Grayslake Dist. 46 hopes diversity policy boosts achievement
Grayslake Elementary District 46 is creating a diversity policy that officials say could help boost student achievement.
Among the goals and objectives of the proposed policy, as outlined by a committee, 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.
Multicultural themes and perspectives would be embedded in all content areas as a way to benefit all students.
District 46 board member David Northern helped spark the idea of creating a diversity policy, saying he saw an opportunity for the district to be proactive in the wake of debates over transgender students and other diversity-related issues in the suburbs and nationally.
The district's diversity committee also examined student achievement gaps linked to race and ethnicity, children with English as a second language, and income.
"One of our district's goals is to be one of the top 10 performing districts in the county," Northern said. "With that goal, we have to address many areas, but one is achievement gaps, which are more prevalent within students that are in the categories of low-income, (limited English proficiency), racial and ethnic groups, and students with disabilities."
Superintendent Ellen Correll said the policy would help student achievement by ensuring they are prepared to be part of a multicultural society.
About 29 percent of the district's 3,967 students are considered low-income, according to the most recent Illinois State Board of Education report card. The demographic breakdown shows 58 percent are white, followed by 26 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian and 3 percent black.
Roughly 17 percent of students are disabled. Another 13 percent are English learners.
Diversity is defined as part of District 46's proposed 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.
Making an effort to embrace diversity would enhance students' civic and democratic values, boost learning, allow for deeper thinking and provide children with opportunities to have positive interactions with other races and ethnicities, according to the proposed policy.
Part of the proposal states District 46 would seek to recruit and retain employees who reflect a culturally rich and diverse perspective.