Schools

Schools Committee Meeting, South Orange / Maplewood Community Coalition on Race

Co-chairs: Carol Barry-Austin, Meredith Sue Willis
Contact: E-Mail meredithsuewillis@gmail.com
Meeting ScheduleMonthly During the School Year: First Tuesday 7:30 PM, South Orange Middle School Library, all are welcome!

Committee Goal:  The school district is stably integrated overall, within academic levels, and schools.  Students of all races are expected and encouraged to excel in a community that is proud and supportive of its students.
Objective 1: Continue to partner with and challenge the district administration to recruit and retain teachers that reflect the racial and cultural makeup of students and encourage the district to explore ongoing cultural competency training of staff.
Objective 2: Continue to inform the discussion of the Minority Achievement Gap and promote strategies to narrow the gap.
Objective 3: Continue to promote parent advocacy, foster student empowerment, family awareness of benefits of social integration of children, and encourage community engagement in our schools and preschools.

Schools-at-a-Glance The Schools Committee has been active for over 15 years. Check out a list of all the community discussions, workshops, forums and educational experiences this committee has brought to the community here.
Achievement Gap To learn more about the racial academic achievement gap and to access educational resources for the classroom, click here.
Parent Advocacy The Schools Committee is committed to helping parents access all the resources available in our community to help their children succeed in school. The Top Ten Tips brochure series is aimed at getting the most out of our schools for our children.
Cultural Competency The Schools Committee has held learning and discussion workshops for both teachers and the community at large on cultural competency: exploring cross-cultural communication and how it affects, parents, teachers, and neighbors.  What is cultural competency? How can our community leverage diversity and become more culturally sensitive? Check out the American Conference on Diversity presentation on Exploring Cultural Dynamics in a Diverse Community and Cultural Competency articles for further reading for more information.
Talking to Children About Race Kids notice race from an early age but many parents are afraid to discuss race openly with their children. How can we talk about race productively? How do these talks differ for families of different races, for adoptive families, for mixed-race families? Click here for a reading list recommended by the committee.
Preschool Open House The Schools Committee hosts a free preschool open house as a community service to families with young children as a way to foster kindergarten readiness. Over 24 preschools and day-care programs from Essex County and beyond participate. Click here for some online resources to read about choosing a quality preschool collected by the Coalition’s Schools Committee.  Also, access our list of local preschools and daycare agencies here.
Board of Education Election Forums Each year of a contested election, the committee invites candidates to address how they will contribute to a school system in which students of all races are achieving academic excellence in an equitable and representative fashion.