District » Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion

Hermosa Beach is committed to help all students thrive by providing a learning environment that promotes inclusivity, celebrates diversity and inspires all students to maximize their potential. This is a key goal of the district for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.
 
Our goal is to help students think critically, listen openly, collaborate effectively and be good global citizens. Hermosa Beach schools are working to ensure that policies, programming and curriculum are updated to align with this mission by working to remove educational barriers for students who face challenges based on gender, identity, disability, language, race, ethnicity, economic status, family model and more.
 
The work is just beginning. The Board of Education adopted the HBCSD Equity and Inclusion Action Plan on June 9, 2021. Click here to read the action plan.
 
A committee of stakeholders (students, alumni, parents, staff, and Board representative) meet monthly to review plans and provide input/feedback. Below are committee members for 2021-2022 and for meeting agenda/minutes, see attachments at the bottom of this page: 
 
Genevieve Pujalet (Parent)
Carey Grange (Parent)
Eric Oakes (Parent)
Anna Voight (Parent)
Anthony Wills (Parent)
Suzanne Connors (Teacher)
Jen Cederquist (Teacher)
Ali Peng (Teacher) 
Mary Lee Delk (Teacher)
Leilani Song (Student)
Ila Bakaya (Student)
Eva Asiddao (Student Alumni)
Jen Cole (Board Member)
Lisa Tanita (Principal)
Jason Johnson (Superintendent)
 
 
Equity & Inclusion Committee News 
 
The December meeting of the E & I Committee focused on reviewing the committee’s objectives and goals for the 2021-22  school year, a discussion of the Equity & Inclusion Dashboard, and a discussion of Response Procedure.
Review of the committee’s objectives indicated that we are on track with 11 out of 12 goals and behind with confirming our Communication Procedure
 
The E & I Dashboard tracks data—via student surveys and various assessments—related to social emotional wellness, diversity and inclusion, and achievement for all. It is a tool for determining where inequities exist within the district. Recent dashboard data indicated:
  • Steady attendance rate of 95-96%
  • An increase in favorable responses to diversity questions in all grades but 3rd
  • An increase in favorable response to social emotional questions in grades 6-8 only.
 
The Committee’s discussion of Response Procedure included:
  • Distinguishing between a national news event vs a local protest event
  • Response when a staff member repeatedly uses the incorrect pronoun for a transgender student
  • Response when a student uses a racial epithet toward another student in a campus hallway
 
Our next meeting will be held in mid-January.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The E&I Committee’s November meeting focused on reviewing iReady performance data and discussing the most recent draft of the Response Procedure Matrix. Discussion included:
  • Analysis of iReady data, namely changes from previous year and additional information still needed
    Overall:
    • Students at or above grade level decreased in both reading and math
    • Students one grade level below increased on both reading and math
    • Students two or more grade levels below decreased in reading and improved in math
    • African American students and English learners improved in reading
    • Biggest areas of concern are Special Education students and math performance of African American students and English learners.
      • It was noted that due to number of African American students and English learners being relatively low in our district, a change for even one student can significantly affect overall percentages for each group
    • Committee determined it would be helpful to compare changes over several years to see if percentage of changes is consistent from year to year
  • Committee teachers Mary Lee Delk and Ali Peng offered feedback on the recent UCLA Center X Responsive Teaching Professional Development workshop attended by district teachers. Both found the speaker engaging and knowledgeable regarding culturally responsive practices in the classroom.
  • We reviewed the working Response Procedure DRAFT and shared previous classroom and district experiences managing impactful news stories in our community and globally. 
  • Our next Committee meeting takes place December 14.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Equity and Inclusivity Committee met on October 19 to discuss culturally responsive practices.  Our participants explored the following topics:
  • Feedback on 2 articles regarding culturally responsive instruction, where educators tailor instruction to be mindful of barriers affecting student achievement and utilize cultural referents to impart knowledge and skills.
  • A review of the HBCSD partnership with UCLA Center X to provide teachers with three sessions of professional development this year focused on responsive teaching strategies and meeting unique needs of students
  • Teachers reflected on commonly used strategies for meeting the individual needs of their students and creating a supportive classroom environment
  • Parents and students gave examples of how various classroom strategies and inclusivity programs did or did not meet the needs of the student
  • A student addressed the needs of shy students like herself and offered that some children have a voice that isn't necessarily verbal and may rely on art, music, etc to express themselves
  • Teachers and administrators recalled past experiences /news items that required a district response or led to organic in-class discussion
  • How we define when to respond to a breaking story, how to appropriately respond, and how to vary by grad
    Action items for our district:
  • Determine how to evaluate which equity and inclusivity initiatives are working and which are not
  • Create Response Guidelines--perhaps a leveled response or response matrix--in the wake of important news stories and events
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HBCSD is working on a partnership with the UCLA Teacher Development Program to provide three sessions of professional development this school year. The purpose of this professional development is support for our teachers to provide responsive teaching strategies to all students and their unique individual needs. CLICK HERE to review the professional development plan. 
 
Our August and September meetings included:
  • Member introductions and review of last year’s Equity Task Force findings and recommendation
  • E & I Committee mission and 12 crucial areas to meet progress toward our goals
  • Review of various assessments and surveys; the importance of gathering data and testing students in multiple ways to get an accurate picture of how we are meeting student needs
  • Review/Explanation of CA State Dashboard and its purpose
  • Discussion of the CA Healthy Kids Survey and how to capture accurate data on younger students’ school experiences
  • Thoughts/questions on appropriate timing/language of district response to culturally sensitive news issues and how to effectively give staff tools for culturally responsive practices
  • Defining what it means to prepare 21st Century citizens: offering students diversity of experiences in school, teaching collaboration, etc.
  • Review of Schoolwide Themes & Activities Calendar/ Offering feedback and questions
  • Our school programs fostering diversity awareness and empathy in September included Hispanic Heritage Month and a week of Start with Hello inclusion activities. October will be Bullying Prevention Month. To view the full themes calendar, CLICK HERE.  
Equity and Inclusion - An FAQ
 
What are Hermosa Schools doing to support equity and inclusion?
Hermosa Beach has made a commitment to support students by providing a more equitable education and inclusive culture. We believe diversity and inclusion enrich education and help us achieve our mission to provide a relevant education in an inclusive environment.
 
What does this initiative look like?
The work of equity helps remove obstacles that impact academic success for students who face challenges based on gender, identity, disability, language, race, ethnicity, economic status, family model and more. We validate each and every student and proactively work toward providing class environments and instruction where all have the opportunity to succeed. In other words, we recognize one size does not fit all. The Board of Education adopted Equity and Inclusion as a goal in its 2021-2022 plan to support our teachers through professional development, help achievement and wellness of students performing below grade-level, and expand social emotional programming through counseling.
 
Why are Hermosa Schools supporting equity and inclusion?
Our schools have been and will always be invested in teaching character, wellness, and kindness. Teaching students empathy, social-emotional skills, and understanding diversity is not only educationally beneficial but also essential for 21st century skills needed in the workplace. Skills like cultural intelligence, diversity and collaboration were highlighted in Forbes Magazine’s “The 10+ Most Important Job Skills Every Company Will be Looking for in 2020” and we want to ensure we are teaching students skills they will need tomorrow.
 
Why else?
Every school district in California is evaluated by its support of students to achieve equity and inclusion. The California School Dashboard evaluates school districts on their ability to do so.
 
What if my student already excels? Will this initiative hold back high achievers?
Absolutely not. This initiative helps everyone by creating a more inclusive school environment that focuses on all student-staff relationships, student experiences and lived culture. Creating an equitable environment isn’t about holding back any kids, rather it’s about removing obstacles that may impact student success. We have incredible students in Hermosa and must do everything we can to ensure all succeed. Importantly, this work also ensures we are giving our amazing teachers the support and development they need, particularly to support at-risk learners.
 
Is there a chance this can negatively impact some students?
Quite the opposite. This will help all our students thrive. Our goal is to help students think critically, listen thoughtfully, collaborate effectively and be good global citizens. Understanding equity, diversity and inclusion improves our world experiences and our impact on it. The work we do ahead will strengthen student engagement and build a school culture that values both individuals and a more inclusive community.
 
What curriculum is HBCSD using with students for equity and inclusion?
This has not yet been determined. We are setting ourselves up for long-term success, currently in the planning stages with staff, so they may help teach our students. It’s still early days and we are focused on the how before the what. Any curriculum change or adoption would occur in 2022-2023 at the earliest.
 
What is the Equity Task Force?
In 2018, the Board of Education agreed to promote equity in district programs and activities. The Board of Education adopted a resolution in September 2020 to form an Equity Task Force to support the academic achievement and wellness of all students. In 2020-2021, the Task Force, which included parents, students, alumni, staff, administrators, and Board members, met publicly every two weeks to work on a vision for equity and inclusion in our school district, culminating in recommendations for action.
 
What did the Equity Task Force base its recommendations on?
Data. The group studied data in student achievement, school climate, school discipline and attendance, and qualitative feedback from surveys.

Did the Equity Task Force conclude Hermosa Beach is racist?
No. That was not the remit of the task force. While racial bias exists everywhere, the group did not make conclusions about Hermosa Beach having a unique problem. It’s also important to note that research and recommendations were not limited to race. The Equity Task Force looked at many areas that can impact student achievement including academic underperformance of students with disabilities and English Language Learners, student discipline reports of targeted bullying, and school climate data indicating high anxiety/stress. We are choosing to proactively address needs like this that could exist in any school district.

Is this taking away from focusing on academics?
Not at all. This work is focused on academics, particularly learning loss after the COVID-19 pandemic. We are planning to assess our students reading, English Language Arts and math to establish a clear baseline and ensure achievement and, importantly, track data over time. We are looking at best-in-class reading, writing, and math intervention practices and building professional development schedules to support implementation.
 
What is the definition of equity in HBCSD?
To foster an environment where all students have the opportunity to benefit from high standards with accessible, supportive, effective and inclusive classrooms required for a high-quality education.

For example, when a teacher provides visual examples to support an English Language Learner with vocabulary, they are providing better, equitable teaching for all students.
 
What is the definition of inclusion in HBCSD?
Valuing and intentionally including the participation, contribution and perspectives of all students in our schools.

For example, when a teacher facilitates a student-led Socratic discussion where all students understand how to participate and are expected to contribute as well as listen critically to others, they are providing a better, inclusive classroom environment for all students.
 
What other school districts are engaged in this kind of work?
Redondo Beach Unified School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District (CLICK HERE), and El Segundo Unified School District (CLICK HERE) are all engaged in this work, in our immediate neighboring districts.
 
What’s next?
This work is just beginning. Dr. Jason Johnson, Superintendent, presented an action plan to the Board of Education based on the adopted Equity Task Force recommendations on June 9. CLICK HERE to review the presentation and CLICK HERE to watch the video clip of the meeting. There will continue to be regular meetings to transparently track progress and support the implementation of plans. The elected School Board will continue to oversee the process and vote on what will be actioned.
 
Is HBCSD teaching politics?
No. We are invested in teaching character, wellness and kindness, focusing on empathy and understanding.
 
Is HBCSD adopting an Ethnic Studies course?
No. The State of California is reviewing the creation of a required high school course in Ethnic Studies. As a K-8 school, this potential requirement is outside our gradespan.
 
Is HBCSD teaching Critical Race Theory?
No. It is not part of the work at HBCSD. Critical Race Theory, often referred to as CRT, is not an equity and inclusion training but a way of looking at racism across society that’s rooted in legal scholar work and higher education.
 
What theory or background is HBCSD’s work based on?
HBCSD is invested in culturally responsive practices designed to bridge the gap between learning and lived culture by focusing on student-staff relationships, student experiences, and curriculum and instruction. The goal is strengthening student engagement and building a school culture that values both individuals and inclusion.
 
Where can I learn more about culturally responsive practices?
CLICK HERE to read an article shared by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences.
 
Is HBEF paying for consultants?
No. Consultant fees for this work are paid for by state/federal funds from COVID-19 relief. State/federal funding is earmarked for these types of purposes.
 
How is the community involved?
An Equity and Inclusion Committee will advise and oversee HBCSD’s efforts to implement an action plan in 2021-2022. This committee will be two students, one alumni (grades 9-12), five HBCSD parents/guardians, four staff members, two administrators, and one Board member. The application for participation opened June 15.
 
Who can I contact to learn more?
Please contact the superintendent, Dr. Jason Johnson, to learn more at jjohnson@hbcsd.org.