AUSTIN, Texas — Tuesday night, families from Brooke Elementary organized their own meeting to discuss the importance of equity.
Organizers invited a number of Austin ISD administrators, including Equity Officer Dr. Stephanie Hawley. Alongside Hawley, Board of Trustees members Arati Singh and Krisitin Ashy and Associate Superintendent of Academics and Social-Emotional Learning Lisa Goodnow answered a handful of questions.
Parents there felt their voices were heard more than in other meetings AISD hosted.
“It was an actual discussion rather than AISD speaking at us," said Diana Perez, a mom of three Brooke alumni. "We got to speak to them.”
The meeting lasted a little more than 90 minutes. Perez helped set the meeting up and asked the AISD administrators and trustees that attended a few questions.
“Why isn’t our school presented to other parents at overcrowded schools?" Perez asked. "Those schools that are overcrowded and there’s no space for the kids there. If you presented to the parents what we have to offer, they very well might want to bring their kids to our campus.”
The meeting itself focused on equity but some parents still asked what that means exactly, who benefits and how the district achieves it.
Hawley addressed the concern around equity saying it's still a work in progress to make systemic change.
“What we’re trying to do is trying to make sure the district develops an equity lens because you can’t get to equity unless your leadership is deeply trained," Hawley said. "There’s not been enough time for our leadership to be deeply trained.”
To start the meeting, Hawley admitted the Guiding Principles that were in place when she started as equity officer were not created with equity in mind. That led to starting school changes without equity being the central focus.
“Nowhere in the world are closures and consolidations equity strategies," Hawley said. "But there’s a way to do closures and consolidations with an equity lens.”
“The intent for the schools changes process was to provide the best opportunity for an academic experience," said Kristin Ashy, another trustee at the meeting.
Hawley concluded the meeting by saying the discussions need to continue between AISD and parents in order for everyone to make the most educated decision possible.
“A long time ago, 1928, somebody decided to separate this city. And we’re all living with the legacy of it," Hawley said.
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