DEI (or EDI, as the Richardson ISD prefers) stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Simply, it means that "all people, regardless of race, gender, or other demographic attribute, should be able to succeed." Somehow, teaching that noble goal has been twisted into something members of the RISD community, in public comments at a recent school board meeting, called "racist indoctrination" and "hateful divisive ideology" and "brainwashing." Whoa.
Then I came across one simple graph that highlights the fact that something is wrong in RISD, and, yes, it has to do with race. It highlights a racial divide in school rankings. I'm willing to listen to suggestions for how to address it, but I won't be convinced by anything that doesn't start from a premise that race is at the root of a problem here in RISD.
Source: Heidi Moore.
Here is the graph. RISD's elementary schools are graphed along the x-axis. First note the solid lines that slope from upper left to lower right. Those measure the percentage of students in each school who are "at risk" or "economically disadvantaged."
Then pay attention to the background colored sections of the graph. That's the racial composition of the schools. Whites are denoted by the yellowish orange wedge in the middle, which gets gradually larger from left to right. Meaning there are relatively few whites in the schools at the left side of this graph, and relatively many whites in the schools at the right side.
Finally, look at the schools. The five highest ranked schools in RISD, according to Schooldigger.com, are Brentfield, White Rock, Prairie Creek, Canyon Creek, and Mohawk. Notice they are bunched up on the right hand side of that graph. The five lowest ranked schools on Schooldigger are Audelia Creek, Carolyn G Bukhair, Spring Valley, Stults Road, and RISD Academy. They are bunched up on the left side of that graph. That is, school ranking correlates very well with both "at risk" status of the students and with the racial composition of the school. Let me repeat that. School ranking correlates very well with racial composition of the school.
RISD has failed to solve this problem in the fifty years since legal segregation officially ended in this country and in the almost ten years since RISD got out from under a court supervision. Now we have people in RISD who don't even want to talk about the problem. Who think valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a "racist hateful ideology." Is it any wonder the problem still exists?
I'm willing to listen to almost any new suggestions for how we ought to deal with this pernicious racial divide in Richardson, except one. I do not believe that ignoring race (acting "color blind" as some call it) is going to do anything about a problem that has such an obvious racial component. As long as there's a strong correlation between the rankings of the schools and their location along the x-axis on that graph, we aren't solving the problem; we are only closing our eyes to it. The DEI policy that RISD adopted is forcing the RISD community to address the elephant in the room. Finally. It's about time.