A USD 383 school board member is providing some clarity on the district’s intent to seek voluntary culturally diverse teaching and learning training.

During KMAN’s In Focus Wednesday, Curt Herrman said when the board initially approved the $61,500 purchase of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning training from BetterLesson, Inc. on April 21, the board wasn’t approving anything that was going to be part of curriculum, as has been suggested from opponents during each of the three previous school board meetings.

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The item was pulled from consideration at the board’s May 5 meeting after it was determined At Risk funding couldn’t be used for such a purchase. Herrman says the conversation doesn’t end there.

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USD 383 Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Paula Hough tells KMAN the goal of her department is to create staff learning opportunities that provide better practices of equity and inclusion within the classroom.

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The BetterLesson training is aimed at teachers and not toward students. It is not curriculum based but rather professional development based. Hough explains the reason the district is exploring such training is because diversity, equity and inclusion falls into the district’s strategic framework. She says it has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory, as many critics have claimed over the past several meetings.

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According to data from the district, the student population is comprised of 64 percent white; 15 percent Hispanic/Latino, 8 percent African American, 4 percent Asian and 9 percent from two or more races. Graduation rates for 2017 through 2017 to 2020 show a 61 percent rate for African American students and 76 percent rate for Hispanic students compared to 86 percent for White students.

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