Group highlights the issue of equality in school

Discussion unites students and teachers of all backgrounds


Shoshi Leviton

Sophomore Genesis Buckhalton has never been treated inequitably by a teacher or student, but she fears that she could based on the color of her skin.

Buckhalton and many others met to discuss  the issue of equity in the school on Feb. 20. Students from all grades and a variety of staff members gathered in room B233 to discuss the issue of any sort of equality in the school. Among those in attendance were superintendent Rob Metz and assistant principal Kari Schwietering.

The discussion was led by Oscar Reed, a former restorative practitioner and group leader brought to Park by Cory Lorentz. Reed has led many circles discussing equity in the school with Lorentz’s class and the two of them decided they needed to open up the discussion to the entire school.

“This is the third equity circle I have led with the school, but before this I have done a number just with Ms. Lorentz’s class,” Reed said.

Reed opened the circle with a question that had been discussed during their previous meeting Feb. 18. The question was: “Do you think that every student is treated equitably or the same in this school?”

There were a variety of answers to this question, but most of the students in the room agreed that overall, students are treated equally by teachers, but not necessarily by classmates. Sophomore Genesis Buckhalton is among those who believes so.

“I like to think that everyone is being treated equally regardless of race, religion or gender, but I know that is not true,” Buckhalton said. “I see students being treated inequitably amongst peers more so than teachers.”

After everyone had answered the first question Reed proposed a second question to the group. He asked “If you feel like you are not being treated equally in a class how does that affect you work and effort you put into the class?” He continued with “How easy or difficult is it to learn if you feel like you’re not being treated equitably?”

Buckhalton said she believes she is treated well in class and teachers encourage her to grow and learn, but she constantly fears that her treatment will change because of the color of her skin.

“I am treated pretty equally by all of my teachers and they care that I am learning, but I always have the fear that I will be treated differently because I’m black,” Buckhalton said.

Reed said he has seen progress just after three meetings and believes the way to make progress with the issue of equality in school is to keep having discussions.

“The more we have these circles the more people become comfortable talking about their experiences and its bringing us closer to equality,” Reed said. “I have seen a drastic improvement in the discussion even just after three meetings.”