ICCSD to provide teachers with additional equity training

The Iowa City School Board is working toward their goal for more culturally responsive teachings in classrooms.

Maggie Huang, Online News Editor

The Iowa City School board discussed plans on providing teachers with additional training regarding implicit bias and cultural responsiveness during their meeting Tuesday night. This training would be mandatory for elementary and secondary teachers. A standard around equity is currently being developed and will be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year’s evaluation models.

Laura Gray, the director of diversity and cultural responsiveness for the ICCSD plans to use a cultural proficiency team to help lead the training this year. “We are going to cover things from cultural proficiency, culturally responsive teaching, implicit bias, microaggressions [and] enacting white supremacy culture,” Gray said.

Regarding teaching sensitive material to students, she said, “When teachers teach slavery or race relations or something that might be controversial or potentially harmful to some, that they can vet it first with a checklist … they can [also] submit their units or lessons to their peers run it through with a culturally responsive checklist.”

In addition to this, Gray also wants teachers to use genuine apologies when mistakes are made. “Any of us are susceptible to a microaggression here or there, even when we deliberately try not to … And so when you make a misstep, a genuine apology and determination not to do it again is the key.”

In the diversity plan outlined by the school board, one of the goals is to incorporate cultural responsiveness and representation into the curriculum review process. These training and new standards in the evaluations would allow for teachers to be more culturally responsive and aware of racial trauma caused by the curriculum.

The district also plans on adding an ombudsperson position to the district. This role would work on answering any complaints or questions by members of the Iowa City community. Additionally, the position would facilitate building trust between the district and the community. The ombudsperson is independent of any other offices and would report directly to the superintendent’s office. More details regarding the position would be released soon.