Grayslake Elementary District 46 has approved a diversity policy designed to boost student achievement while creating a more understanding education environment.
Among the goals and objectives of the policy are training employees to work with culturally diverse students and ensuring multicultural education moves from a tolerance approach to one of acceptance, respect and affirmation.
District 46 board member David Northern was one of the architects of the diversity policy, which gained formal approval last week. He said the policy is an acknowledgment of a more culturally and ethnically diverse United States.
"It's important that our students and staff develop an understanding of the perspectives of people from different backgrounds and learn to function (and) teach in a multicultural, multiethnic environment," Northern said Monday.
Although there currently are no concrete plans stemming from the policy, District 46 is soliciting members for a diversity committee to provide suggestions to school officials. The district wants the volunteer panel to have at least one school board member, three residents, seven employees and two middle school students.
Diversity is defined as part of District 46's new policy. It's considered a fluid concept that includes gender, race, socioeconomic background, linguistic differences, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, variations of talents and abilities, and special needs.
Several diversity-related education goals are listed in the policy, including raising student awareness, preparing children to be competitive in a global economy and enhancing pupils' understanding of their civic duties.
District 46 plans to recruit and retain employees who reflect a culturally rich and diverse perspective. The policy calls for employees to be trained with the objectives of increasing knowledge, skills and sensitivity in diversity.
Northern said the diversity policy allows the district to pull in one direction on the issue.
"Many of our teachers within our district have done a great job focusing on diversity within their curriculum," he said. "However, it's important that the complete district and all our staff focus on diversity as a goal."