Carney, Bunting announce creation of Office of Equity and Innovation
Gov. John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced June 18 the creation of the new Office of Equity and Innovation and a new chief equity officer at the Delaware Department of Education.
The Office of Innovation and Improvement will transition to the new Office of Equity and Innovation, led by current director Jim Simmons, who will become DOE’s first chief equity officer. The office’s initial goals are:
— To design and implement equity professional learning at all levels of the DOE and provide consultation and training to local education agencies focused on policies and practices in our school systems, facilitating constructive conversations on race and social justice, and addressing individual needs of state and local agencies to promote the elimination of racial inequities.
— To develop and maintain an equity clearinghouse that will provide resources, trainings, conversation tools and supports to districts and charter schools so they can facilitate important conversations and lessons about equity and racism with students and staff.
— To continue developing and maintaining a social and emotional learning clearinghouse to provide curricular resources, trainings, conversation tools, and social/emotional supports for use in individual classrooms and in schools by LEAs and across the state education agency as well.
— To make progress in diversifying the educator workforce.
— To continue supports to high needs schools, particularly Christina School District’s city schools.
The team will consist of current employees and part-time rotating teacher equity liaisons. Additionally, staff from various teams across the DOE will be tapped to help this team broaden its impact.
“Our revamped Office of Equity and Innovation will provide districts, charters, school leaders, and educators with the resources and guidance to have hard yet vital conversations with students and colleagues about race and inequity in Delaware and our country,” said Carney. “If we choose to ignore our ugly history around race, we can’t begin to understand the anger and frustration I’ve heard from so many Delawareans who are demanding justice and equality. The team will continue to support the Christina School District as it transforms its Wilmington schools. The equity office will also lead the important work of diversifying our educator workforce.”
Bunting said the department will work with districts and schools to give staff the tools to talk about race with students and colleagues.
“Educators and school leaders want to have these important conversations with their students and colleagues about race,” said Bunting. “Our new office will give school leaders and educators the tools to do just that. Additionally, research has shown that Black students, particularly at the elementary level, have lasting positive impacts if they have at least one educator who is Black. We intend to work with educator prep programs, our own teacher pathway program, and our districts/charters to focus on a diverse pipeline and workforce.”
“I am honored to serve as the DOE’s first chief equity officer,” said Simmons, former principal of Mount Pleasant High School and director of secondary schools at Brandywine School District and current director of the Office of Innovation and Improvement. “Our team will continue to support the Christina School District and its city schools, will focus on providing guidance, resources and trainings to our districts/charters and continue the vital work of recruiting and retaining more educators of color.”