Our Commitment to Equity
Salt Lake City School District is a diverse district with students and families who have unique life experiences. We value the many perspectives, languages, and backgrounds that enrich our classrooms and schools.
Within our district, attending to equity is foundational to our strategic priorities and our district’s equity framework. Our policies focus on eliminating prejudice based on racism, bigotry, and bias based on cultural, economic status, gender identification, disability, and age. We are aware of the impact these biases have had on education in the past, and we are determined to address them in our current practice.
Salt Lake City School District embeds equity work in our schools. We are committed to providing students with an education that reflects the voices and contributions of many different perspectives, including Indigenous people, Black people, people of color, immigrant groups, non-traditional families, and people with varying religious and belief systems. Our teachers and administrators look at data organized by race and other demographic indicators to help us take meaningful actions and measure progress toward student achievement. We ask staff members to participate in professional development about race and examine our practices and policies to produce equitable outcomes for students.
We promote culturally responsive teaching by connecting students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences with what is taught in our classrooms. We support students maintaining their heritage languages, and proudly honor graduates with the “Utah Seal of Biliteracy” for their multilingual abilities. The Utah English Language Arts Core Standards outline learning goals that allow students to experience works from “diverse cultures and different time periods” [to gain] cultural knowledge. The Utah Core Standards for Social Studies focus on historical and current events and state “students should have opportunities to consider and discuss the relative significance of diverse events.” The Utah Science Core Standards foster “Scientific habits of mind include questioning, communicating, reasoning, analyzing, collaborating, and thinking critically,” supported by culturally relevant phenomena that engage all students in science practices. We appreciate that our students can navigate multiple ways of knowing and honor their varied and personal ways of sense-making. We appreciate that our students can navigate multiple ways of knowing and honor their varied and personal ways of sense-making.
As a district, we review instructional materials and frameworks to ensure students have access to a representative and diverse curriculum. We support our teachers in stretching learning into authentic and honest conversations about difficult topics and events so that student conversations can happen in safe and respectful environments.
We recognize that race-related trauma plays a role in our student’s mental health, and we focus on social and emotional learning strategies and trauma-responsive practices to ensure students feel welcome and safe in our classrooms.
Talking about race and equity can be uncomfortable. However, education should prepare us with all the facts and information we need to form our own conclusions and perspectives. Our perception of our country’s history is not complete without an understanding of both the contributions of and oppression of peoples of differing faiths, races, gender orientations, disabilities, and languages. A great nation is not threatened by this history. On the contrary, it is our ongoing dialogue and progress toward justice and equality that makes us great.
Salt Lake City School District would like to thank Superintendent S. Lewandowski from District 287 and the Council of the Great City Schools for sharing their thoughts about these issues.