DISC Working with School Districts to Embed Cultural Proficiency
"Education is the civil rights issue of our generation, the only sure path out of poverty and the only way to achieve a more equal and just society," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. President Obama stresses the importance of creating a more inclusive and diverse school system. These sentiments are echoed locally by a program for area educators.
The Developing Inclusive Schools Consortium (DISC) is a joint project of Developing Inclusive Schools Communities and Organizations (DISCO) and the Xavier Center for Excellence in Education (XCEED). DISC facilitates a five-day institute on creating and sustaining culturally proficient school districts. The current session is being attended by work teams (superintendents, other district administrators, principals, teachers, and parents) from Edgewood, Forest Hills, Lakota, Mt. Healthy, Newport, Northwest, Norwood, Princeton, Talawanda and West Carrolton school districts. Attendees are eligible for academic credit through Xavier University.
The last session of this year on April 16 at the Cintas Center, the district teams will continue to meet and learn from the DISCO team and from one another as they put their action plans into effect within their district. The focus in April will be on students who are economically disadvantaged.
The first days, held in August, featured nationally-recognized leaders, who provided an intensive introduction to cultural proficiency. October provided opportunities to share issues and best practices within and among districts. Attendees learned about the many messages and issues which concern students and educators today as related to issues of cultural diversity. A highlight of the day was the “Privilege Walk.” (See photo) It underscored the many differing circumstances from which students come to school and provided examples of how personal and societal obstacles can be overcome if students from all backgrounds are viewed as persons with potential. At the January session, participants learned about elements of diversity (e.g., race, ability level) from the DISCO staff.
The ten participating districts contract with DISCO year-to-year, but understand that the process of developing and embedding cultural proficiency in day-to-day practice is a long term commitment. By joining DISC, participating school districts seek to close the academic achievement gap by helping their schools create an inclusive climate, responsive to the challenges of increasing diversity.
“The most productive way to face these diversity challenges is to come together as a consortium to pool costs, learn from each other, and jointly participate in high quality training,” said Dr. Arthur Shriberg, co-director of DISC. “Membership in DISC provides opportunities to administrators, teachers and support staff to do just that.”