School District Panel Will Seek to Fight Bias on Many Fronts

Vivian Ekchian, is superintendent of the Glendale Unified School District.

The Glendale Unified School District has announced that it is convening a working group that will focus on providing a culturally relevant and responsive education for all students.
The group will be made up of students, teachers, school and district administrators, staff members, community members and parents and guardians. Some of the areas of focus will include eliminating bias in curriculums and educational materials; providing professional development to ensure culturally competent leadership; actively recruiting a more diverse workforce; monitoring student discipline data to ensure students of color are not disproportionately penalized; and continuing the use of practices to build community, strengthen school culture, and repair relationships.
“Our board of education is committed to providing safe schools where every studencan learn and thrive,” said Dr. Armina Gharpetian, the board’s president. “This commitment has become the driving force for our words to become actions at all of our school sites and in our entire community as a whole.”
While many educational institutions have recently adopted a similar course of action due to the many demonstrations that arose after George Floyd died in May while in the custody of Minnesota police, the GUSD has been working toward a solution for several months. In January, the GUSD board adopted a resolution specifically recognizing the rich culture, contributions and value of local African American students and community members. As part of that resolution, the district committed to work to eliminate bias in curriculums and classroom cultures.
Last year, the district sponsored cultural performances hosted by Los Angeles’ Music Center, providing each school with an opportunity to celebrate culture and diversity through the arts. Beginning this year, Glendale Unified is collaborating with the USC Race and Equity Center and the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide professional development for school and district leaders, teachers and staff to eliminate implicit bias.
Additionally, the district hosted two panel discussions that served as a platform for high school students to share their experiences and provide ideas to develop more inclusive campus communities. Students, parents and guardians have collaborated with school and district administrators to create ways to actively combat bias in GUSD schools and the community, including engaging school stakeholders in conversations about race, starting social justice reading groups, and organizing live and virtual community protests.
“In Glendale Unified schools, we embrace diversity, focus on equity and guarantee safety to accelerate learning and increase pathways for every student,” said Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “We look forward to collaborating with our various community agencies to expand on our district’s commitment to building stronger relationships and engaging in courageous conversations about race and equity with students, parents and guardians, and each other.”

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