On April 17, 2021, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that Bozeman Public Schools has an equity task force that is developing a roadmap to create a school district that is “inclusive, diverse and equitable.” The newspaper reported that members of the task force read the book How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. When discussing their work, a member of the task force reportedly said, “If we’re to become effective in dismantling racism in all its many forms, we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.” This member of the task force was reported to be a member of the group Montana Racial Equity Project.
The Montana Racial Equity Project states on it website that the organization “strives to achieve equity, racial justice, and positive transformational change for Montana’s historically marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples in the personal, social, systemic, and structural arenas.” The group has a list of “racial equity and justice projects” also on its website. The first topic on the list is “classroom dialogues (elementary to graduate school).”
Bozeman Public Schools has a page on its website dedicated to the school district’s equity work. The page has a document for each of the eight listening sessions the school district hosted in August and September of 2021. The comments from concerned residents were also pulled and combined into one larger document. Comments included residents asking for education to not be made political and voicing concerns regarding what students are learning from a curriculum involving equity.
The school district published equity talking points in July 2021. These talking points specifically address the school district’s curriculum. The document states that “future equity work in Bozeman Public School may entail looking at equitable opportunities for students through various lenses.” This is followed with “Curriculum & Instruction” as the first example. The document then states that students will have “access to standards-based, content-rich, culturally affirming curriculum and instruction.”
The school district also published a “Board Education Presentation” from July 2021. The presentation has an image that appears to show why the school district perceives equity as more important than equality. The left side of the image shows three people of different heights standing on one box each with one person struggling to watch a game over a fence. The right side of the image has the shorter person standing on two boxes to successfully watch the game with the other two people.
On December 13, 2021, the school district revised and adopted Policy #3610 for student success. The policy was originally adopted October 12, 2020. The updated version of the policy does not include the word “equity.” A presentation from the interim superintendent was also published on the school district’s website discussing Policy #3610. The interim superintendent stated that the word “equity” was removed from the policy to appease the community, but he then reaffirmed that the school district will continue to emphasize equity moving forward:
So, yes, we removed the term from the policy to reduce polarization. But hear me clearly, we have been doing, we are doing, and we will continue to do equity work in Bozeman public schools. We meet students where they are at with competent and compassionate teams of educators and do all we can to meet the needs of each individual student. We aren’t afraid to use the word equity in Bozeman Public Schools.