Over the past summer, representatives from the CCS district met with a new organization, Carmel Against Racial Injustice, to discuss educational reforms and racial equity within the school district. In light of this, the district has announced plans to incorporate several steps to promote equality.
According to Assistant Superintendent Tom Oestreich, the district plans to create a diversity website, form an equity and inclusion advisory committee and continually listen to members of the school community. “The district strives to create an ‘Identity Safe’ classroom. In order to get there, we’re looking to create, in the very near future, an equity and inclusion advisory committee,” Oestreich said. “Additionally, we’re creating a website to recognize that we certainly can get better, and in our equity and inclusion, we’ll work with every school with the Carmel Clay district and listen to their perspectives.”
The HiLite staff praises the district for its work in promoting racial inclusivity and recognize its efforts. However, while we recognize this is a step in the right direction, there is more to be done to increase racial inclusivity and to make students from all backgrounds feel comfortable, respected and safe. With this, there are a variety of actions the administration should consider taking to make their school more welcoming. To start, we recommend the district take action and hire more diverse staff members to make every student feel represented at Carmel.
Currently, all of the administrators at CHS are white and the majority of teachers are also white. In order for the district to be welcoming to all races, students must see themselves represented. Taking this crucial step could lead to making more students feel comfortable enough to approach an adult if they are victims of racial bullying.
Students must feel comfortable enough to approach their teachers, and they may not feel so if the adults in their lives cannot relate to their background. In order to make this happen, the district must diversify not only the administration but also the teaching and counseling staff.
Furthermore, we suggest that the school adjusts the curriculum to incorporate more black history and step away from its primarily Eurocentric curriculum. The current curriculum too often focuses on teaching certain historical events and topics and skips over or lightly covers others of equal if not more importance.
We must look at the history of our country holistically, learning about both the good parts as well as the harsh realities of our history to improve and correct them now.
As part of the student body, we have seen first-hand some of the negative social repercussions students of color have faced when they try to embrace their culture and express themselves. As a result, many students fear openly expressing their experiences with racism at school.
To that end, we recommend the school district be clearer on the expectations of student behavior and consequences that follow racist bullying. In order to execute this, the HiLite staff recommends the district lay out a specific course of action to ensure that fair punishments be given out to any racial bullying and make this school a safe space for people of color.