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News Editor Mya Collins reflects on the work we have done as a school community, and considers the direction in which we need to go
March 6, 2023
Through examining RV’s status regarding diversity initiatives and how the district has responded to the recommendations from the DVCEE, it is evident that the administration is prioritizing the progression of those initiatives to improve the culture and environment for students and staff.
The RV district has made headway with diversity initiatives, which are uncommon in neighboring districts. Following the Excellence Through Equity Quality Program Review, the administration has improved upon various areas of concern highlighted by the DVCEE in the report including adding more diverse courses into the curriculum and fostering an inclusive environment.
As the Co-President of the Black Student Union, I value the support from administration because our club is uplifted by the RV community as a whole. We are able to continue our service projects while also stressing the importance of Black excellence and joy in the community, and other districts may not have that same experience or positive relationship with their administration.
I value the support from administration because our club is uplifted by the RV community as a whole. We are able to continue our service projects while also stressing the importance of Black excellence and joy in the community, and other districts may not have that same experience or positive relationship with their administration.
RV continues to foster an inclusive environment where clubs, not solely limited to the Black Student Union, but others such as Circle of Women, Students Helping India and Gay-Straight Alliance, are able to flourish in the community with the support of the administration.
We found few students who talked about RV’s inadequacies in terms of making an inclusive and safe environment for all. On the contrary, most students pointed to specific policies, activities and events which fostered a sense of inclusivity and normalized diversity at school. This is a stark contrast to a number of schools surrounding us who are currently facing different challenges with creating and maintaining equity. Part of the impetus for exploring this topic was a piece completed in January 2022 by Cherry Hill East’s Eastside, which highlighted a number of instances of discrimination among students at Cherry Hill East. We were thankful to have not found evidence of this mindset here at RV.
This is not to say, in any means, that RV is perfect and absent of racism, sexism, homophobia or prejudice. There are always murmurs of issues among students. As the administration continues to improve the culture and environment of RV with its diversity initiatives, there are still aspects in the DVCEE’s review that need to be addressed and improved upon, which included diversity at the staff level and student tracking.
The term “tracking” in the education system refers to the grouping of students in accordance with their perceived achievement levels. As RV continues to develop the different levels from CP and AP to better cater to all students, there are some negative aspects associated with drawing out students from lower-level classes which can impact the learning environment of other students who are at that base level.
As a Black and female student in Honors and AP courses at RV, I have rarely walked into a class full of students who look just like me. More often than not, I continue to be a minority in my advanced classes. It is easy to disregard the importance of being in a class with other students of color, but that sense of community is essential for growth as not only a student, but a person as well.
Tracking in education can lead to discrepancies in the distribution of gender and race demographics in different levels, and RV continues to refer to the DVCEE’s recommendations regarding these courses.
The assumption that we don’t need to talk about race like it’s a bad word is just as damaging as the very attitudes we seek to change.
In the interview process, there was a shared experience among our journalists who faced hesitation from interviewees to discuss topics such as race and gender demographics in the classroom — especially from teachers. As the RV community reflects on the improvements made regarding diversity initiatives and the headway that administration has made, it is important to have these difficult conversations and continue to evaluate the district. Having uncomfortable conversations is crucial in growth. It is a practice that started with the diversity audit in 2020 and is not yet complete; the assumption that we don’t need to talk about race like it’s a bad word is just as damaging as the very attitudes we seek to change. It is our hope that our faculty will meet students where they are in this progress, not shy away from a discussion simply because it makes them uncomfortable. Teachers are human too; they can be vulnerable and honest, just like students.
Although some topics may be perceived as sensitive, they are irrefutably important and need to be addressed in order to continue to improve the culture and environment of RV and lead by example for neighboring districts.