Program Update - June 2020
During the last accreditation review for Saint Francis, the E3 Visiting Committee recommended in the Educational Improvement Plan that Saint Francis High School “develop a program to expand the collective cultural competency for faculty, staff, program directors, administration and board in order to further expand the school’s cultural competency.” This recommendation was in line with the school’s own E.I.P. Goal #4 of providing an environment that is “physically, personally, spiritually and academically safe for all students.” Additional areas of improvement highlighted by the visiting committee include “devoting specific attention to the wellness and inclusivity of the Holy Cross Achievers students in the Saint Francis community” as well as increasing outreach to “under-represented Catholic populations of students.”
In response to this call to action, the Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion (SJEI) Framework for Equity at Saint Francis was developed to provide direction for the school’s efforts towards ensuring cultural proficiency, inclusion, and equitable access in fulfillment of the school’s commitment to social justice as a Catholic, Holy Cross school. The framework highlighted eight core focus areas for SJEI work: student engagement, anti-bias curriculum, student support services, cultural proficiency, community partnership, recruitment and retention, data and analytics, and school leadership. Utilizing a team-based leadership model, a group of 16 educators led SJEI efforts in its inaugural year (2019-2020) in a research-based, comprehensive methodology to make initial progress on eight overarching goals:
- Promote student life that embraces and leverages attributes of each individual’s culture to create a new, shared beloved community
- Implement a values-based curriculum that highlights awareness of bias to create leaders of impact
- Create supportive systems that promote positive school climate and fully inclusive school policies and practices
- Develop confidence in employees to recognize and effectively confront inequities
- Engage the greater school community in an exploration of privilege, systems of oppression, and inclusive practices
- Attract and retain students and employees committed to Catholic teachings of equity and inclusion
- Analyze macro- and micro-level data to objectively review policies and practices
- Ensure fulfillment of and adherence to the school’s vision and mission
“Social justice means loving people so much that I work to change structures that violate their dignity.”
-Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J.
Year One Updates
The SJEI team developed 3 actionable goals to be accomplished during the first year of implementation in each of the eight core areas. Following is list of some of the key goals accomplished.
SJEI Framework for Equity
Over the course of the year, the team developed a comprehensive, long-term plan to guide SJEI work at Saint Francis. All SJEI future goals and recommended changes to school policies, curriculum, communications, and hiring practices will be based on the principles articulated in the Framework for Equity document, which has been made available through the school’s internal website for employees.
Research abounds in the benefits of student affinity groups as a means of supporting a school’s efforts to create an inclusive learning environment. The school formally adopted the following seven student affinity groups: Asian Student Association (ASA), Black Student Union (BSU), Filipino-American Student Union (Fil-Am), Pride Student Union (Pride), Latinx Hispanic Student Union (LHSU), Muslim Student Association (MSA), and South Asian Student Association (SASA). The groups planned and hosted several events throughout the 2019-2020 school year, including educational events, guest speakers, and team-building activities. The administration has also approved an operating budget for each group to be put in place beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. There is a process for new groups to be formed under the SJEI umbrella.
Anti-Bias Skills Grid
An equity skills grid was created to measure students’ awareness of bias and to guide educators in their instruction. Departments met this year to immediately audit their core courses and assess how effectively an anti-bias curriculum is currently being implemented. Mandatory professional development is scheduled to continue this summer and throughout the school year. Each teacher will be changing curriculum in the 2020-2021 school year to reflect identified cultural proficiency standards.
Working with students, educators, and the Dean’s Office, a new dress code was developed with the following goals guiding the conversation: create an equitable dress code, ease the decision-making process for students, make the policy more clear for educators to enforce, and ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students/employees on campus. The new dress code was approved and communicated to employees, students, and families in Spring 2020.
The school committed a majority of in-service time to professional development in the area of cultural proficiency, supplemented by additional workshops throughout the year. The professional development followed an intentional sequence focused on identity, anti-bias curriculum, and anti-oppressive actions and policies. Additionally, faculty attended conferences including those offered by the Institute for Social-Emotional Learning and the People of Color Conference.
The Parent Advisory Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PAC-DEI) and SJEI worked closely together this year, including in the creation of the Saint Joseph’s Table event (postponed due to COVID-19), with the goal of making this an annual event.
School Climate Data Analysis
The school administered a comprehensive school climate survey to better understand the student experience at Saint Francis including the areas of engagement, health, safety, wellness, and access. The data was disaggregated by group and shared with educators to inform curricular, instruction, and policy changes. An analysis of the data was conducted and informed multiple commitments for the 2020-2021 school year.
Immediately audit and make changes to our curriculum in all subject areas and hold educators accountable for implementing an anti-bias curriculum that emphasizes student skill development of identified cultural proficiency competencies. In addition, we will start the process of implementing an ethnic studies graduation requirement for all incoming students and focus our elective offerings to courses rooted in social justice.
The student handbook for next year has been modified to emphasize restorative practices. The revised policies include positive behavioral intervention strategies, replacing previous policies that lacked clarity and were received as more punitive in nature. We commit to implementing these policies fully and continuing to assess our discipline process.
Hiring and Business Practices
Enact hiring practices that will ultimately lead to the school’s educators reflecting the demographics of the Diocese of San Jose. We will reflect on how and where we recruit educators and write new guidelines for our hiring, procurement, and contracting policies.