Va. advisory council addresses public school racial disparity concerns

A look down a well lit hallway of school lockers towards an open entrance or exit door - 3D render(Getty Images/iStockphoto/allanswart)

The African-American Superintendent’s Advisory Council has made 26 recommendations that they believe will create better access for Black students in Virginia.

The group of educators, put together by Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane, has been tasked with addressing diversity concerns when it comes to education opportunities across Virginia.

When it comes to the student population within Virginia’s public school system, 22% of students are Black and about half of the student population is made up of students of color. But when looking at the teacher population, four out of every five teachers is white.

Black students also make up just 12% of advanced placement and dual enrollment classes but account for more than half of the state’s suspensions.

The advisory council is now working with state leaders and hopes to help create guidelines to address these concerns.

Some of the recommendations made by the committee include requiring schools to report data when it comes to gifted enrollment and teacher diversity and open enrollment for advanced placement courses.

It also recommends a change to school boundary lines to promote integration.

Another recommendation includes a more focused effort on recruiting minority teachers at a younger age and a more equitable distribution of experienced teachers among high and low income school districts.

The council would also like to see schools establish an equity advisory committee.

“These recommendations include developing measurable plans to close the persistence of achievement gaps, close opportunity gaps that disproportionately impact Black students and other students of color,” said Newport News Public Schools Chief of Staff Rashard Wright, who serves as the chair of the advisory council.

The Board of Education is now reviewing the recommendations and says the goal now is to advance racial equity.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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