Humble ISD plans curriculum and mission statement changes to increase diversity

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Humble ISD is working to update its mission statement, increase diversity among teachers, and has implemented a more culturally responsible literature program over the past two years.

Conversations about race and diversity resumed across the country, including on Humble ISD, some six months ago after the death of George Floyd while in police custody sparked protests at the national scale.

At a June 9 board meeting — the first after Floyd’s funeral in Houston — school board vice president Martina Lemond Dixon called for a statement on diversity and inclusion at the school. district level. Dixon explained one of his own experiences with systemic racism from 22 years ago and called for solidarity in addressing the impact of racism. The students also asked for more diversity initiatives at subsequent meetings in July and August.

“I know a lot of people were going through a lot and processing emotions and things like that,” Lemond Dixon said. “I just felt like it was the right time to fundamentally affirm our commitment to Humble ISD by making sure everyone knows that we want to be sensitive to the needs (of) all of the students in our district.”

It will take about a year before a diversity and inclusion statement is on the Humble ISD website and becomes part of their system, which is included in the next mission and vision statement. The statement will be consistent with their work on Portrait of a Graduate, according to Lemond Dixon. The project is a comprehensive plan to ensure that Humble ISD students exhibit six key characteristics upon graduation – communicator, global citizen, critical thinker, creative innovator, leader and collaborator, and personally responsible.

She said the communications team and the district are working to get things done, but the council isn’t in charge of that work and there’s no particular timeline on the statement.

“No family is perfect,” Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen said at the June 9 board meeting, referring to Humble ISD. “That’s not to say we don’t have growth and a long way to go, but this is a family where there’s no room for hate, there’s no room for hate. injustice, there is no place for racism, there is no place for prejudice, and we are absolutely an educational institution where every teacher, leader, support staff, works very hard to to be a light.

Develop the pool of candidates

In 2016 and 2017, the district created a group of approximately 80 people, made up of students, parents, educators, business representatives and community members, named “The Dream Team” to define this What a Humble ISD Graduate Should Understand. They discussed what schools should focus on beyond expectations to support the modern student according to Mount. With the help of 2,271 online submissions, the Dream Team recommended six skills to be the Portrait of a Humble ISD Graduate, which include being a communicator, global citizen, critical thinker, creative innovator , a leader and collaborator, and be personally accountable.

“ISD’s humble teachers provide opportunities for students to develop these skills, which students will use throughout their lives,” Mount said in an email.


A diverse group of teachers could also have academic benefits for Humble ISD students. Studies show that students do better when exposed to a teacher of the same race.

Lemond Dixon said the district attends job fairs at historically black colleges and universities and on various campuses to attract quality applicants of all races.

She said finding nearby schools for job fairs could be another option, but she said her overall vision is to have the best candidates who are welcoming and unbiased.

“One thing in Humble ISD, I think we look at it a little differently. I think the most important thing is to attract a wide variety of candidates and hire the most qualified candidate for each position,” said Lemond Dixon. “And we are certainly already looking at various universities like Prairie View A&M, even the University of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas Southern University. We have a combined career fair at the University of Houston including these schools. We’ve widened the net, and I think that’s important, that work has already been done.

“Why should we care if the faculty reflects the demographics of the student body? A growing number of studies suggest that outcomes such as test scores, attendance, and suspension rates are affected by the demographic match between teachers and students,” according to the Brookings Institute.

Demographic change

In Humble ISD, 70.8% of teachers are white while 14.1% are black and 12.6% identify as Hispanic.

By comparison, Humble ISD graduates are 41 percent white, 22.4 percent black, and 30.8 percent Hispanic, according to the Texas Education Agency 2017-18 Texas Academic Performance Report. Asian students accounted for 3% of the total population and 2.9% of graduates.

The highest percentage of Asian students are college ready upon graduation at 78.8%, compared to 68% of white students, 58.3% of Pacific Islanders (0.5% district’s total student population), 56.6% Métis students (2.1% of the total). district student population), 52.9% of Native American students (0.4% of the total district student population), 49.3% of Hispanic students in addition to 35.8% of black students with an overall district score 55% for annual graduates.

According to the TEA, Hispanic and Black students are the only racial groups that dip below the district’s overall score for college readiness at graduation.

However, teachers are becoming more diverse, according to data from communications director Jamie Mount.

Newly hired teachers who are Asian have increased by 1% over the past three years, while black or African American teachers have increased by 10% and Hispanic or Latino teachers have increased by 2%. The only decrease is for new white teachers, who fell from 64% in 2016 to 51% in 2019, a drop of 13%. New Native American or Alaska Native teachers remained the same percentage of new teachers.

Diversify the literature

Humble ISD implemented a new literature program in elementary and middle schools in 2018 and in high schools in 2019. The last adoption of literature before that was in 2006.

They began the process of embracing new literature with research into current trends and best practices, then created a committee of teachers, instructional coaches, and principals from all levels on campus to collaborate using research to create a vision that included multiple perspectives and levels of expertise. , according to Netta Whitaker, coordinator of elementary English and language arts.

Secondary schools have individualized offerings according to Debbie Perez, director of contemporary education and professional learning. Perez served as the secondary ELA coordinator who oversaw adoption of the literature curriculum at the secondary level.

“So in doing so, what you really get as a result of this adoption is a more personalized, more up-to-date, more modern type of literary prose that is more relevant to our needs, knowing that the last time they had it fact, that was 10 to 12 years ago,” Perez said. “So this update on this new learning perspective is definitely an impact that we’re hoping to see.”

They aimed to have literature that was culturally appropriate and included characters with diverse perspectives and interests. Authenticity was also important; including the original language of authors from different cultures. They used these criteria for all education levels in Humble ISD, Whitaker said.

“When we first look at these texts, including the diverse literature in the classroom, it allows students to hold up a mirror and see themselves and be proud of where they come from. But it also allows other students to lean into cultures and heritages that aren’t their own, giving them empathy and a different perspective,” Whitaker said. “And I think that’s really important in the classroom – for students to learn empathy at school age so that it transfers into their adult life. Literature is one (thing) that we use as a vehicle to do so.

savannah.mehrtens@chron.com


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