The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion leads the district’s work on building a culture of diversity and inclusion for all students, families, employees, and community. The district understands that without an inclusive and equitable learning environment, students will not fully realize their potential. This work is also outlined in the district’s Next X Initiative which reflects the district’s strategic goals for 2020-2030.
Ultimately, the district’s goal is to consider: how might we become a model district for students of color and diverse needs and learned experiences to feel welcome, included, heard, valued, and celebrated. The district will continue to define and implement an action-oriented approach to accomplish this goal.
Below are several pillars of the district’s work: Multicultural Education, Equitable Classrooms, Community Conversations, and Definitions.
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Our goal is to develop and implement a truly multicultural education across all departments in Hilliard City Schools. Multicultural education means that students will study the history, text, values, beliefs, and perspectives of people from different cultural backgrounds. A multicultural education reflects the history and experiences of people around the world, including but not limited to the cultures represented in the classroom. This type of education prepares students to interact with a global community and become global citizens in a global economy.
Equitable classrooms provide equally accessible programming and opportunities for students and staff by being intentional in our behaviors, practices, and policies. The district will empower and create experiences for underrepresented populations to break down barriers and overcome stigmas. Equity applies to all students including but limited to race, ethnicity, background, socioeconomic status, ability, orientation, belief system, and perspective. When students learn in an equitable classroom, all students have a better opportunity to succeed and receive a more full and well-rounded educational experience.
Program Highlight: E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum is a student group that promotes the inclusion of individual voices in order to develop more empathy for others to build a stronger community, as “Out of Many, One” is our nation’s motto. Students that represent a diverse and multicultural community at Hilliard City Schools engage in rigorous conversation and exercises to examine concepts of identity, empathy, and advocacy as well as systemic practices that nurture inclusion so that everyone has a place at the table. In addition, the program, which has served students for more than 15 years, has received national and international recognition for its work with students.
- The Leading Equity Center podcast focuses on providing educators with tools and resources to ensure equity in schools and tackles a myriad of issues and topics for students and staff.
- Social Justice Books features several dozen curated book lists for children, young adults, and educators on a variety of multicultural and social justice topics. We encourage parents and teachers to continue to find books with heroes and protagonists that represent our multicultural community.
Achieving and building a culture of diversity and inclusion is not limited to the classroom, it requires all of us to participate. Schools play a crucial role in this work but it’s also critical that we engage in community-wide conversations about racism, prejudice, and injustice and how we, as a community, can implement new practices and mindsets that build a more diverse and inclusive culture for all of Hilliard.
The Hilliard City Schools Board of Education passed a resolution on July 9, 2020, that outlines the District’s commitment to equity and diversity with four main goals:
- Establishing and sustaining a school culture and community that shares in the collective responsibility to address, eliminate, and prevent action, decisions, and behaviors that permit or perpetuate racism;
- Establishing and supporting the Director of Equity and Diversity, the Diversity Coordinators, and the Equity and Diversity Task Force to lead the Hilliard City School District’s commitment to eliminating inequitable practices;
- Respecting and championing the diversity and life experiences of all students and staff to support the school district’s mission, vision, values, and goals;
- Creating a three-year strategic plan, under the Director of Equity and Diversity leadership, includes policy recommendations, recruitment of a more representative workforce, curriculum review and guidance, and system support to target systemic racism in the District.
Definitions and Terms
Diversity: refers to the various backgrounds and races that comprise a community, nation, or other groupings. In many cases, the term diversity does not just acknowledge the existence of a diversity of background, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and so on, but implies an appreciation of these differences.
Equity: offering different levels of support depending upon the need to achieve greater fairness of outcomes. For example, a teacher gives each child the number of apples he/she needs to remove hunger. One child may have had breakfast and only needs one apple, whereas another child may not have eaten since lunch the day before, and may need two or three apples to feel full.
Inclusion: means all students, staff, and community members are respected and valued members of their classroom, learning community, and the greater community. In an inclusive school, all students and staff participate in cultivating an environment in which all people feel accepted, safe, empowered, respected, valued, and have an equal voice.
Antiracism: “Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion FAQ’s
The task force was formed to recommend a 3-year action plan to the Board of Education to combat any form of racism and to help ensure that our district is inclusive for all students. The task force work began over the summer of 2020 by collecting feedback from the community on how we can be more inclusive. Smaller working groups began in November. There were about 40 people on the task force work groups (divided into 4 groups). Each group consists of staff, parents, students, board, and community members. The focus areas are Professional Development; Curriculum; Hiring; Discipline/Policies. Our task force completed our work and presented the Equity and Diversity Action Plan to the board in April.
The Hilliard City School District does not teach Critical Race Theory or the 1619 Project Curriculum. HCSD has not adopted a specific curriculum around our diversity and equity work. Our guiding philosophy is to build a culture of inclusion through developmentally appropriate learning strategies. In classrooms, we use literary, historical, and philosophical works as materials that allow for exploration from multiple perspectives. Being “Ready for Tomorrow” prepares students to interact with, make decisions about, and build skills to think critically in our diverse world.
Hilliard City Schools teach the Ohio Learning Standards set by the Ohio Department of Education, (ODE). Throughout various grade levels and content areas, there are specific academic standards regarding the instruction of heritage, diverse cultures, personal history, celebrations, and topics of American Government, American History, Modern World History, and Contemporary World Issues. See the ODE website for Ohio’s Learning Standards and Hilliard City Schools policy INB – Teaching about Controversial Issues.
The goal of this work is to create an inclusive environment for all students. Students will not only recognize and celebrate their own identity but recognize and celebrate the identities of all of their peers. This happens by building empathy and increasing a sense of belonging through classroom communities. These conversations may include current events or controversial topics that directly impact students every day. If your student is feeling isolated, please reach out to the classroom teacher or the school counselor to discuss your student’s situation.
Offering experiences and literature in the classroom gives all students the opportunity to see themselves and learn from others in the classroom. Research conducted by Rudine Simms Bishop, OSU Emeritus Professor, found that children’s literature is a powerful tool for students to see themselves in the classroom. She uses the terms windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors. The windows are where students can see into other’s perspectives, the mirrors are where they see themselves, and the sliding glass door is where a student can hear literature and step into another person’s experience. Her research found that “Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.”
Teachers should always be the first point of contact for any concerns you have about what your child is learning. Teachers can share specific information about the learning experience and the alignment to state standards. After speaking with the teacher, if you have further questions, a building administrator can help clarify any concerns.
Our district has an Equity and Diversity Board Committee. This committee will meet to discuss the work our district has done around Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. These meetings are open to the public. You can find more information about meeting dates, times, and agendas here.
Hilliard has not changed hiring practices. We are not hiring only people of color. The recommendations from the task force mention diversifying our teaching staff to be more inclusive of our student population. Currently, only about 2% of our teaching staff are people of color. We were awarded a grant from the Ohio Department of Education to diversify our teaching staff. There is a grant committee focused on this work. Hilliard will always hire the best candidates for a position, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Here is more information about the grant: Diversifying the Education Profession in Ohio.