Author: Circe Stumbo

Twenty years ago today … West Wind was founded!

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Today marks West Wind Education Policy’s 20-year anniversary! 

Over the years, West Wind has been honored to work with and for amazing educators, researchers, policy makers, students, and families working to imagine and enact education systems that overcome historic and persistent inequities and engage each and every child in learning. Through partnerships with state education agencies, districts, schools, federal centers, researchers, technical assistance providers, and education leaders at every level of the system, our team has been working at the leading edge of education policy and practice. 

While we have always centered equity in our work, our portfolio of issues, projects, and partners has morphed over the years. In the past five years, we have intentionally prioritized projects that promote and support racial equity. While we continue to work with state and national partners, we have grown our programs to include work with local education leaders, teachers, and students.  

Today, we are customizing and facilitating racial equity professional development sessions in Iowa, Utah, New York, and Ohio; supporting research projects across the Pacific Northwest; facilitating an ongoing research agenda on the recruitment and retention of staff of color; presenting on diversity, equity, and inclusion to diverse audiences across the Midwest; engaging in equity policy reviews and audits; and providing equity coaching services through the Harvard RIDES program. In addition, we are in the beta year of our new Educational Equity Resources Portal, where we curate and share resources to help others grow their Systemic Equity Leadership℠. 

This past year has challenged us in many ways and we are grateful to our team and our partners who have been by our side. As our team  celebrates together, we also want to say thank you to all of our former employees, interns, practicum students, partners, colleagues, mentors, and friends for working alongside us and supporting us. We have learned from each project, each team member, and each experience. 

We invite you to keep an eye on our blog throughout the year, where we will be highlighting key projects and important work over our first 20 years and look forward to what we hope to accomplish in the next 20! 

Thank you all for your support and community.  As our dear friend, Jim Kohlmoos always says, “Onward!”

Understanding the School-to-Prison Nexus

Understanding the School-to-Prison Nexus

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At West Wind, we are examining a relatively new concept: the “school to prison nexus.”

Mass incarceration has been widely researched, with well-known analysts (Alexander, 2010) and documentarians (Duvernay, 2016) identifying ways that both formal and informal structures have contributed to an explosion of prisons and prisoners in the US.  The Sentencing Project finds that, “[t]here are 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Changes in law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase.”  The Sentencing Project further finds that communities of color have borne the brunt of this explosion. “Today, people of color make up 37% of the U.S. population but 67% of the prison population. Overall, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men.” Continue reading “Understanding the School-to-Prison Nexus”

We’re Back!

We’re Back!

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Welcome BackWe took a hiatus from blogging as we re-doubled our efforts to build our racial equity programming and our work on personalized learning and equity. As the 2018-19 school year is about to commence, we are excited to be back on our blog!

Watch this blog for new posts and follow the Creative Corridor Center for Equity’s Facebook page for important articles and happenings around eastern Iowa.

Black History Month Events in Iowa City

Black History Month Events in Iowa City

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Black History MonthI recently heard yet another story of black youth who feel left out of their school community year round, but who feel it especially strongly during Black History Month, which has gone mostly unrecognized at their school.  I hope that voices of these youth will spark a review of curricular offerings, celebrations, and school culture in their buildings–because I believe ALL youth will benefit from a more inclusive school curriculum and community. Continue reading “Black History Month Events in Iowa City”

A MLK Day to Remember

A MLK Day to Remember

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I hope you had a meaningful MLK Day yesterday!  We are proud that our very own Alecia Brooks was honored yesterday at the 1st Annual Stride Toward Progress Bell Ringing and Awards Ceremony here in Iowa City.  Royceann Porter, 2014-15 African American Achievement Award Recipient, took it upon herself to publicly acknowledge the hard work and spirit of service among black leaders in Iowa City.  She identified over 150 community members to honor!  We prepared certificates of acknowledgement and gratitude and Royceann worked with a local vendor to get T-shirts for all of the award recipients.  It was inspiring to meet so many committed Iowa Citians! Continue reading “A MLK Day to Remember”

Marking the One Year Anniversary of Our Local Equity Report

Marking the One Year Anniversary of Our Local Equity Report

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One year ago today, the Coalition for Racial Justice released the report, Racial Equity in Iowa City and Johnson County.  This report was a major impetus for the partnership we have developed with Diversity Focus, so that we might address some of the challenges described within.

Our very own Alecia Brooks wrote an op-ed to mark the occasion, which was published in our local newspaper today, All residents deserve an equitable chance to thrive.

I hope you will join us as we embark on the exciting work ahead to ensure our community is inclusive and responsive to all!

Honoring MLK in Iowa City and Beyond

Honoring MLK in Iowa City and Beyond

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The Iowa City Community Schools (ICCSD) decided to hold school on the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday this year.  The Coalition for Racial Justice strongly opposed this decision and asked the school board to honor the MLK Holiday and cancel school on Monday, January 20.  The school board decided not to cancel school in 2014; instead, they passed a resolution that ICCSD should not hold school on the holiday in 2015 and beyond. The board also appointed liaisons to the Coalition for Racial Justice and the Center for Worker Justice to improve communication and community representation in future decisions.  Continue reading “Honoring MLK in Iowa City and Beyond”

Local Activism for Equity

Local Activism for Equity

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CRJ imageThere is an exciting movement under foot in Iowa City, as residents across our community–diverse by race, geography, culture, language, income, and wealth–join together to approach the Iowa City Community School Board tonight.  Earlier in the year, the Calendar Committee, appointed by the superintendent of schools, presented a school year calendar to the school board, which included holding school on the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday.  The idea was that the schools would engage in a “Day On” and take part in the national day of service.  However, the calendar committee, the school board, and the superintendent did not realize the sacredness of this holiday for many in our community and the many activities already planned to honor Dr. King and the thousands who worked–many who worked in grave danger–to right the injustices of racism.  Members of our local Coalition for Racial Justice, the Center for Worker Justice, and community residents are asking the school board to reconsider their decision to go with the calendar committee’s recommendation. Continue reading “Local Activism for Equity”

Compensatory Leadership

Compensatory Leadership

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I had the opportunity to take part in a webinar last week with CCSSO and the New Hampshire State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness (SCEE) team. The NH team lead presented a problem of practice for consultation. In the process, she was asking great questions about the roles of principals in her state, especially in relationship to teacher leaders. Continue reading “Compensatory Leadership”

“College- and Career-Readiness” Calls for High School Transformation

“College- and Career-Readiness” Calls for High School Transformation

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“College- and career-readiness” has become a “new” goal for education reformers nationally.  (I put “new” in quotation marks, because this is not a particularly new idea or debate, though certainly the term “college- and career-readiness” is new.)  The aspiration of many reformers is that each and every young person will graduate high school prepared to enter some kind of post-secondary learning environment, as well as to enter a career, which would provide graduates with all sorts of very real opportunities.  At West Wind, we are working with the National High School Center on several tools that will be available to state leaders working to make sense of the multitude of improvements needed to ensure college- and career-readiness for all students. Continue reading ““College- and Career-Readiness” Calls for High School Transformation”

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