On February 22, 2022, the superintendent of St. Anthony-New Brighton School District sent an email to parents promoting an “Equity Review” in partnership with the organization Equity Alliance MN. The email stated: “During the months of February and March, Equity Alliance will be reviewing school programs, practices and policies that support student success.” The email also announced that “Equity Alliance will launch an online survey that will assist us in gathering information about the district from your point of view.” The survey opened on February 22, 2022, and closed on March 1, 2022.
One question asked parents if their “child’s school does a good job supporting students with marginalized identities or who belong to marginalized groups or communities.” The survey specifically explained that “for the purposes of this survey marginalized identities include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, cognitive impairments, socioeconomic status, language, religious identity or immigration status.”
The survey then asked parents about their “gender identity.” The options for answers to the question included “woman,” “man,” transgender woman or man,” “non-binary or non-conforming,” “agender,” “genderqueer or gender fluid,” “two-spirit,” and an option to create any gender. The survey also asked the sexual orientation of parents with possible answers including “heterosexual/straight,” “asexual,” “bisexual,” “gay/lesbian,” “pansexual,” and “queer.” The survey additionally asked parents their “race/ethnicity.”
Equity Alliance MN’s website states that the organization believes “that race and culture fundamentally shape and influence our core values, our thinking, our policies and our practices.” The organization’s website also states that its “Equity Review is a process that supports a district through data-informed practices to guide decision-making, implementation and action on how to develop context specific strategies to school-community concerns.” Equity Alliance MN explains that the purpose of the Equity Review is to support “districts and organizations through collection of multiple data points, qualitative and quantitative research, and identifying gaps, areas for growth and strengths” by doing the following:
- Walkthroughs at the classroom, school and/or district level
- Surveys to gather quantitative data from stakeholders utilizing up to seven individualized stakeholder survey options
- Focus groups and community conversations to gather voice and insight
- Data aggregation of a variety of district data points through an equity lens
- A summary of findings and considerations
Equity Alliance MN also offers training for educators to implement equity into classrooms. The organization’s website states that “Equity Alliance MN is dedicated to providing an array of professional and organizational development services that are designed WITH you to increase equity, racial, and cultural awareness and responsiveness in an effort to decrease opportunity and achievement gaps for students, including students of color, Native American students, and students living in poverty.” Learning outcomes for teachers are to “be able to identify the impacts of racism in and out of the classroom” and to “develop new language to enter racial discourse to address the racial opportunity gap.”
The school district and its schools appear to send out emails to parents often discussing racial equity issues. On February 21, 2022, the principal of St. Anthony Middle School sent an email to parents stating that teachers are undergoing “racial” training:
Today, our teachers had a mini-workshop on the skills and strategies on responding to daily racial, cultural aggressions and offensive comments about others’ identities. It is our intent to bring these strategies to our own grown-up to grown-up conversations, as well as to our students in our classrooms and other school spaces.
On February 10, 2022, St. Anthony Middle School’s principal also appeared to support a political cause and sent an email to parents with a survey to fill out that would give their children permission to participate in a “walk-out” protest. The email explained that “chaperoning staff” would be involved and that “the absence will be excused.”
The school district has a page on its website dedicated to “Educational Equity.” Several of the school district’s policies are promoted on this page. On October 6, 2020, the school district appeared to revise its “Equal Education Opportunity” policy to include “gender identity or expression” as “free from discrimination.” On the same day, the school district also appeared to revise its “Equal Employment Opportunity” policy to include “gender identity or expression.”