2006 - 2007 Goals/Action Steps/Year-End Evaluation


(Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity)

This page details the different strands of my job, my long-term and short-term goals, the action-steps I will take to achieve these goals, and my year-end evalauation of my work. Each goal and evaluation method is directly connected to a specific strand of the job. My intent is to make it easy for you to see how the work I do is intended to lead to eliminating race and class as predictors of student success.
The strands of the job
  1. Support the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Educational Equity and the ICSD Board goal to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.
  2. Continue developing collaborative partnerships with the many communities in Ithaca which are actively working to help the school district achieve educational equity.
  3. Provide workshops for administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, community, and service employees in equity-related topics.
  4. Provide coaching and classroom modeling in best practices related to educational equity, including classroom environment.
  5. Facilitate and support action research groups relating to educational equity.
  6. Facilitate and support district equity mentors.
  7. Co-Facilitate new-teacher mentoring program.

The long term goals for each strand
Strand 1:
Race and class are not predictors of student success.

Strand 2:
Race and class are not predictors of student success.

Strand 3:
There are numerous, diverse, vibrant, effective community-district partnerships acting to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.

Strand 4:
100% attendance rate of administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, community, and service employees in at least one workshop series per year focused on equity-related topics.


75% staff attendance rate of administrators and teachers in multiple workshops focused on equity-related topics yearly.
50% staff attendance rate of paraprofessionals and service employees in multiple workshops focused on equity-related topics yearly.
Strand 5: Coach and/or model best practices related to educational equity with at least 1 teacher in every school.
Strand 6: Actively collaborate with 1 action research group, focused on educational equity, in every school.
Strand 7: Equity mentors provide significant and effective leadership in each building.
Strand 8: Educational Equity is fully-integrated into the new teacher mentoring program.

Action Steps for long-term goals
  • Establish an ongoing group of ICSD staff, rural and city folks, including White people who are not economically privileged, African American folks, and other folks of Color who together develop:
    1. An explanation of the specific ways in which racism and classism have functioned historically, both in the United States in general and in Ithaca specifically, to limit educational success for students of color and students whose families are not economically privileged.
    2. An action plan to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.
    3. Implement, with the full support of the ICSD, the action plan
  • Establish multiple transparent and efficient mechanisms for community-district collaboration to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success, such as:
    1. On-going dialogues about the nature and impact of racism and classism in the ICSD and the community.
    2. Ongoing dialogues for combating racism and classism in the ICSD and the community.
    3. Procedures for taking joint anti-racist and anti-classist action.
  • Integrate anti-racism and anti-classism components into the mentoring program.
  • Support the Data Analysis aspect of the Strategic Action Plan to Promote Equity in the ICSD by facilitating the inclusion of data into SASI relating to student discipline, participation in extracurricular activities, and inclusion in school-wide recognition/awards activities, such as “student of the quarter” at Dewitt and Boynton.
  • Provide a diverse series of one-time and long-term anti-racism and anti-classism workshops in particular, as well as equity-related workshops in general.
  • Maintain a clearly publicized menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related workshops which I can provide to service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.
  • Maintain a clearly publicized menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related best practices which I can model for, and act as a coach for service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.
  • Meet regularly with action research groups focusing on educational equity and identify ways in which I can support their efforts.
  • Identify and actively work to eliminate the specific barriers impeding the work of each equity mentor in her/his building, as well as the group of equity mentors collectively.
  • Evaluate my work in progress to ensure that it is grounded in theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it is leading to concrete change for students.

Evaluation criteria for Long-Term Goals
(Evidence of success will be measured in the following ways)

Strand 1:
If there is no measurable difference in student success in the ICSD when statistics and anecdotal information is broken down by race and class.


Documentation of the specific ways that my work has been grounded in both theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it has lead to concrete change for students.
Strand 2:
If there is no measurable difference in student success in the ICSD when statistics and anecdotal information is broken down by race and class.


Documentation of the specific ways that my work has been grounded in both theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it has lead to concrete change for students.
Strand #3:
Documentation of the ways in which numerous, diverse, vibrant, community-district partnerships effectively act to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.

Strand #4:
Documentation of 100% attendance rate of administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, community, and service employees in at least one workshop series per year focused on equity-related topics.

Documentation of 75% staff attendance rate of administrators and teachers in multiple workshops focused on equity-related topics yearly.
Documentation of 50% staff attendance rate of paraprofessionals and service employees in multiple workshops focused on equity-related topics yearly.
Strand #5:
Documentation of coaching and/or modeling collaborations with at least 1 teacher in every school.

Strand #6:
Documentation of collaborations with 1 action research group, focused on educational equity, in every school.

Strand #7:
Written summary of the ways in which Equity Mentors have provided significant and effective leadership in each building.

Strand #8:
Documentation of the ways in which educational equity is fully-integrated into the new teacher mentoring program.



The short term goals for each strand
Strand 1:
Identify specific ways that my work can support the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Educational Equity.

Strand 2:
Identify ways that my work can support the ICSD School Board goal to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.

Strand 3:
Provide textbooks to GIAC, Southside, and other community organizations which run regular tutoring and homework programs for ICSD students.

Identify ICSD staff, as well as leaders in both rural and city communities of color and in the communities of folks, both white and those of color, who are not economically privileged, and engage in dialogue with each about ways in which I can support their efforts to make the ICSD more equitable for the children of their community.
Strand 4:
Publicize a menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related workshops which I can provide to service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.

Provide a number of one-time and long-term anti-racism and anti-classism workshops in particular, as well as equity-related workshops in general.
Strand 5:
Publicize a menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related best practices which I can model for, and act as a coach for service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.

Coach and/or model best practices related to educational equity with at least one teacher in four different schools.
Strand 6:
Identify the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.

Identify the people involved in each of the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.
Identify the meeting times and locations for each of the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.
Strand 7:
Establish monthly meeting schedule with the equity mentors group.

Establish long-term and short-term goals and action steps for the equity mentors group.
Establish regular meeting schedule with each equity mentor.
Establish long-term and short-term goals and action steps with each equity mentor.

Strand 8: Determine the extent to which equity in general, and anti-racism and anti-classism in training in particular, is integrated into the current mentoring program. Find meaningful ways to add more anti-racism and anti-classism training into the mentoring program.

Action Steps for short-term goals:
  • Create regular times in each building to be available for informal dialogue with teachers and administrators about equity, specifically about the barriers they encounter in their work to create anti-racist and anti-classist schools.
  • Develop and nurture supportive relationships with effective leaders in each building who are working to create anti-racist and anti-classist schools.
  • Provide a course for staff and administrators entitle “Black History is American History.”
  • Facilitate a text-based discussion group focusing on racism, using the book Taking it Personally, for ICSD Social Workers.
  • Provide a structure for the “Close the Achievement Gap Now!” “Undoing Racism,” and “Literacy Initiative” groups to continue working together.
  • Meet with key folks from GIAC, Southside, Brooktondale Community Center, and Enfield Community Center to find out ways in which ISCD and their respective communities can effectively collaborate to fight racism and classism.
  • Identify Equity Mentors and develop/refine the goals and procedures for the Equity Mentor Program.
  • Meet formally with each administrator to begin a dialogue about the ways in which her/his school will work to eliminate race and class as predictors of success.
  • Create a current web page with equity-related content and links.
  • Identify the purpose(s) and make-up of each of the current and planned action research projects.
  • Identify the current action research groups focusing on educational equity, as well as their meeting dates and the people in each group.
  • Provide peer coaching for XXXXX (LACS Teacher) and XXXXX (South Hill Teacher).
  • Collaborate with other staff developers to provide literacy training to DeWitt Middle School, making explicit the connections between literacy and anti-racism and anti-classism work.
  • Read and analyze the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Educational Equity.
  • Establish criteria by which to evaluate my work in progress, as well as to inform my planning, in terms of the extent to which each supports the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Educational Equity.
  • Establish criteria by which to evaluate my work in progress, as well as to inform my planning, in terms of the extent to which each supports the ICSD school board goal to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.
  • Establish criteria by which to evaluate my work in progress, as well as to inform my planning, in order to judge the extent to which it is grounded in both theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it is leading to concrete change for students.
  • Analyze and evaluate the current mentoring program, from the perspective of anti-racism and anti-classism training, in particular, and from the perspective of educational equity in general.

Evaluation criteria for Short-Term Goals
(Evidence of success will be measured in the following ways)

Strand 1:
Clear documentation of the specific ways that my work supports the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Educational Equity.


Documentation of the specific ways that my work has been grounded in both theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it has lead to concrete change for students.


Strand 2:
Clear documentation of the specific ways that my work supports the ICSD School Board goal to eliminate race and class as predictors of student success.

Documentation of the specific ways that my work has been grounded in both theory and practice, as well as the extent to which it has lead to concrete change for students.

Strand 3:
GIAC, Southside, and other community organizations which run regular tutoring and homework programs for ICSD students will have the textbooks they need for the students they tutor.

A list of the names of specific ICSD staff, along with leaders in both rural and city communities of color and in the communities of folks, both white and those of color, who are not economically privileged, will be identified.
A written summary of initial dialogues between myself, ICSD staff, and specific leaders in both rural and city communities of color and in the communities of folks, both white and those of color, who are not economically privileged, about ways in which I can support their efforts to make the ICSD more equitable for the children of their community.

Strand 4:
A hard copy and online menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related workshops which I can provide to service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.


Strand 5:
A hard copy and online menu of anti-racism, anti-classism, and general equity-related best practices which I can model for, and act as a coach for service employees, paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers.

Documentation of coaching and/or modeling collaborations with at least 1 teacher in four different schools.
Anecdotal records of informal dialogues with teachers and administrators in four different schools.

Strand 6:
A list of the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.

A list of the people involved in each of the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.
A calendar of meeting dates, times, and locations of the current and planned action research groups working throughout the district which have, or should have, an educational equity component.


Strand 7:
Agenda and summary of monthly meetings with the equity mentors group.

Written documentation of long-term and short-term goals and action steps for the equity mentors group.
A calendar and summary of regular meetings with each equity mentor.
Written documentation of long-term and short-term goals and action steps with each equity mentor.

Strand 8: Documentation of revisions to the mentoring program, making the anti-racism and anti-classism elements more explicit and prominent.

Barry Derfel
Instructional Specialist for Educational Equity
607-277-5270
bderfel@icsd.k12.ny.us






Barry Derfel
5-Levels Reflection (Based on the Guskey Model)
6/20/07


Participant reactions:
In general, there are four kinds of people I have worked with this year, and I will share how people in each category have reacted to my efforts. First, I have collaborated with people who have been committed to creating equity in the Ithaca City School District for a long time. Most people in this category were initially skeptical of my efforts, expressing the belief that my intentions were good but that I would have little to no success making any change, or in providing them with support. Comments such as “you can’t take apart the master’s house with the master’s tools,” or “you can’t change the system from the inside,” and “I understand that there are certain expectations for you in your new role…” were expressed to me often, especially in my first attempts at reaching out. Over time, however, I believe that most of these people came to see my work as both effective and supportive. Comments such as “our district seems to be at real turning point in this work, a place that we haven’t been in since the Affirmative Action Office was dismantled,” and “Thank you for all your hard work this year and for all the Friday meetings. With your leadership I feel we can really make some change,” support this assessment. There were also some folks who have been at this work a long time who did not react skeptically to me or my efforts. Typical statements included “if anyone can do this work effectively, you can,” or “I can’t believe they let you get this job, but maybe this means they’re ready to really do this work.” By the end of the year, I was sent messages like “thanks for "listening" to my thoughts [this year]… I really like your take on the
position... Equity is about more that just good teaching…”

A second category of people I have worked with this year are those who have expressed an interest in more actively joining the effort to create equity in the ICSD. For this group, their initial comments suggested optimism about my efforts and their desire to get involved. These folks often asked for my help. For example, a teacher wanted me to come in and observe her classes. She wrote, “I'm taking my students on a field trip next Thursday, and it will be crazy until then, so how about sometime after Thursday? My tough classes are in the afternoon (1 to 3:30), mostly minority students. Let me know. I'm sure I could learn a lot from you.” Another example is from a teacher who was new to the district. She writes, “As you can see, when I heard about you in your new position, and then read what you were doing in your staff development today...I was excited, but, then, I couldn't attend due having to work on getting my classroom ready...So, I thought I'd just send you this note, and see if perhaps we couldn't meet at some point. As you can see, what I am planning on doing for my project is something that I really want to sow the seeds for all year… So, I hope to have the opportunity to take your staff development, should you offer it again. But, also, particularly as I think re: what I will do in my class with this project, I'd love to buy you some tea or coffee and pick your brain for any ideas you might have, directions to point me in, etc.” By the end of the year, the majority of people in this category indicated that my work had directly supported their efforts. For instance, in response to an observation I wrote up for a new teacher who asked me to come in and apply a critical anti-bias lens to her classroom, she wrote, “Barry, it's great, and most useful....thank you so much for doing this....” Another teacher who I regularly met with to talk about her classroom practices simply wrote “thanks for your coaching.”

A third category of people I worked with this year are those who had not really thought much about the issue of equity in the ICSD. Many of these folks came up to me after one of my workshops or staff meeting presentations to tell me that they enjoyed the activity and had never really thought about “these issues” before. Many of their specific comments are identified below under the participant learning section.
Finally, a fourth set of people I worked with this year are those who question and actively resist my work. For some of these people, I was able to provide them with a safe way to express their concerns, and in the process of conversation help uncover some of the reasons behind their resistance. At these times, I learned a great deal about how I might provide opportunities for them to let go of some of their resistance and find ways give equity work a chance. Additionally, such conversations often gave me a chance to help them see how their negative experiences in the past could be used to inform my current efforts. This often led to collaboration. An example of this can be seen in the comments of an educator with whom I worked to co-present a workshop series on rural poverty. At our final meeting, when the large group was discussing next steps, she stated to everyone in the room that “this is the first time the district has a person doing this work who is willing to take on the issue of rural poverty.”

Participant Learning:
Some of the main themes that I worked on this year included:
  • Networking to build support and increase effectiveness
  • The relationship between discipline, expectations, and racism
  • Affirming rural youth and families
  • The Strategic Action Plan for Equity as a support to push our work
  • Best practices can be easy and effective
  • Transparency, two-way communication, and candid conversation
These themes grounded much of the work I did with staff, administrators, and community. Significant success was achieved in each of these areas.

My work in relation to the theme of networking is most easily seen on the ICSD Equity Webpage, where notes from the monthly networking meetings clearly reflect a growing network of people working to support equity work. This diverse network consists of people within the district and people within community. This networking theme carried over into much of my other work. For example, in my work with the equity mentors, I really encouraged them to see themselves as networkers, working to support the efforts of the staff in their buildings. The comments of the IHS equity mentor show how she internalized this concept. In her words, “as I learned my way through the confusion and scope of Ithaca High School, I found one-on-one personal communication the most effective way to get through to folks. Also, as I found other like-minded people, I was encouraged by their positive feedback and support. Often it was the TA’s, social workers, or other non-content teachers who were most interested in pursuing equity issues. I think classroom teachers are just so overwhelmed that it is hard for them to give anymore. But there are a lot of good things going on here (AVID, 9 th grade Initiative, and others) and when I joined them (as opposed to dictating to them), I felt some success (Emphasis mine).” As the year progressed, I received daily phone calls and/or e-mails from people asking my help in dealing with an issue relating to equity. While there were times when I was able to provide direct help with the issue of concern, for the most part I directed such inquiries to district personnel and community members who were most qualified to provide direct support. These daily requests show that staff and community learned that I was a resource to help link them to others who could support their efforts to create equity in the ICSD. In this sense, I learned how to be a networker.

In terms of the relationship between discipline, expectations, and race, many white staff expressed that they had never really thought critically about their own expectations for children of color, especially in terms of the connections between behavioral and academic performance. For instance, from the 3/24/07 workshop on “Inspiring and Affirming Classrooms,” one teacher wrote that she learned “the connection between motivation and racism.” Another participant stated that she/he learned “to be persistent and consistent in my expectations.” A third participant learned “how important it is to intervene re: racism…and that kids need to feel safe to learn.” Throughout the work I did this year in different buildings, I encouraged people to think critically about these connections, and I provided significant support, in terms of resources, coaching, and as discussion facilitator, to help them unlearn their internalized racism and learn how to create counter-narratives in their thinking and practice.

There has been significant progress made in terms of staff development around the theme of affirming rural youth and families. For a pre-k -12 Affirming Rural Youth workshop that I co-facilitated with Carrie Kerr, representatives from every building participated. This cross-representation suggests to me that this offering addressed an issue of widespread concern and interest throughout the district. Some of the evaluation comments from participants included “I never knew anything about people who live on Buffalo Hill Road before. This really changes my perspective,” or “This workshop allowed me to learn more about what is going on in the district and what is needed.” In addition, Kevin Brew, the Caroline Elementary School PTA President, attended a number of the monthly networking meetings, and stated at one of these meetings that he had not known about the efforts I am making to diversify the ICSD data collection system to include data about rural youth and families, and my hope of adding some of this data into the 2007 ICSD-VAI Equity Report Card. He commented that “this seems like a step in the right direction.” At Ithaca High School, I met with the 9 th grade initiative team to deliver a workshop on this topic. At one of these meetings, a teacher stated “I don’t even know what ‘red-neck’ means.” Another teacher said, “…and I hear a lot of students referring to themselves in this way. It’s almost like it’s a source of pride.” Their candor allowed me to provide accurate information about the origin of this term (white people who work outdoors during the day, often in farming or construction, whose necks become red from sun-burn) as well as a chance to help them make connections between their reclaiming of this term and the ways in which some African Americans and some people in Gay/Lesbian communities have reclaimed words that have been used against themselves. Many of the teachers expressed that this connection was new to them, and that it made a lot of sense. At the conclusion of the meeting, a number of the teachers told me that “this was an extremely informative meeting. You need to come back again.”

Around the theme of the Strategic Action Plan for Equity as supporting and pushing the work of eliminating race, class, and disability as predictors of student success, many staff and community members indicated that the roll-out workshops helped them understand how the plan can be used to push equity work forward, especially when they meet resistance from people or procedures within the school system. Along with this feedback, I heard even more people state that “I never even read this plan before. I had no idea what it was.” I worked in collaboration with Kim Fontana and Alaine Troisi to present a “Strategic Action Plan Roll-Out” workshop to staff at Caroline Elementary School (12/6/06), and with Kim Fontana to present this workshop to the Equity Mentors (12/14/06), the administrative team (3/6/07), the guidance counselors (4/27/07), and the DeWitt/Boynton PTA (5/14/07). I also presented this workshop on my own to the Northeast Staff (12/20/06), Boynton Staff (3/15/07), Belle Sherman Staff (5/7/07), and Fall Creek Staff (5/2/07). I can identify direct connections between all of the other work I have done this year and specific elements of the Strategic Action Plan, although I do not have explicit hard-copy documentation of this.
There are a number of methods I used to teach staff that best practices can be easy and effective. The “equity challenges of the week” was one approach. These were posted online at the end of each week and were posted or otherwise shared at the building level by the equity mentors. I also conducted a workshop at DeWitt (3/2/8/07) that specifically addressed these challenges and their implementation as best practices. A teacher from DeWitt wrote on her/his evaluation form that what she/he likes about these is that “they are reminders about things we should be doing anyway, the location of where they are posted, and they are relatively easy to do.” In supermarkets, hallways, restaurants, and around town, many people told me how these made them think about issues that they usually never think about. One person said, “Wow, are you responsible for those weekly things about equity? I don’t always do them, but they I always think about them.” An ESOL teacher told me she liked them because “they’re easy to do but I don’t always think about them.”

My work around the theme of transparency, two-way communication, and candid conversation was mainly in the form of modeling and coaching. To begin with, the ISCD Equity Website (http://www.icsd.k12.ny.us/district/staffdev/bderfel/) which I created in September provided a model for how we can each make our equity efforts visible to students, families, staff, and community. I received significant positive feedback about this, with people telling me things like “I never thought of putting my goals online before,” or “I wish administrators would do what you’ve done on your website.” Comments such as these show me that people learned what transparency could look like. At a workshop presentation to Boynton staff, an issue was raised about transportation to and from Southside and Cayuga Heights. I used this as an opportunity to model two-way communication and candid conversation. I told staff that I would ask central office administrators if they could clarify the situation, so that rumors could be dispelled and informed problem-solving could be pursued. Boynton staff and I learned that this direct approach can be effective, when we (I consider myself both facilitator and participant in this situation) received an official letter from Tiffany Phillips addressing the issue. In addition, I worked in collaboration with Boynton Administrators and the building equity mentor to engage in candid conversation about the multiple implications of comments made by the mentor at a public board meeting. I facilitated two-way communication between the administrators and the teacher, and together we developed a plan for engaging staff in candid and complex conversations about the issues raised by the mentor’s comments. I facilitated small-team meetings where the complexity of these issues was discussed openly and honestly. Direct verbal feedback from staff and administrators indicated that all had learned how to use a potential problem or crisis situation to model new and effective ways to push equity work forward. An e-mail from one of these people states “Thanks for coming down today...our conversations always help get my head back on straight. Be confident that our work together will ALWAYS benefit those we touch!”

Organizational Change:
In terms of organizational change, my work as instructional specialist for educational equity has had direct impact in a number or areas. This does not imply in any way that the work is done, but it suggests that many of the methods I have been using are helping to move our organization in the right direction. To begin with, I have been able to impact the hiring process. I was asked by Roberta Wallitt of the Village at Ithaca’s Systemic Solutions Committee to join a series of meetings of the ICSD human resources committee. At one of these meetings, she and I collaborated to develop new wording to be placed at the top of every job posting. This new wording, “ ICSD is committed to eliminating race, class and disability as predictors of student success. Qualified candidates will demonstrate a basic awareness of this issue and a strong willingness to support this effort” was adopted by the committee and is now stated in bold italics at the top of every job posting. Furthermore, I have collaborated with the director of human resources, Melina Carnicelli, and Roberta Wallitt, of the VAI, to develop a training session for ICSD teachers who wish to serve on screening and interview committees. These trainings will be available for teachers in the fall of 2007.
A second area in which I have had organizational impact centers on the Strategic Action Plan for Equity. With initial guidance from Alaine Troisi and Kim Fontana, and with continued collaboration with Kim Fontana, I made this document accessible to a significant number of teachers and members of the community through special roll-out workshops. Along with sharing the details of this plan with multiple audiences (identified in section 2) I engaged their input about the ways in which their stakeholder groups and the ICSD are currently meeting some of the specifics of the plan and the ways in which they would like to push this work forward. These stakeholder groups also identified specific institutional barriers impeding their efforts to support the ICSD board goal of eliminating race, class, and disability as predictors of student success and specific suggestions about the ways in which the ICSD can work to remove these barriers. The specific notes from each of these sessions are available upon request.

Two specific impacts related to these roll-out sessions can be seen in the work of Diane Carruthers, the LACS Equity Mentor. Having attended a number of SAP roll-out workshops, Diane was able to make explicit connections between this plan and the equity work that needs to be done in her building. For example, Diane is beginning to coordinate a project between the ICSD and local colleges with teacher education programs, to develop concrete strategies to address the 7th element of the ICSD Strategic Action Plan for Equity, which is to assure that new teachers and administrators have a thorough understanding of issues of equity in education and a commitment to diversity and multiculturalism in curriculum, instructional strategies, and school programs. Secondly, Diane has presented a proposal to the LACS that is grounded in the strategic action plan. The details of this proposal are as follows:
  • “This proposal comes from the work of participants in the Equity Breakfasts. We used the ideas put forth by Karen Friedeborn’s letter to the school, the recommendations of the Senior Team, and task groups that met during the breakfasts. We recommend that the staff take the following steps toward ending race and class as predictors of student performance at LACS.
  • ICSD Strategic Plan for Equity
    We propose that we use this plan to guide our work. We recommend that we invite Kim Fontana to a staff meeting early next September to help us define our priorities for next year.
    • School Culture/Setting and achieving high expectations for all students
      We propose to work on this big issue in the following ways:
      • Summer reading —the expectation that we read a common text (or perhaps choose from 2-3). Joe has some funds set aside to purchase books for us. Kim Fontana may also be able to help provide texts for our use. We would use some part of August Workshop or September Staff Meeting for text based discussions. Some suggestions:
        • Young, Gifted and Black, Theresa Perry, et al
        • Courageous Conversations, Singleton and Linton
        • Taking It Personally, Berlak and Moyenda
    • Parent/caregiver groups and participation —we recognize the need to get more active parent participation. This might mean restructuring Open House, having “cultural gatherings” and potlucks by family group or all school, having more parent discussion groups. We need to make sure all parents and caregivers feel comfortable participating on every level. We recommend that a summer task group explore ways to increase parent participation.
    • Equity Minutes — We propose that some part of each staff meeting (2—15 minutes) be devoted to best practice ideas we are using in our classes to achieve equity. The Equity Mentor will coordinate this effort and all staff members will be encouraged to lead a “Minute”. We hope by having regular conversations together as a staff, we will become more intentional and proactive about improving our school culture.
    • School Visits —We recommend that groups of students and staff visit other schools that are working to achieve equity.
    • No Zero Policy —Work with Barry Derfel on a comprehensive plan to ensure the success of all students in our classrooms.
    • Admissions process—adjusting the process and making it more transparen.
    • We have made great progress in this area this year and the word is spreading particularly among parents of African American children that LACS is striving to achieve equity. We recommend that Site-Based Council oversees and reviews this policy annually.
    • Record Keeping and Exit Surveys—keeping track of who applies to LACS and why students leave
    • We recommend that Site-Based Council oversees this. The Senior Team has drafted documents to be used for this purpose.
    • Improving/Restructuring Family Group
    • We recommend that through staff development we continue to improve Family Group. We might want to look at FG as time for academic support, democratic participation, anti-bias work, group skill building. We recommend that a summer task group explore family group improvement/restructuring.
    • Academic Support/College Preparatory Program.
    • We recommend that we explore a program such as AVID. We recommend that a summer task group explore this possibility and look for ways to incorporate more academic support into project splits.


A third area that I have created organizational impact relates to the theme of affirming rural youth and families. Having used the film “ Dream Street on Buffalo Hill” in a number of my workshops, it became clear that this was an effective tool for helping educators examine their beliefs and stereotypes about rural students, especially rural students whose families are not economically privileged. I contacted Gossa Tsegaye, the producer of this film, and asked him for permission to share it with ICSD staff so that they could use it to facilitate viewings with their colleagues. Mr. Tsegaye made me a DVD copy, and granted me permission to reproduce copies as needed. To date, 4 copies of the DVD have been loaned out for individual teacher use, and two copies have been loaned out for small group use. Another method I used for teaching about rural youth and families was to develop, at the request of Principal Joe Wilson, a 2-4 hour workshop specifically designed to meet the needs of Ithaca High School Professional Learning Communities. I piloted this workshop in the spring of 2007, with the teachers of the 9 th grade initiative. As a result, they have asked me to continue working with them in the fall. It is highly likely that this workshop will be requested by other PLC’s at Ithaca High School, as well.

A fourth area of organizational change relates to building partnerships to achieve equity. After an initial meeting with the SPIRIT group at Ithaca High School, I recognized an opportunity to bring together students and families from diverse racial and economic backgrounds. Based on the depth of understanding and the honesty with which these young people spoke about their experiences, I suggested filming this group formally discussing their experiences, and then turning this film into a DVD. The plan then called for me to invite all of these students and their families to a viewing of the film, with me then facilitating a discussion about the ways in which these young people and their families have experiences that are similar, the ways in which some of their experiences may be unique, and the ways in which the school might work towards creating a more affirming experience for all students. The unique element to this project is that the DVD would serve to foster cross-cultural, cross-geographical, and cross-economic status dialogues among and between families. To date, the DVD has been created and the first viewing has already taken place. The students and families have committed to meeting in the early fall to watch a revised version and to plan specific next steps.

Participant Change:
I see clear evidence that my efforts have led to changes in the practice and attitudes of people I have worked with. The following e-mail message provides one such example: “Dear Barry, I have been trying to figure out why I keep asking you the same question. It seems as though I have not been wanting or willing to look at my role in the dynamic between myself and my students and wanting to blame my students for their behavior. So I am going to stop complaining and blaming my students for the behaviors I described to you and see what I notice about myself. I do believe that all it takes is for me to change the dynamics. I'll let you know if I have any breakthroughs. Thanks for your commitment to equity and diversity.” Another colleague asked me to review a student-contract she had created as a strategy to engage more students in her class. I provided her with both positive feedback and specific suggestions for revision. She replied to my suggestions by writing, “wow, these are grrrreat suggestions! i'll rewrite and resend to you. thank you!”

In another example, I had presented a workshop at the LACS infusion day called “Reverse Racism and other Myths.” As a result of this workshop, two family group leaders asked me to come in and work directly with their students to engage them in dialogue about these issues. I did this twice, and afterwards these family groups continued these conversations on their own.

A teacher at Ithaca High School wrote, “Barry, if you hadn’t commented on my last calendar, I wouldn’t have been as diligent about seeking a new calendar that served multi-cultural needs—especially as various members of my family had given me three Colorado calendars…I’ve also had three separate teachers ask me what I planned to do with the images from the old calendar, wanting them for their own rooms.”
At Beverley J. Martin Elementary School, I modeled a series of lessons about King’s theory of nonviolence. The teacher that I worked with wrote me the following note: “Barry, [we’re] in the library this a.m. I’ll show your 2 nd DVD and we’ll use this form. (Attached) Thanks for your work on this.” The form clearly shows that the teacher integrated the lesson I had modeled into his lesson about the Nashville Tennessee protests of 1960.

A district-level administrator told me that his wife, who attended the March 23 rd superintendent’s conference day workshop “Inspiring and Affirming Classrooms” I co-presented, came home “very impressed with the presentation and that it stimulated lots of deep conversation at home.”

In another instance, a teacher sent me an e-mail that said “I actually did another equity challenge. Today I talked about class with the children. I related it to our timeline project and how most events and people highlighted in the 1800’s – 1900’s were rich white men of the upper class. We discussed why and how, and then moved into who goes to college and why and how.”
Student Learning:

I have a lot of evidence that my efforts have led to student learning. My action-research project addresses this directly, and is available upon request. In one case, a teacher at Fall Creek Elementary School told me that our text-based discussion about the book Young, Gifted, and Black led her to reflect on her own expectations in relation to African American students. As a result, she said, she had begun asking Black students to re-do work that was sloppy and/or incomplete. She did this in a supportive way, and found that these students began turning in higher quality work. In another case, a teacher who I coached actively sought out a calendar with affirming images of African Americans to hang up in her classroom. She wrote an e-mail to me indicating that “…yesterday I saw two African American girls looking and talking about the new February picture. They were clearly pleased.” In a third situation, I was asked by the school social worker at Northeast Elementary School if I could help her find support for a new African American family, without economic privilege, that had just entered her school. In particular, she wanted me to help her find transportation support so that the children could attend special events. I was able to link this family up with a colleague that I know whose children attend the same school. This colleague has since shared with me that she has brought these children and their adult caregiver to two different school events. She also told me that one of these children has commented to her caregiver that he likes being able to say hello to my colleague’s third grade child, that “knowing someone older” makes him feel good.

I also have some direct feedback from students who participated in classes where I modeled effective practices for teachers. One example is “I learned that there are artists that try to stop all the negative rapping and hip-hop, and the music is still good.” Another wrote, “I did not know that hip-hop was made by fixing record players.” A third student, from another lesson, wrote “I did a workshop with Barry today…it was good. [That] workshop was the best. He really makes you think.” After another workshop, a student wrote about my webpage, “I looked at a very interesting article by Robert Jensen about his wrongly using a North Dakota accent.” Finally, another student at this workshop wrote “I have a question. How come the “n” word used to be such an insult to African Americans, but today, I hear many African Americans just using it as slang. It kinda puzzles me.”
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here are many other such comments that have been sent to me through e-mail or shared with me in discussion and conversation. My general sense is that the work I have done this year has directly impacted educators, the organization, and students.