When students enter our elementary, middle, and high schools, they step into a system that has evolved in a crucible of community dynamics influenced by class, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and ability status. The legacy of this continues to influence the education of all of our students: whether they attend public, private, or charter schools: whichever school district they find themselves in, and whatever the identities they show up to class with.
NCCJ St. Louis has been active in making schools more inclusive since the 1930s, when teams of religious leaders (each including a Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister) visited ten high schools in the city of St. Louis to promote good will and cooperation among those of different religious faiths. In 2001, NCCJ adapted its Dismantling Racism Institute for the education sector. NCCJ worked closely with the Cooperating School Districts, The Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, and leaders in the local education equity movement to train superintendents, assistant superintendents, and senior administrators across the region. OneSchool, an evaluation report released in 2005, documented the impact that NCCJ's training had on school employees to overcome their biases and to create schools that were more inclusive of racial minority students.
Columbia Public Schools
NCCJ is currently partnering with Columbia Public Schools (CPS) as its leadership endeavors to make systemic changes that support minority student achievement and build more inclusive schools for all students. CPS created an Equity Team to look at the achievement gap within the district and to address issues of school climate. The initial 8 members participated in NCCJ's FaciliTrainer Certification Program, and returned to the district prepared to provide education to others.
Their first year as certified (SY 2012-13), the CPS Equity Team trained more than 250 school employees across the district. Since then, they have certified more than 30 FaciliTrainers, and have deployed an internal consult model to support each school in setting and meeting goals related to inclusion and equity.
Additionally, each year since 2013, CPS has sponsored a cohort of 8-10 student leaders to NCCJ's Anytown Youth Leadership Institute, building a cadre of student leaders who are able to influence the climate among their peers. NCCJ facilitated an Equity Team retreat, to bring these youth and adult leaders together to jointly plan for action around diversity and inclusion in the district. For more information on their process, see the video to the right.