There have been more than a few lessons learned since the pandemic shutdown. It is an impressive feat that from the panic and confusion of early 2020 to the start of a new school year this month, the singular focus of our educational system has remained on the delivery of imparting knowledge, honing skills and preparing students for future endeavors.
Even in the face of enormous challenges, our local school districts worked to creatively keep the educational continuum going. First through the challenges of remote learning then cautiously returning in person.
While the sudden, unexpected adjustment to at-home learning may have been less than perfect in those early days, there was a silver lining that developed for many parents of the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Sharing physical space with their children during stay-at-home orders, many parents were afforded the rare opportunity to have access into the classroom. A firsthand look; a front-row seat. And now in the wake of the pandemic, parents want to remain involved, have a voice, be heard, and stay in the know.
Bravo! This, in part, is what makes the Santa Clarita Valley great. Community involvement, parental inclusion, committed teachers, staff and administrators, along with resources dedicated to the success of all students.
And how the educational system achieves and defines success ebbs and flows. A former superintendent once said, “We can never have equality, but only strive for equity.” It was a profound statement then and still resonates today.
Although the term equity can be a flashpoint for controversy in public discussions, at its core it refers to fairness and justice. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, equality means providing the same to all; whereas equity recognizes that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances.
An example might be the Hart district music programs. Equality is that the district provides all schools with instruments for instruction and band performances. Equity recognizes that the quality of the instruments and programs throughout the district may not be the same.
With limited resources and competing interests, it becomes a delicate balance to ensure all students have the tools necessary to succeed. Parents and the community can help fill the gaps.
Parent involvement in the elementary school districts has always been a cornerstone advantage. From volunteering in the classroom to PTA fundraising drives to site-based decision-making councils, parents have always had a seat at the table.
Once in junior high, the camaraderie of the parent-teacher relationship changes, and by the time students enter high school it nearly disappears. Most parents accept this fate as the natural progression from child to adulthood as students mature. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Inclusion at every touchpoint in a student’s life matters. That is why it’s important to elect community representatives who have the singular focus that every child matters. And while success may be defined differently, there should be no distinction between who can achieve, accomplish, and thrive in our educational system. “Every student; opportunity ready,” as the Hart district’s strategic plan motto states.
Teresa Todd is a Santa Clarita resident, former school board member and adjunct professor, and the first public information officer of the William S. Hart Union High School District. She is the founder of Point of View Communications, a public relations, advertising and strategic communications agency.