Field Trip: Equity, Part 1: One District, Two Communities

  

Note: This episode is a rebroadcast, and originally aired on July 20, 2018.

How does a district strive for equity when it serves two distinct, racially-diverse communities?

A few miles east of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights University Heights School District serves the primarily white community of Cleveland Heights, as well as the much larger and more diverse city of University Heights. We spoke with Dr. Talisa Dixon, who at that time was the Superintendent, about her time leading the district and working for equity:

  • The unique opportunities and challenges faced when two very different communities share one school district
  • Working with the school board to enact policies that will outlast any one person
  • Why equity matters
  • Creating change through persuasion, not force

Full Transcript  

Hi there, Field Trip listeners. Right now, it’s mid-January, 2020. And, the question of how to ensure that every student, regardless of background, receives a high quality education has never been more important. I think one of the ways we can work toward that is by sharing stories – how schools are working to serve all students, provide opportunity, and come alongside those who, for any number of reasons, may not have the same advantages as others.

So this month and next, we’re putting out a short series on equity in education, sharing stories from leaders who are intimately involved in this. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing new episodes that look at equity in special education, and we’ll take a detailed look at desegregation through the eyes of a teacher who was there.

Today, we’re revisiting a story we aired in the summer of 2018. Dr. Talisa Dixon is now the Superintendent of another school district in Ohio, but when we spoke to her, she was leading the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.

I hope you enjoy it.


TALISA DIXON: Having those tough conversations about race, class, our beliefs, and being able to say, “We may not agree on everything, but we do agree that we want the best educational experience for our kids.”

Today on Field Trip, the story of two communities, with one school district.

TALISA DIXON: It was clear that we were making decisions in isolation and not talking to all key stakeholders and seeing what was happening with the decisions that we were making, and how it was impacting our students and impacting the opportunities that we were preventing all students from having.

It’s a story about equity. And how one superintendent is working to make sure every student has the same access to a quality education.

TALISA DIXON: It’s a real equity issue. If you do not put your best teachers with the students who have the most need… I think people think, you have this outstanding teacher, and we’re going to put all the best kids in that teacher’s class. And I think we have to rethink that.

Welcome to the podcast for leaders in education. Every other week, we bring you another story of people who are coming up with ways to tackle 21st century challenges in education with creativity, technology, data, and innovation.

From Frontline Education, you’re listening to Field Trip.

Today, my guest is Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of Cleveland Heights University Heights School district, in Ohio. Dr. Dixon, it’s good to have you here.

TALISA DIXON: Thank you. It’s good to be here. Thank you for the invitation.

That name, Cleveland Heights University Heights School District — often called “CHUH” — is an important clue to our conversation. These are two communities that share one district. Here are some numbers:

Cleveland Heights has a population of nearly 50,000, Dr. Dixon said, about half of whom are minorities, mostly African-American.

Students from University Heights also attend school at the district. Around 14,000 people live there. It’s wealthier, and over 70% white.

TALISA DIXON: And we only have about 700, about 800 students that attend our school district from University Heights, of a district that is 5200 students, so the majority of our students live in Cleveland Heights, that attend our school district.

Dr. Dixon said the school district is about 80% minority, 20% non-minority. And I asked her why that is.

TALISA DIXON: One, we are fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of great schools, private schools, parochial schools, so there is a lot of choice in this area. Perhaps a lot of families choose those schools because private, that was their experience, if they had a private school experience, or a parochial school experience.

That’s okay. I believe that’s okay. I just want to make sure that people understand that we are a good public choice option for their student. So again, a lot of students attend those other schools, because of their family’s choice.

What effect does having an 80% minority, 20% non-minority breakdown? What effect does that have on your district as a whole?

TALISA DIXON: Great question. Well, one thing, a positive effect, is the non-minority students get to learn from the minority students. I think that could be a positive, in that we make sure that all kids are involved in various different activities, and learning from each other, so I think that’s good.

Also in the community, too — because again, the community does not reflect the school district. So again, we have 80% of minority students in the school district, in a city that is about 50% non-minority.

We are going to be talking about the issue of equity today, and I wanted to ask, why is this issue, Dr. Dixon, so important to you personally?

TALISA DIXON: Oh, wow. That’s a great question. When I first began my tenure here, I noticed immediately that there were two school districts that existed here, and one that serviced the high achieving, non-minority students, and one that serviced minority students, and it was obvious.

I would walk into the high school for example, and I would walk into the AP classes, and would see … maybe one, or two minority faces, and that was alarming to me.

Just to be clear, you mean two school districts in effect, but within one school district?

TALISA DIXON: Correct. So, it was a little joke in the district, from other non-district officials, that parents could ask to have a private school experience within this district. By that they mean, if parents chose us, they could do our gifted program, and our AP program — we have a phenomenal instrumental and vocal music program — and have access to that, and not pay what you would pay for a private school.

It was also alarming when I went to the elementary schools, and we had performance-based grouping. I kept saying, “Performance-based grouping? Explain to me what that is?”

“Oh, we just divide students in reading groups, and we put our advanced learners, our middle learners …”

And I said, “That seems like tracking.”

“Oh, no, no, no. That’s not tracking. It’s something we’ve been doing for quite a while.” Et cetera. So, to me, it was tracking, because you had elementary students that were grouped in their reading levels. But I always asked the question, “If you want students to learn what it means to be a good reader from their peers, because students learn from their peers, then how can it be demonstrated if they continue to stay in the same group?”

If my group one are the high readers, I want students in group three to be paired with the students in group one, and that was not happening. It was clear that we needed to do something from my perspective.

Then the second piece of that, when we started work on the strategic plan, it came out as part of the conversations during the interviews with various stakeholders, that we had a lot of inequities in the district, that the district created.

I knew I had to do something.

Prior to her arrival, CHUH had a number of superintendents over a short period of time, and I asked Dr. Dixon to talk about that. She didn’t know exactly why that was the case, but thought it could have something to do with the challenges that come with serving two diverse communities.

TALISA DIXON: Because you have two communities, and you’ve got to service the needs of both communities, and it can be very, very challenging. When I came, people internally [thought], “Okay, is she going to stay?” And the community was like, “Oh my gosh. Is the board going to do something to make sure that this person stays?”

That was critical, how long will the superintendent stay? It was challenging at times, because I would meet people, and they would say, “Oh my gosh, she seems pretty nice, so she won’t be here long.” Now we’re in year four.

You came into the district, you looked around, you saw that there was performance-based grouping at the elementary level. You saw a number of other things at the high school level. You set about putting a strategic plan into place. Can you talk a little bit more about why that strategic plan was needed.

TALISA DIXON: Oh, great question. Yes, I think sometimes people can come into an organization, a new leader will come in and just make changes, and I always believed that it is best to assess, and have conversations with people in any organization, before a change is implemented.

After my first hundred days in the district, I’m meeting with people, I’m going in classrooms, and really using the first hundred days to observe what was going on in the community, and what was happening in the district.

I talked to my board, and stated, “I really would like to start a strategic planning conversation.” The board really wasn’t sure. They were not sure if this was the right pathway, and I just said, “Trust me. Just trust me. Let’s start this conversation.”

Let me back up. They’ve had strategic plans before. I think the last one may have been in 2008, maybe 2005, so it had been quite a while. I stated that this would be good for us to assess what was happening, have some conversations with our stakeholders, and I think it would give people an opportunity to address the real issues.

They agreed. After some time, they agreed, and I secured a consultant. We started the journey. It’s about a 6 or 7 month journey, that included schools, stakeholders, parents, students. It’s about 40 or 50 people who were participants in this.

Superintendents already have a lot on their plates. And when Dr. Dixon began at the district, hers was especially full from day one. For one, they were in the middle of a master facilities plan, and were building a new high school the following year.

TALISA DIXON: I started in August, and in October. I received a letter from the state that says, “Oh, by the way, superintendent, you’re going to have four schools that are in EdChoice designation, and that meant they had not been achieving for four years consecutively, and the state was going to give parents the opportunity to access school vouchers. If you live near one of those schools, now you can take your, about $6000, and use that to be educated in another school district.

And she said, “Okay, we really need to begin this strategic plan and have the conversations that will help us address some of these challenges.”

TALISA DIXON: One was, no one was focusing on student outcomes. That was evident. There were no systems in place that kept people focused on student outcomes. We had silos. We had people [with] no connection between HR, the education services, the business departments. I think in part because there were so many different leaders. There was no alignment there.

We had great teachers, great kids, and great families, but no one knew what was happening. They knew that if my child was in the gifted program, “Here’s a pathway,” and they were going to be successful. Well, if my students were taking AP courses, “Oh, they have the best teachers, here’s a pathway.”

Then we had a career and technical education program that I believe was just used as a dumping ground. “Well, okay. The kids may not be successful, so we’ll put you over here.” 

It was clear, but we still had 26 sports program. We had synchronized swimming. We have ice hockey, we have lacrosse. There were so many wonderful things, a fantastic vocal and instrumental music program, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh. We have all of this, and no connection.” It was evident.

Talk to me a little bit more about the lack of equity that you saw in your district. Did some schools get more resources than others? Did teachers want to work in some places, and not others, and what effect did that have?

TALISA DIXON: Great question. One, families were sharing with me that if their students were not in the gifted programs, then they didn’t believe they were receiving a good education. I was digging a little more, and saying, “What do you mean by that?”

Well, we had the gifted students who were being identified as gifted in the 4th grade, and then they were pulled from their regular peers, to a self-contained program. They believed that those students in that program had the best teachers. I said, “Oh, okay.” 

Then other families were saying, “Well, African-American students didn’t have the opportunity to get in the gifted program, because of the criteria that was stated.” They believed it excluded African-American students, specifically African-American males.

Two, principals shared that certain schools received all the teachers who had some evaluation concerns. We were placing what they called “the bad teachers,” the low-performing teachers, in specific schools, and those principals felt that they could never get the academic results they needed, because they didn’t have the teachers who could really help move students.

Then we had resources, so some principals and families said, “Oh, the schools on this side of town do not get as many resources as schools in another part of town.”

We had all of those conversations, and I needed to dig deeper to see, “Was there some evidence in this?” In every case, I found that there was evidence, that it was clear that we were making decisions in isolation, and not talking to all key stakeholders, and seeing what was happening with the decisions that we were making, and how it was impacting our students, and impacting the opportunities that we were preventing all students from having.

I am really struck by what you said earlier, about siloed information and not having a connection between HR and instruction and business. Can you talk a little bit more about that, both in general, what effect that has on your people and on your students, and then, what effect that has on equity in your district?

TALISA DIXON: Well, one equity issue, and sometimes people don’t see it as an equity issue, but staff placement, it’s a real equity issue. If you do not put your best teachers with the students that have the most need, I think people think, “Well, you have this outstanding teacher, and we’re going to put all the best kids in that teacher’s class.” 

I think we have to rethink that. Instead, if we have kids with needs, with some academic challenges, who is the best person who can really help that student? It is that experienced, great teacher. It is that person. The district was not doing a good job of making sure teachers were appropriately placed in certain schools.

What that did, it produced the buildings where you had a lot of people working at the same level. If you had a building where you had a lot of low level teachers, or teachers that were performing at a lower level, based on their evaluations, they were like complainers. “Well, I don’t really want to be here. These kids are very challenging. They’re coming from various homes, and I can’t motivate them.” You had a lot of that conversation that was happening with their principals.

Then, you will have your business department, for example, and the principal or teachers would say, “Well, I need something repaired in my building, my classroom.” 

“Well, that’s not a priority right now at this school. Instead of putting a new ceiling fan in, we’ll just repair this old ceiling fan.”

Or we would go to another school, and it became more of a priority. “Well, I’m not going to fix this ceiling fan. Maybe a brand new air conditioning window unit would be better over here.”

Again, it’s a disconnect. “I’m not going to come and repair the heating in building one immediately. I’ll wait into next week.” Where another building, it was a priority. “Oh, okay. I’ll get someone over there today.”

Yeah.

TALISA DIXON: Then resources, when you’re talking about the educational resources, we have some schools that were – for example, international baccalaureate, so it was, “We are going to make these schools IB, and these other schools, we maybe can get there at some point, but it’s best if we focus on these schools, on this side of town first.”

Again, people making independent decisions, and no one connecting together, to see how these decisions were impacting within the organization. But people outside were looking, and watching, and from their perspective, we were clearly making decisions that were not good for all students.

And that brings us back to the strategic plan that the school board approved, and they began putting it into place.

We came with five strategic goals, and we changed the mission statement. That was important to the planning team, they wanted to make sure that our mission statement, one, talked about what all of our schools would provide, and two, that we would include career as an option for students. We made that front and center in our strategic plan, and our mission statement.

Our mission statement says, “Our schools provide a challenging and engaging education.” It’s “Our schools.” They wanted to make sure that that meant all of our schools, and then we wanted students to become responsible citizens, and succeed in college and career. So, the “and career” was something that we wanted to make front and center.

Then, we decided on five goals, and one of those goals was an educational approach, and equity, empowerment, and opportunities. They believed that we wanted every student, that we had to be front and center. Every student would have opportunities to this challenging and engaging education.

And that meant looking at things like funding and teacher placement, as well as the curriculum.

Does our curriculum reflect the students that we serve? The community may be 50% and 50%, but our school district is 80% minority, and what do our materials reflect? How do we help make sure that our kids see themselves in the curriculum? 

Then, how do we make sure that our teachers are being trained on how to teach students that look different from them? Many times, people think as they graduate from these colleges, and educational institutions, they say, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to be a teacher, and I’ve learned these tools. I’m going to the classroom, and I’m going to teach.” Great intentions, but then you reflect and say, “I have students with different backgrounds that may come to me, not all at the same level, same potential, but not come in the classroom at the same level.”

We have to be able to give our teachers some tools to teach those students differently than they may have learned in their college educational courses. We need to make sure that we focus on providing that professional development, so we started the journey.

Also, during our contract negotiations, we have in our district eight essential trainings that all of our teachers must take, that they must be involved in, so we negotiated through our contract language to have equity training as one of those essential eight trainings for all of our staff, throughout the district.

Dr. Dixon and her team saw this as a tremendous step — but it was only the first step. They began thinking about how to ensure lasting change.

TALISA DIXON: So I shared with the board that it’s not enough to have a strategic plan. I think that’s a great start, but I believe we need to have something that will outlive the plan, because your plan, you focus on the work with the plan, but the plan also evolves, and changes over time. It becomes a living document.

Policies are lasting, so it was important for us to say that you’ve had this revolving door of superintendents. Yes, I’m superintendent number five, and I would love to stay at the pleasure of the community and the board, but if things change, what can stay and outlast a superintendent, or even them as board members? That’s a policy.

We started to having a conversation about why equity policy was needed. I think that was almost as tough as going through the strategic planning work.

Why was it so tough to have those conversations with the board?

TALISA DIXON: Because those conversations were clearly about one set of data, and belief, whereas with the strategic plan, we were able to have various conversations around various topics. So, operational resources, your staff, your parents… but when you talk about equity, it’s a deeper conversation. It’s about people’s beliefs in their actions.

I always tell a quote. I can’t think of his name, but it was a quote he always said: “What you permit, you promote.” I say that to the community all the time. What we permit to happen in this district, we are promoting it if no one says anything. We had clear evidence that there was some sort of tracking that was happening, not intentionally, I don’t believe … I think it was just something that was happening.

We had evidence that we were not doing a good job placing teachers with students with the most need, et cetera. How do we put something in place that addresses that? There were conversations about some students coming from various backgrounds, and the data showed that our white students were outperforming our black students. Well, why is that?

Are white students smarter than black students? “Well, do you believe that white students are smarter than black students? Let’s talk about that.” “Well, the data shows that the white students are outperforming the black students.” Well, okay, we’re looking at the data, so do you think that data is expressed that way because one set of students are born smarter than another set of students? Those are real conversations that we had to have it: why is it?

We had to look at ourselves, and look at our beliefs, and have an understanding that students are coming to us from various backgrounds. Families have various … They’ve had different education experience themselves, but when they send their kids to the schools, they are sending their very best, and they are hoping that we are the ones that are going to fully educate their kids, and that is our job. 

Now, we do need help from our peers. We recognize that, but those were some of the conversations that we had with our board members, looking at the data, having those tough conversations about race, class, our beliefs, and being able to say we may not agree on everything, but we do agree that we want the best educational experience for our kids in this community. If that means that we have to have a policy that will allow us to have some check and balances, then that is the right thing to do.

I want to ask how you were personally perceived during this process. Can you talk about what it was like to walk through this as an African-American superintendent who came into this community and began this initiative? What about this situation made this easier, or harder for you?

TALISA DIXON: Great question. Well, that was tough. I felt that many people in the community were so glad that here was an African-American superintendent who is coming, who can make the tough decisions, who will address these issues that they saw. And they felt in their experience, [that we would] come out and just, hey, put the hammer down, and “We’re going to stop this.”

I believe in this community, there were some white families that were hoping that, too. But my approach to this work was different. It made me a little nervous. I can say that. It made me a little nervous, because I didn’t want to be the person who came into a community, and saw things just with my eyes, and made decisions based on only what I saw, and only what I experienced.

I wanted to make sure that I came, and I listened to various stakeholders, and looked at the data, and had conversations with people about what things needed to change and why, and how I could help lead them to that change, because that’s lasting. I believe that’s lasting change. Those changes will outlive Talisa.

Forced change would make people uncomfortable, and will push people away, and then as soon as a different leader comes, and that’s done. I had to do a lot of self-reflection on that, and not walk around with my head in the sand, and think that what’s happening was not happening. Not choosing to go in a corner, and not say clearly, “That it wasn’t right,” but I made sure that my approach was the right approach to be inclusive for everyone to have the dialogue about what was happening, and why change was needed.

You had to do a lot of persuading I’m guessing, as part of this process.

TALISA DIXON: Oh, yes.

How did you convince people that this was the direction to go?

TALISA DIXON: I would say that it didn’t take a lot of convincing, because we started with the strategic plan. I was very intentional about that. I said, [we need to] get other people to tell their stories, to say, “This is what I experienced, and this is what is happening.” Then we found evidence of it. Then my story is actually telling the stories of others, and then telling others that what people were saying was true, but that we had a plan to address it.

Yes, we did see evidence that performance-based grouping was happening in our district, but what did we do the next year? We dismantled it. We said, “No more. No more are we going to do this.”

It was tough. I had to have conversations with majority, white families in some sense — kids who were benefiting from those classes, and who they wanted their students to be in classrooms with minority students. However, they didn’t want to be in classrooms with disruptive minority students, and they believed that certain kids with certain backgrounds were disruptive in the classroom, and took away from the learning of their kids.

Okay. That was real, but that’s not the way to do it. We have to make sure that we have teachers, and we give our educators the tools to differentiate the learning, to make sure that students understand the expectations, because again, students who may be lower level learners can move so much faster with their high-level learner peers in a classroom, because they are learning together.

A lot of it was about our beliefs about learners, beliefs from parents, and from teachers.

I want to segue here — you talk about how you got buy-in from your community, you got buy-in from your board. You’ve talked a little bit about the training that your staff now needs to be involved in. How do you get your teachers, and your staff to not just take the training, but to actually engage with that material and put it into practice? How do you get buy-in internally with all this?

TALISA DIXON: That’s a great question, and we’re still working on it. Our equity task team reported out to the board last month about how well we’re doing, and how many people have been involved in this work so far, and the challenges of it.

One of the things that we want to make sure of is that it’s not a little class where you come, and you sit, and, “Oh, I gotta go to diversity training today, or equity training today. Okay, I sat, checked it off, and then I move on.” It’s making sure that our administrators, and our families, and our teachers, everyone — understands that we have a diverse population of students, who learn differently, but have the same potential, and they must be nurtured, and guided in a very different way than students that may come from various backgrounds, and various experience.

For example, let’s go back to the advanced placement courses. I’ve told you, I walked through the classrooms, and the majority of students were white students in those classes. I went to a minority student achievement network meeting in this consortium of school districts, that work together to close the achievement gaps. We’re in a meeting in Chicago, and I shared with them. I said, “I need some help with getting more African-American students to take AP.”

They introduced me to an organization called, Equal Opportunities in Schools, and I partnered with them on a framework of working with our high school teachers, and identifying students who had the potential of taking AP. They had conversations, and surveys with students, and we were able to increase the number of minority students taking AP.

We had a summer AP bootcamp. We had an AP pep rally, to get all the students to say, “Oh my gosh. You can do it. You’re PSAT scores show that you have the potential of taking these courses. Let’s get you in.” That was one piece.

A lot of students were really excited about taking AP. But then, in the first few weeks of school the next year, as they began taking the courses, they’d get the syllabus, and thwack — they’d see this huge list of requirements for the coming semester, all at once. A number of them were overwhelmed, and began dropping the courses.

TALISA DIXON: We had to go back and say to the teachers, “Let’s not set up a system where kids now are intimidated and afraid, because we have to set a system to build them up, and tell them that they have every right to be in those classes, and they have the potential to do just as well as their white peers.”

But now, we’ve given them their course syllabus, and all of their requirements that are very different from what they’ve had before, and we’ve intimidated them in a subtle way. We didn’t say, “You don’t belong,” but we have done something that said, “This is what you have to do to stay here.”

We’re still working, and having those conversations, and making sure that now, do we have the right teachers in front of the students who we’re trying to give more rigor to, and more access to? So it’s ongoing.

What changes are you seeing? How do you know that what you’re doing with your efforts to enhance equity in your district are successful?

TALISA DIXON: Well, one, we know that from our teachers, we’re getting a lot of feedback that they want more training. And that was “Aha.”

Wow.

TALISA DIXON: So, yes. Once the training one module was more about self-identity, reflection, and who we are, and what we bring to the classroom. Now, teachers are saying, “We know. We want to dig deeper, and learn more about some teaching strategies that will help us.” Because, that’s part of it.

“We have this rambunctious child, that can’t seem to sit down, and who’s very smart, but because he’s so disruptive, I’m at my wit’s end. What can I do?” There’s a lot of literature, and strategies of working with rambunctious African-American boys. Maybe it’s something as let’s change their seating, and get the bouncy balls, because they may be a little antsy. They’re asking for that, and that is wonderful, because they’re not feeling … not bad, but just not feeling awkward asking, and I think that’s good. I think that you’d know that some change is happening, because people are not feeling intimidated about asking for resources to help kids that look different from them.

How do you go back to the board and report on what you’re doing?

TALISA DIXON: We report every year, and that was part of our policy. We put a clause, and I think that board wanted that, that we would come twice a year, to report out on how well we’re doing, and about that equity framework.

And that was a piece that I was so proud of the board, because again, it wasn’t a policy that made sure that we were coming back, and revisiting, and asking questions, and looking at the data: financial data, student opportunities, access to programs, and how the training is going.

I’m sure that this was not a smooth, straight, level road, as you put this into practice. What were the biggest hurdles that you had to get over in getting this work up and running?

TALISA DIXON: When you’re working in a school district where you have two communities … I have two mayors, and two councils that I’m working closely with, and the mayor of University Heights did not agree that we had equity issues that needed to be front and center. Although it was clear, they may have many students attending, but they didn’t really want to join us in this work. Part of it is the political landscape. How do you bring up issues or concerns, that you know affect your community, when your community leaders may not want to be seen as supportive, or non-supportive, of that issue.

That was a hurdle, that having those conversations with the mayors, and the council members, and saying, “This is real.” But in their minds, it wasn’t real for them. I think that’s where you have to have your school board with you, to help lead those conversations, because those are their peers. The council members are their peers, while you as a leader, work one on one with hoping that your message resonate with the mayors, or the city managers.

That was one I didn’t anticipate. I think sometimes, when you think of equity, that everyone is going to immediately come on board, and say, “Oh yeah, we have these issues.” “Oh yeah, let’s address them.” But that’s not necessarily the case.

This summer, all three communities, and the mayors, and the council people are going to participate in a racial equity institute, and training of a hundred people, that we’re going to do a five hour groundwater training, just to talk about the issues of race, and the inequities, and the design of racial inequities in the United States. It’s got the deep training that we are partnering with this organization and going to have my board, their boards, and other community leaders join us in this training.

I know that lots of district leaders are thinking about this very same issue, and care deeply about equity. What have you learned since you started this effort, and what words of wisdom might you have for people who may just be beginning this work.

TALISA DIXON: I would say, you have to have the courage to lead the conversation. They will be tough. They have tough conversations.

Our equity issues that were front and center revolved around race, but there are other inequities that are happening too, where you get to gender. But they have to have the courage to have the conversations when they see something that doesn’t seem right, or look right. Have the conversation, and then have the courage to put some things in place. Do your research. Go out and look at articles, and go to seminars, and reach out to others about, “Once I know, then what do I do?” Because every community may not say, “Okay, we’re going to put a policy in place.”

Every community may not do that. Every community teacher’s organization may not partner, and say, “Okay, we will agree that we need some … this is going to require training.” But I think every community would agree that we want what’s best for our kids, and if something that we can do differently, let’s have a conversation about it.

I think that’s big, because you’re the leader of that organization, and again, what you permit, you promote … and I always also say, “When you don’t respond, it’s also a response.” So, we have to be clear about our actions, and what we are allowing to happen in our organization, because kids are watching, families are watching. People are watching from the outside, about what are you going to do next? “Oh, what is he going to do?” “What is she going to do?” And “Is it right for kids?”

Well, my guest today, has been Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of Cleveland Heights University Heights School District, in Ohio. Dr. Dixon, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today.

TALISA DIXON: Oh, thank you. It’s been a great opportunity, and yes, I appreciate you asking, and digging in this area, and I hope that the information that I’ve talked about today, and the things that I’ve shared would help other district leaders have a conversation with their communities, about something that’s definitely so important.

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Field Trip is a podcast from Frontline Education. Frontline’s industry-leading software is designed exclusively for K-12, and is built to help school systems recruit, hire, engage, develop and retain their employees. For more information, visit FrontlineEducation.com/FieldTripPodcast.

For Frontline Education, I’m Ryan Estes. Thanks for listening, and have a great day.