New responsibilities bring new opportunities

Washington state’s 1,477 school directors oversee the education of more than 1.2 million K-12 students. That is a tremendous responsibility that all of us want to fulfill as best we can. To that end, the Washington School Board Standards identify multiple areas of focus that can lead to equitable educational experiences and outcomes for each and every student.

The standards tell us to provide conditions conducive to student success, commit to high expectations for every student, and that boards need to believe that all students can learn and achieve.

Growing skills and knowledge

As part of its commitment to helping school directors realize their full leadership potential, WSSDA is developing a training program titled Commitment to Educational Equity. These trainings will give school directors a deep understanding of what educational equity means. Directors will develop their own cultural proficiency as education leaders and consider how to lead their school districts in a way that supports and expects equitable experiences and outcomes for every student in their community.

The Commitment to Educational Equity program represents just one of many programs under development within WSSDA’s professional learning system, called OnBoard. Through OnBoard, school directors can access the training needed to expand their skills and understanding while also meeting the new state requirements in Senate Bill 5044.

The relevant curriculum is composed of an introductory course plus courses in these topics:
A. Recognizing Diversity and Cultivating Inclusion
B. Developing Cultural Proficiency
C. Addressing Opportunity and Outcome Disparities
D. Eliminating Identity Discrimination
E. Dismantling Institutional Racism

Initial Professional Development

Beginning with the 2022 calendar year, school directors must complete the program once per term of elected office, with one exception: newly elected directors must complete it within two years of election. The initial requirements include a minimum of two 2.5-hour trainings that must include the introductory course plus one course from any of the five topic areas listed above from A to E.

Continuing Professional Development

After completing the initial training requirement of 5 hours, school directors are required to engage in a minimum of one 2.5-hour training in each subsequent term from any of the five topic areas listed above from A to E.

WSSDA’s immediate past president President Rick Jansons has served on the Richland School Board for nearly 20 years. He said:

“The longer I’ve served, the more I realized that there’s more I need to learn. The Commitment to Educational Equity training in OnBoard will take a few hours to complete, but what you take away may benefit you, and by extension your students, for the rest of their lives.”