achievement gaps” seen throughout our city and country).
CWC aspires to create schools where there is a culture of learning for all, starting with the adults in our buildings who will learn to engage with issues of race, equity, diversity and education openly and honestly. By changing some of the language/frameworks we use, the conversation we have among staff and the goals we set, we expect to see positive growth in school culture and student achievement.
We started on this important work in August, with a two-day all-staff training as a pilot. Going forward, we intend to expand our race and equity project to include: • Building adult staff capacity for navigating differences • Creating more structures to support and engage all families • Developing strategies to address issues of diversity and difference with students
We are establishing a regional leadership team that will focus on equity issues, provide thought leadership and help drive the outcomes we hope to achieve at our schools. The CWC LA race, equity and diversity working group will include: • Experts in race/equity and SEL as facilitators • Leaders across the CWC LA region – including teachers, TAs, and office staff • Principals and other leaders
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Our organization has identified a set of 12 CWC-specific “dispositions” we aim to develop in our students. The dispositions are as follows:
- Self: self-aware, response-able, confident, agile, courageous
- Together: culturally competent, curious, empathetic, compassionate
- World: systems thinker, global, scholarly As CWC approaches learning with a strategic equity focus, we anticipate our graduates will more fully embody these 12 dispositions.
Additionally, we will define and measure success for this project using a variety of metrics pertaining to race and equity, including:
•Teachers and Staff -Diverse hiring practices and talent pipelines -Modeling behavior of successfully engaging in crucial conversations about race and equity -Feedback from continuing education/PD/dialogue -Feedback on school culture -Shared understanding of definitions and key terms (e.g., diversity)
•Families -Feedback on school culture and access to the school community -Implementation of structures to ensure equitable parent voices
•Students -Feedback on school culture -Observed student leadership and agency -Development of a plan to address issues of diversity and difference with students -Shared language and values among students
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Advisors/board members
- Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
- Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
- Community outreach
- Network/relationship support
- Quality improvement research