The David Douglas School District is among the most broadly diverse in Oregon. We are 64% students of color, including Latinx, Asian, Black, Indigenous and students who identify as multi-racial. They speak dozens of different languages from across the world. Diversity is arguably our greatest strength as a school district.
But when we talk about our amazing diversity, we are talking only about our students and their families. Only 10% of teachers and 20% of administrators identify as non-White. Though it is slowly growing year after year, our staff diversity does not align with our families.
For the sake of our students, our families and our staff, this needs to change. Research is clear that students benefit when educators better reflect their own demographics.
Our Staff of Color Affinity Group is leading this effort. This group has created three Freedom Dreams, their hopes and demands for bringing true equity, diversity and inclusion to our curriculum, our professional development, and, in Freedom Dream #3, our hiring and retention of staff.
Freedom Dream #3: We want to build a district culture that is unapologetic about hiring staff of color to increase representation of our student population.
This dream demands that we create pathways that encourage students of color to come back and work for David Douglas, that we reach out to families of color to apply for jobs in David Douglas, and that we bring an equity lens to our hiring process.
In one step toward that end, the District recently received a $336,000 “Grow Your Own” grant from the Oregon Department of Education through the Educator Advancement Council to fund a Teach Now program that will encourage, mentor and financially support community members and classified staff to become teachers in the District. DDSD is partnering with Warner Pacific University to help recruit and educate participants.
David Douglas also has a share of two grants secured by the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD) to support districts in East Portland and East Multnomah County to develop Grow Your Own programs. In addition, we have a pending grant submitted to Meyer Memorial Trust in the amount of $100,000 to help offset costs for Warner Pacific or Portland Community College for our participants.
This is on top of existing District programs partnering with local colleges and universities to help support our students who pursue a college degree in education.
Hear about the vision and importance of the Grow Your Own project from David Douglas staff in this DDSD Grow Your Own Video