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What Is This WCSD Supplemental Curriculum Task Force?


WHY A TASK FORCE?...A SOCIAL JUSTICE UPROAR


If you have been following any of the WCSD Board of Trustee meetings or watching local news, you are aware that the district proposed a “social justice” supplement curriculum for the K-5th graders. It sent our community into an uproar. Why such a strong reaction to something as noble sounding as social justice? The real question you should be asking is what is social justice?


Social Justice is just one of many names used to disguise the newest dogma sending shockwaves through the nation’s public schools. It is the idea that white people are oppressors and black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) are the oppressed. It seeks to divide us solely by the color of our skin and drives a stake through the heart of unity. Critical Race Theory is another label you may have heard to describe this same doctrine. WCSD was looking to offer this social justice curriculum as a supplement to teachers who wanted to use it with their K-5th grade English, Language, Arts (ELA) curriculum.


Once word got out about this proposed curriculum, the community came out in force to oppose it and the WCSD Board of Trustees voted to reject this particular K-5 supplemental social justice curriculum (it was authored by Benchmark Advance). It was decided that further investigation was needed and a special Task Force would be put together to help craft/approve a social justice supplemental curriculum that can be used during the daily 1.5 hour ELA portion of the day. The question of why WCSD even needs to pursue a social justice supplement for ELA is glaring. The Nevada Academic Content Standards already requires teachers to teach multi-cultural/social justice topics in social studies. These topics and requirements are already being met. However, Superintendent McNeill wants to pursue this further and has asked for this Task Force to report directly to her.


WHAT IS THE TASK FORCE?... YOUR QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


There is a lot of mystery shrouding this Task Force. So many questions and so little information. Battle Born Moms for Education reached out to Superintendent McNeill and every Board of Trustee to get answers. Based on the responses we received, it is clear this Task Force is going to be asked to do more than the public understands. It is more than just social justice. Here is a compilation of those answers:


QUESTION #1: What exactly will the Task Force be deciding? Is this only going to focus on social justice curriculums throughout math, science, social studies…etc. Or is the supplemental curriculum task force going to be deciding ALL supplemental curriculums, i.e. geography supplements, computer class supplements…etc.


ANSWER: The Task Force is deciding on if, and what should be considered for supplementary curriculum for our students. It’s first task will be considering supplementary curriculum in ELA only for grades K through 5 on the topic of social justice. And while the Task Force originated due to this first assignment, it may stay in place going forward as a team who weighs in on supplementary curriculum in other areas. And not just with social justice. It could be any curriculum and any grade level. Consider this first topic a pilot program for the group.


QUESTION #2: What will the length of service be for each seat within the taskforce?


ANSWER: The Task Force will actually take responsibility for their length of service. At their first meeting, it is anticipated they will establish their meeting dates and times as well as discussing the goals and timeline for their work. We assume the work of the Task Force will likely occur at least over the course of this school year, but again, the Task Force will need to consider this.


QUESTION #3: Will the Task Force have full veto power over the curriculum?


ANSWER: All committees and task forces are advisory to the Board of Trustees and Superintendent. This means they do the work of navigating the topics, perspectives, opinions, and impact of their specified area, but they do not make final determinations. They do, however, bring recommendations to the Superintendent and/or the Board of Trustees based on their hard work.


QUESTION #4: Will the Task Force have power to assess and purchase other off-the-shelf curriculums that are better suited for our community?


ANSWER: The Task Force will ultimately make recommendations to the Superintendent about the supplementary materials they believe will benefit our teachers and students. Actual adoption of the curriculum we use in our classrooms follows a detailed process governed by state law. The final recommendations then will be taken back to our Board of Trustees.


QUESTION #5: Will this Task Force be run like the SHARE Advisory committee? With all meetings being public with public comment times offered?


ANSWER: The Task Force is not considered a committee of the School Board and will not be subject to open meeting laws. Task Force meetings will not be open to the public however, meeting agendas and notes will be posted to the District’s website.


QUESTION #6: Who will proctor and lead this Task Force? And how do we ensure they don’t come to the table with conflicts of interest or bias?


ANSWER: No one proctors the Task Force in the sense of what a proctor is. Even the Superintendent herself will not attend their meetings except for the first one, and that is only long enough to open the first session and go over some information. The group will manage themselves as all Task Forces and Committees do. It will be made up of a large group of people representing different aspects of our community. Every person will be considered through a blind review by a separate group of people that also represent a wide variety of our community and the District. The Superintendent is not a part of that process. Care will be given through the recruitment to ensure that all members come to the process with an open mind and commitment to a productive outcome. The point of the Task Force is to actively explore options and decide as a group, not to come in with a predetermined goal in mind. At their first meeting, they will choose their own leaders from among their membership, like all other committees and task forces.


QUESTION #7: What will the selection process entail? An application and interview? Who is on the interview committee? How do we ensure fair selection for the Task Force?


ANSWER: The Task Force will be made up of 18 members including 5 Elementary School parents/guardians (one from each regular Trustee district), 4 community members, 2 elementary teachers, 1 middle school teacher, 1 high school teacher, 1 Elementary School principal, 2 students, 1 Curriculum & Instruction Department representative, and 1 Equity & Diversity Department representative. The application process will determine who the parent/guardian and community member representatives will be and there is no interview required as part of this process. The application for the parent/guardian positions does require that applicants have a child(ren) attending a WCSD elementary school and the community member application states the applicant shouldn’t have children in the District. Other Task Force members will be identified in collaboration with our associations and District departments including our Student Voice department.


QUESTION #8: Lastly, once the Task Force is selected – how will WCSD audit the committee and ensure it is fair, unbiased and serves its ultimate purpose?


ANSWER: There will be regular updates to the Board of Trustees that will provide information regarding the work of the Task Force in order to ensure it is fulfilling the intent of the Task Force to provide recommendations to the Superintendent for supplementary materials. It is anticipated the Task Force will also establish meeting norms to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, and that meetings are respectful and professional in nature.


HOW CAN I APPLY FOR THE TASK FORCE


You must apply by August 27, 2021 at 5pm. It is so important that there are reasonable parents as part of this Task Force. We would encourage everyone to apply for this position. Hurry! You don't have much time.


Here is the WCSD link to apply to the Superintendent’s Task Force:

https://www.washoeschools.net/Page/16987