Albany Coming Together (ACT)
ALBANY COMING TOGETHER (ACT) ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The purpose of the Albany Coming Together (ACT) Task Force is to mobilize students, AUSD staff and parents as equal partners to foster an equitable and inclusive school environment for all students. Our charge is to initiate a change process that empowers students to be culturally aware, civic-minded and steadfast allies for one another. ACT’s recommendations support AUSD teachers and administrators to interrupt bias, promote social justice, and affirm a welcoming and supportive learning environment for all students, staff and families.
ACT Advisory Committee Report: March 30, 2018
On Thursday, March 29th, the Albany Coming Together (ACT) Advisory Committee met to review the recommendations and began clarifying what is currently in place, what needs further research, and what is going to sites for further input. The committee also decided to allocate some funding to support affected students and student leaders at AHS. This could include support for both the Black Student Union and Latino graduation ceremonies. Our next meeting is April 18th.
ACT Advisory Committee Report: April 18, 2018
The ACT Advisory Committee met on Wednesday, April 18th, where they reviewed the recommendations and then ranked each person’s top five prioritized recommendations. The committee was able to narrow down the recommendations to approximately 35. Before the next meeting in May, Superintendent Williams will be taking these recommendations and creating a draft 3-year plan that the committee will review. The goal is to bring this 3-year plan to the Board in June as a staff report.
Letter to ACT: May 18, 2018
Dear ACT Committee Members,
Thank you, again, for all of the dedication, time, and hard work you put in over the past year meeting in sub-committees, doing research, engaging in discussions, and creating recommendations. Since the ACT recommendations were provided to the Board in February, I wanted to give you an update on what has been occurring at our sites and district-wide.
- An ACT Advisory Committee was established with representatives from each Parent Engagement/Advisory Group, students, and school and district staff.
- The ACT Advisory Committee prioritized approximately 33 recommendations. Many of these recommendations fall into the areas of teaching and learning, and social-emotional/social justice awareness.
- All of the Board policy recommendations were sent to the District Board Policy Committee. The Board Policy Committee meets once a month. They will review the recommendations and current Board Policy and determine the revisions that need to be made.
- The District’s leadership team collaborated to create a set of social emotional and social justice competencies for our elementary and secondary sites. Principals are sharing these competencies with their staff to gain their input.
- ACC, Marin, Ocean View, Cornell, and Albany Middle School received No Place for Hate training from the Anti-Defamation League, and these schools are now designated as No Place for Hate schools.
- Rancho/Colonial Days were either replaced or revised with Historical Arts and Crafts Day, and many of our teachers are teaching lessons focused on cultural studies where students think about California history and culture through a social justice framework of identity and diversity.
- Over 40 teachers and administrators from our three elementary schools and AHS attended the Tools for Tolerance for Educators training at the Museum of Tolerance. Feedback on the training was positive, and we are bringing one of the trainers to AUSD in August to provide similar training to our AUSD staff.
- Principal Deborah Brill and Camille Fisher created an Educational Equity Circle for staff to discuss issues of racism and oppression. The District’s Leadership Team also participates in an Educational Equity Circle monthly.
- Our Human Resources Department is reviewing and revising our recruitment and hiring process to increase our efforts to hire a more diverse staff.
- Recruiting paraprofessionals is a priority for our Human Resources and Special Education Departments. We have entered into a partnership with Berkeley City College to bring a dual enrollment Teacher Preparation Pipeline program to AHS beginning in the 2018-19 school year.
- Site administrators continue to work with their staff to create or review and revise restorative practices.
- Site administrators continue to work with their staff on culturally responsive teaching/practices.
- A parent in our community has been facilitating parent discussions on implicit bias.
- Some administrators are attending trauma informed practices training at the Alameda County Office of Education.
We are very excited about the discussions, continued work, the involvement of students, and the outpouring of support in the community. However, there is still much work to do next year, We will be examining how to improve our process to collect and monitor data on bullying and harassment and hate motivated incidents. We need to research several of the ACT recommendations to determine what is currently in place and working well and what needs to be revised to improve services and support to our students. This includes social-emotional and mental health support services and professional development for staff.
This work could not have been initiated or accomplished without the leadership of our ACT Steering Committee where several people took on strong leadership roles. I want to especially acknowledge and thank Lerond Mallard and Bonnie Wolf who not only agreed to be the ACT Steering Committee co-chairs, but who also spent countless hours meeting with students, staff, and parents to gather important feedback, synthesized all of this information into cohesive categories, and then organized the final recommendations report to the School Board. Itoco Garcia, was an amazing consultant and facilitator, and he provided valuable expertise and leadership throughout this process.
I also want to acknowledge and thank our sub-committee chairs who organized and facilitated their committees, motivated people to get involved, and helped our ACT sub-committees stay focused on their task. Ray Colemar, Francisco Lopez, Bruce Fukuji, Clementina Duron, Michael Harris, Carla Jorden-Swan, Rudy Mendoza-Denton, AnnieJae Fishburgh, Jason Patent, Max Weintraub, Amal Kaduwela - thank you for your commitment and leadership and for giving up your personal time to do this important work.
And, I want to thank the 100+ community members, parents, staff, and students who participated on the ACT sub-committees. Each of you provided valuable insight, experience, creative ideas, and diverse perspectives. We also had student representatives from several AHS student groups who participated on sub-committees and on our Steering Committee. Kamryn Glasper-DuGar, Amal Kaduwela, Ayize James, Navin Attanayake, Melia Oliver, Tamara Valenzuela, Odette Bradbury, Emily Lou, Tenzin Pema, Shiloe Skeeling-Pena, Maya Watts, Henry O’Connell - you exemplify student leadership, and you provided much needed and refreshing student perspectives on several critical issues.
For everyone involved, this is another inflection point in the long process of bringing systemic change that will strengthen our district. This work has been difficult and arduous at times, with many hours of meetings. All these meetings were organized and attended by some of the most dedicated people in our community.
Albany is a small but mighty community that is made up of a diverse group of caring people. Because of the community’s input, energy, passion, and desire, we will continue to build a stronger school district, one that rallies around and supports our children so they can be successful citizens. As we continue to reflect on our work, we know that there needs to be continuous improvement and more targeted focus on social emotional learning, culturally responsive teaching, and social justice. It is only through our collective and collaborative efforts that we can accomplish these goals.
I am excited to continue our work as we move into the new school year. There is so much talent, experience, knowledge, and caring in Albany, and I want to let you all know that my door is always open to assistance, suggestions, and ideas.