Westport Public Schools announces imminent equity and inclusivity study

Mimi Casey '22, Opinions Editor

Westport Public Schools will conduct an equity and inclusivity study to identify the principal sources of inequity in the district, per an email sent to parents and staff on March 9 from Assistant Superintendent Anthony Buono. 

“Westport Public Schools is partnering with The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of School to conduct an analysis of the root causes of disproportionate student outcomes,” Buono wrote. “A Lead Learner team of teachers, parents, administrators, staff, and Board of Education members will collaboratively analyze and disaggregate academic and behavioral data and examine findings in relation to existing policies, practices and procedures.”

The Lead Learner team, made up of 35 teachers, staff members, administrators, parents and members of the Board of Education, will take a multifaceted-approach in examining contributors to inequity, evaluating academic structures such as athletics, extra-curriculars, curriculum and the student code of conduct.

I feel [the study] is long overdue in a school district like ours and hope that this becomes a point of reflection for everyone, beyond the study itself, on how they can champion equity.”

— Nikhil Arora '22

It is anticipated that the outcomes and findings of the study will be easily accessible to the public by late summer or early fall.

“The committee will be tasked with creating an action plan,”  Principal Stafford W. Thomas Jr said. “My guess is that we will have something in place for the beginning of the year but it will take a few years to reach the goals of this plan.  

Motivating the study is conviction in the continued shortcomings where equity and fairness in the school system are concerned. 

“For our students that have and continue to experience incidents of microaggressions or prejudice interactions related to their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual identity or educational classification,” Buono said “this mission is a moral imperative.” 

Many students look towards the study with tentative hope and see it as a point of inflection for justice in the school system.

“I look forward to the advancements in academic equity that the study could produce,” Nikhil Arora ’22 said. “I feel it is long overdue in a school district like ours and hope that this becomes a point of reflection for everyone, beyond the study itself, on how they can champion equity.”

Beyond the study, many feel it is important to work towards equity as individual community members and urge people to avoid complacency. 

“Pay attention to what is happening around you with your peers and say something when you see inequity. Read, watch, and listen to what is happening with current events. Interrogate the media you consume,” Rebecca Marsick, the advisor for TEAM Westport and Staples English Teacher, said. “Educate yourself about people who identify differently from the way you do. Recognize the areas of your life where you hold power and privilege and use them to be an ally.”