Burlington education administrators say they're taking the first step to tackle racism on school grounds. The school board approved new guidelines Tuesday night following the uproar over the Superintendent's handling of racial incidents last fall.
Boardmembers say the moves do more than just improve how incidents are handled when they occur. They say the measures will help the school community adopt a more inclusive and multicultural mindset.
The handling of incidents involving diversity - whether racial, socio-economic, or cultural - nearly cost Burlington Schools Superintendent Jeannie Collins her job this summer. The issue split the board then, but Tuesday, it voted unanimously on motions meant to knock down the division between students of different backgrounds.
"If we don't actively promote inclusion and equity, we're passively accepting an environment where some students are excluded and others are not supported in the way they need to succeed," said school board member Paul Hochanadel.
The board signed-off on a new policy and strategies for success. They focus on closing gaps in academic achievement, inclusion and staff diversity. It also unveiled a report based on the '10-'11 school year that - when paired with a report due in February - will serve as a baseline for future improvement.
The results indicate wide gaps: - Non-whites are less likely to perform well on standardized tests - As are those who qualify for the free lunch program - Black students are three times more likely to be suspended from school; poorer students are four times more likely.
Burlington High English teacher Reuben Jackson says he's thrilled to see the board begin to address the fact that 28 percent of students are non-white, but only three percent of teachers. He warned though that quotas without qualifications could hurt the cause. "If people think, I, an educator of color, I'm just here because of the way I look,we've got a few more walls to paint," he said.
Superintendent Jeannie Collins says complaints about insensitivity are up this year since implementing some steps. But, she says that's expected and a positive sign. "What is happening is we're starting to see people come to us and say I felt really uncomfortable about that and start to talk about what just happened," she explained, "whereas before people were quiet."
The school board's February report will deal with '11 - '12 academic school year statistics. So, the new policy's effect won't begin to show until the following year's report which will encapsulate the experience of current students.
Sunday, May 19 2013 12:06 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:06:03 GMT
Vermont State Police have charged 22-year-old Adam Page of Newport for stealing the Newport City Elementary School bus, which has now been declared totaled. A stolen dog was also recovered in the busMore >>
State Police say he is also being charged with the theft of two other vehicles and a woman's dog.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:45 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:45:20 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:10 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:10:53 GMT
A fatal accident in Lyndon Saturday. It happened around 2:30 Saturday afternoon on Route 122. Police say 76-year-old Gerda Blaszczyk of St. Johnsbury swerved to avoid an animal. Her car travelled up anMore >>
Police say the driver swerved to avoid an animal.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
It's graduation day for the class of 20-13 at Castleton State College. And just for the occasion, the college invited back an alumnus with a strong connection to the school.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>