Question – What about diversity?

written on September 06, 2015

Like my previous post, when I started running for school board, I asked for questions to be submitted. Here is a question that was a fantastic! …And this is an example of a topic I feel like our district has not sufficiently addressed. 1

One of the biggest things that have always been an issue with our family, and has never to my knowledge been brought up as concern, is the lack of diversity in our district. I absolutely believe that is simply dictated by socioeconomics, housing and job opportunities. I have seen the diversity increase since we started in the district 11 years ago. It was a huge concern to us back then, especially with our oldest, kindergartener at the time, being one of a handful of the token students with a diverse back ground.

While we can not control the population in our district, we do have the ability to influence the overall environment in our schools to make it more “universal” while injecting the flavor of other cultures and ethnicities that I feel is lacking from our student experience.

I don’t feel like we are actively trying to influence their ideas and views so that they are more worldly. We are doing them a disservice when not preparing them for what they will encounter outside of the Midwest, let alone outside of the country.

And they continue, suggesting a handful of great ideas to increase the diversity-experiences for our students:

  • Considering the active recruitment of individuals with different ethnicities. (We do not have one single individual, staff or faculty, that is of a different race, ethnicity or comes from a different country)
  • Take advantage of some of the enrichment programs that are offered by ISU and the international community residing in Ames
  • [Have] an international club added to the choice of clubs that students have to choose from on “club day”
  • Partner with a classroom from another country and allowing our students to visit, via the use of technology, with students in Finland (for example)
  • Open forums with international visitors discussing a variety of topics can expose our students to experiences that are beyond the pages of a text book.

The submission continued on, writing that these ideas are obtainable, especially with Iowa State as our neighbor.

As a parent of students in the district, I share some of these same concerns. How can we continue to expose our children to different philosophies, cultures and ethnicities in our schools? How can we drive curiosity and learning opportunities by experiencing different people and backgrounds?

I am eager to ask these kinds of questions to the fellow board members and administration. How can we address some of these concerns in our district and community? How can we continue to teach our students about the globalized-world they live in? How do we prepare them to be proficient and tolerant of those who are different?

Maybe you have a follow up question or additional comments? You should definitely ask me!

  1. To be very clear, this is not a critique directed at the current school board or administration. This is something, we, as a Gilbert community (parents and district employees) are all responsible for. This is our school, our community and our district – lets make it the best it can be.