New Douglas County School Board to discuss district's equity policy

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 25, 2022

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Douglas County School Board is considering a proposal to make changes to the district’s equity policy.

The board is set to discuss a three-page resolution that calls for the district’s superintendent to recommend potential changes to the current equity policy.

The proposed resolution reads in part, “legitimate questions have arisen from School District staff and parents, and the community at large, regarding Board Policy ADB’s underlying assumptions and implementation."

The resolution calls for students to be exposed to age-appropriate curricula designed to not only reflect the kind of balance referenced above, but also to build a strong foundation for critical thinking.

“We should promote our common humanity to include achieving unique potential without forced equality of outcomes,” the resolution reads.

The district’s current equity policy is also three pages and calls for the district to establish an inclusive culture and equitable education.

It focuses on six areas in particular: diversity, inclusion, equity, accessibility, identity and representation.

That policy was passed in March and has yet to be implemented in schools.

Former Douglas County school board member Kevin Leung worked at length to help craft the district’s current policy and says there was a two-year stakeholder process and multiple drafts and votes before it was approved.

He disagrees with the current proposed resolution to change the policy before it has even had a chance to be implemented.

“You’re just negating all of the effort that we have in the past two years, countless meetings and countless readings,” Leung said. “You just telling them that your past two years' effort means nothing, we do not treasure what you did before.”

Leung insists the current equity policy has nothing to do with teaching critical race theory in schools and he believes there’s a lot of misunderstandings about what it is and what it does.

“We have to ask ourselves why we are making these changes when there is nothing that shows that this current policy has caused any issues whatsoever,” he said.

He read through the proposed resolution and says parts of it are confusing and use loaded language. Instead of rushing to change things, he’s calling for the process to be slowed down and deliberated thoroughly.

Others like retired teacher Linda Mazunik think the conversation about equity in schools has gotten confusing for families. She wrote an op-ed last year discussing thee concerns with the district’s current policy and says the language used is important.

“I really think we need to define our terms, and racism is something that's part of our history, and we should teach that. But should we be dividing kids into affinity groups, and making them feel more separate? I really question that,” Mazunik said.

Mazunik wants to see history and ideas like racism taught in a nonpolitical way that doesn’t focus on division but brings groups together to have thoughtful conversations and debates.

“I think we need to define what we're talking about, first of all, and allow for conversation about looking at different sides of issues. Is there anything you think about this? We should teach critical thinking and not critical race theory,” she said.

Denver7 reached out to the school board’s new president and the district for interviews and was told they do not want to get ahead of the discussions, so they were not offering interviews at this time.

Parents were planning to hold a protest outside of the district headquarters ahead of that school board meeting but postponed it due to the weather.