On Wednesday, November 20th, a town hall style meeting took place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Jenkins Auditorium at Malden High School. The main topic of the discussion was about the cultural proficiency in Malden Public Schools. Dr. Darnisa Amante was the facilitator of the event.
This meeting talked about the accomplishments and some of the upcoming challenges that the committee will have. The primary focus discussed was to create a welcoming, inclusive and equitable educational environment for all students, staff and families for Malden Public Schools.
According to Superintendent John Oteri, “[Malden is] the most diverse school district in Massachusetts. Some reports have [them] as the seventh most diverse high school in all of America. [They] are diverse in almost all aspects of [their] student body. So why are [they] going the extra mile for this work? In short, because Malden deserves this.”
The meeting discussed that Malden students deserve more than just the acknowledgment that they attend a diverse school. They all know it, see it and feel it. The students also see the very few people who look like them as educators. A priority for the Malden district is to hire educators who reflect the population.
Oteri stated that “every student and family needs connectedness. Connectedness is a component of belonging. When one feels like one belongs, there is a sense of ownership. When we are all connected full-on, we identify common goals. They come out more organically. We strive for the same.”
Furthermore, the meeting covered the steps Malden can take to get to where they want to be as a community. The discussion then led to a slideshow for statistics of students’ test scores based on race. The slideshow showed how the students of color do not achieve at the same rate as the white students do with MCAS scores. During the meeting, the graph that was being shown pointed out the gap between students of color and the white students. The goal the committee wants is to close those gaps and to increase student outcomes, such as having students achieve at a higher rate, becoming more confident, and to go out into the world with a better chance of success.
The facilitator of this event, Dr. Darnisa Amante, said “Diversity, equity and inclusion. These are all terms that all relate to the word ‘love’. [She] can tell somebody ‘I love you’ and it feels amazing, whereas [she] can tell another person [she loves] them and they run for the door. That’s exactly what happens with terms like diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The main purpose of this meeting was to make sure that the committee creates a sense of belonging for all the students, families and staff. This process will take a great amount of time. It is a decade’s worth of work. Even if Malden still has a long way to go, the Malden Public Officials are very determined to see the plan fall into place.