By Ashlyn Kelly
FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham School Committee’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Subcommittee met for the first time in 2022 with its new members and chair last month, and discussed anti-racist practice, professional development, and communication as goals.
Newly-elected District 3 School Committee Member Jennifer Moshe is chair.
Other members of the subcommittee are District 4 member Adam Freudberg, District 5 member Priscila Sousa, and District 9 member William LaBarge.
Framingham Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Diversity, and Community Engagement Tiffany Lillie also attended the subcommittee meeting.
Moshe said Superintendent Robert Tremblay, Lillie, and the School Committee’s Executive Assistant Joanna Hastry joined her in reviewing the previous goals.
The first goal the subcommittee discussed was how the subcommittee could support and promote anti-racist practices.
According to Moshe, Tremblay recommended extending the goal’s timeline from “Fall-Winter 2020-21″ to 2028 because “this is something that is a work in progress.”
Freudberg said he was “curious” about why 2028 was chosen because “our scope is really just set for the next term.”
Sousa, who chaired the subcommittee in 2020 & 2021 said while she understood it was a “little unorthodox” for the subcommittee to be “setting goals for what will ultimately be future iterations of the School Committee,” she supports the longer timeline.
Another goal the subcommittee discussed was School Committee members receiving professional development on equity training.
Sousa said some concerns were raised during the last iteration of the subcommittee that “they didn’t want to train us just so that the School Committee could say they checked the box.”
She added it was recommended the School Committee “find facilitators who were going to challenge us and challenge our implicit biases.”
Moshe said one thing they would like to investigate is combining training with the teachers to get “that same training.”
Sousa suggested the School Committee have their own training time because the conversations can be “hard” and “because of the nature of our roles, we have a naturally adversarial relationship with different departments. … There’s a tremendous amount of respect everywhere, but sometimes we just we’d have a different role.”
According to Moshe, they would have to “look to see how much it would actually cost.”
The last goal the subcommittee discussed was the need to find alternative “more inclusive” ways to communicate with the community.
The subcommittee would like to talk with Rochelle Santos, Media & Communications Manager for the district, said Moshe.
“The translation is great for meetings, but I don’t think we’re using that consistently,” said Moshe.
Sousa said she has worked with a few families at Harmony Grove Elementary School who have used WhatsApp to reach families.
“I know I’m terrible at using WhatsApp, but some families, that’s their lifeline,” she added. “Just meeting parents where they’re at tech-wise” is important.
Lillie said the district has been piloting WhatsApp with a few departments but the goal is to have families on the Remind platform because “that platform has built in translations, especially for our staff members that might not speak the same language as a family.”
Freudberg suggested adding a goal to track the progress of “past equity and Title IX athletic audits that have happened.”
Moshe agreed that it “should probably fall under”the DEI subcommittee.
The subcommittee also removed the goal of providing high-speed internet access.
Moshe said, “That was during the pandemic time where we were going remote and we wanted to make sure that everybody had access.”
Freudberg said he was “OK” with removing the goal but wanted to add “the district is continuously applying for grants to still strengthen home internet access for students, even if there’s of course no more remote education.
“One of the reasons was not just for the pandemic, but for just the general inequity of who has good broadband and who doesn’t in our community,”said the District 4 School Committee member.
The subcommittee unanimously voted to table the approval vote of the goals until the next meeting.
Moshe said, “I believe I have the skills to effectively lead the group through the work it needs to do to accomplish our goals and give everyone a voice.
“The important thing is to make sure all other members, especially the public, feel heard and listened to, which I am passionate about helping accomplish,” she added.
Moshe said she sees Framingham as a “melting pot,” and “as a district, we need to find a way to support many different diverse families.”
Moshe said she would like to accomplish letting families know “they are not alone, that their children, regardless of where they come from, are seen as people, not a statistic, and are getting a quality public education.”
Ashlyn Kelly is a Spring 2022 SOURCE intern. She is a is a senior communication arts major with minors in political science and journalism at Framingham State University. When she is not writing an article, you can usually find her in a theatre. She will graduate this month.