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Case study

Diversity Should Unite, Not Divide

NEA's diversity training gave these educators (and their allies) a common language, allowing them to reflect, improve their practice and lead others.
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Published: March 1, 2021

In 2009-10, the District offered the Diversity Dinner Video (it was awful). The District began offering NEA’s Culture Diversity training in 2010-11 and has offered it each year since. Each training has involved a cohort comprised of certified teachers, administration, and classified employees (food service custodial, paraeducator professionals, and secretaries). 

The community has been invited to attend Diversity training from the beginning and has included members from the public library, hospital, church pastors, fire department, police department, school board members, Midwest Grain mid-level managers, and the Atchison Globe newspaper editor. We have had approximately 169 staff members trained.

“Identify and remove all barriers to promote equal opportunities for success by all students.”

In order to best teach our children about our diverse community; one must understand self and others. We have found the NEA training to be insightful. It positively impacts the ability to work with our community and students. Our long-term goal is that all staff participates in this training. The training has given insight into bias and perception as well as the ability to better enhance practices that full-fill our mission of “Identify and remove all barriers to promote equal opportunities for success by all students.”

In January, NEA conducts a session on implementing concepts learned directly to the classroom. Actions plans are developed. As superintendent, I see the concepts addressed in the day-to-day practice of administrators. Social justice concepts and diversity training give us a common language that allows us to self-reflect and improves our practice and lead others. Principals see this with their teaching staff. Our policies reflect protection from sexual, racial and disability harassment as well as bullying. These policies include students, staff, and parents. Policies are systematically reviewed at each Board meeting to ensure adherence and revision when necessary. 

The curriculum addresses social-emotional and cultural competencies. We have a specific local policy (Policy IKDD) that states “In order that the students may gain full benefit from our rich cultural heritage, it is the policy of School District 409 that the contribution to that heritage of minority groups be included in the curriculum at all levels.”

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.