Bensalem School District Hosts First-Ever Equity Summit, Committing to Ensure Every Student’s Success

Dan Weckerly
By
Vanessa Woods, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Equity Summit
Image via Bensalem School District Livestream.
Vanessa Woods, chair of Bensalem School District’s newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, addresses attendees at the inaugural Equity Summit.

In our post-George Floyd world, words like equity and inclusion are being parsed for accountability, not mere intent. In response to that societal shift, Bensalem School District hosted a summit for local educators, as covered by Samantha Bambino in the Lower Bucks Times

The gathering’s goal was to ensure that every student — regardless of race, ability, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation — has the chance to succeed. 

Speaker Vanessa Woods is chair of the district’s newly created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She explained that the importance of this initiative filters down to the very words that describe it. 

Equality, she said as means of explanation, is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is ensuring that that shoe is the right size. Diversity is asking people of color to the party. Inclusion is escorting them to the dance floor. 

She also warned that school inaction is a disservice. “Saying ‘It’s always been like that’ leads to complacency,” she asserted. 

Keynote speaker Valda Valbrun, of Valbrun Consulting Group, said that creating an equitable school environment starts with self-examination. As a first step, she called for participants to consider how their own upbringing affects their view of others.

Progress will be a long-term goal.  

“We have a lot of work to do,” Valbrun said. “It can’t be one conference, one conversation, one course.” 

More on this presentation, including information related to Pennridge School District, is at the Lower Bucks Times. 

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