Inclusiveness, diversity and equity update
Aug. 11, 2020
At the Bellefonte Area school board meeting in August, Interim Superintendent Tammie Burnaford updated the community and nine-member board about the district’s plan to address inclusiveness, diversity and equity at Bellefonte Area School District. This was the third update since it was first publicly addressed by Burnaford on June 30.
While the district is in the “research” and “gathering” phase of its plan, Burnaford said they’re looking into how Bellefonte is interrelated with the State College community, what curriculum additions and alterations need to be made in order to better educate and promote IDE-type topics in the classroom; and establish a committee in September to help oversee the initiative. Once the committee is formally created, the district can follow the tentative timeline for its IDE plan, which was unveiled at last month’s school board meeting. The district also aims to work with Central Intermediate Unit 10 to conduct an equity audit on its curriculum.
This school year, Bellefonte Area Middle School Vice Principal Mike Baughman and Human Resources Director Michelle Simpson are teaming up to lead the campaign and gathering resources regarding current issues.
The district is also welcoming Sam Richards as a guest speaker during its opening day event on Aug. 17, which all faculty and staff are required to participate in. Richards is a teaching professor of sociology at Penn State who plans to talk about inclusiveness, diversity and equity with district employees. According to the Penn State College of Liberal Arts website, Richards is “the instructor of the largest race, gender and cultural relations course in the United States.” With more than 760 students each semester and a 25-year legacy, the course was the subject of an Emmy Award-winning television broadcast called, “You can’t say that.” The course is streamed live every Tuesday and Thursday, here: Course
The district is also using a toolkit provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to establish its IDE plan. This was something obtained by former Superintendent Michelle Saylor last school year, in addition to other guidance from the state. Called a “champion” of global education by members of the school board, Saylor made it her mission to help bring a global perspective to Bellefonte Area School District. Burnaford said she’s using that as a foundation to continue in those efforts, which will also look at IDE-type topics in a broad perspective.
Part of that includes encouraging individuals from what Burnaford said are of "all walks of life," to sit on the committee to help bring a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of perspectives. When created, aspects such as a mission, vision, scope of work, belief statement and goals will be made.