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Cumberland County Schools recognized for commitment to equity in education

10 MMG Middle School ClassroomThe Cumberland County School District is being recognized for its commitment to equity in education, earning two awards in the 27th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Board Association’s publication American School Board Journal. The Magna Awards honor districts that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students.

Across the nation, there were 15 total awards given. CCS was the only district to earn two awards for “Mentored Next Steps in Equity” and “Equity-Focused Classroom Management.”

An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators met in December and selected the winners. This is the fourth year that the awards recognized school districts and their leaders for efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

Educational equity depends on two main factors — fairness and inclusion. Fairness implies that factors specific to one's personal conditions should not interfere with academic success. Inclusion refers to a comprehensive standard that applies to everyone in the education system.

“The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez.

Cumberland County schools serve a diverse pupil population: “Almost 72% of our population are students of color (45% African American, 14% Hispanic, 9% multiracial, 2.5% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 1.5% Native American),” said Jovan Denaut, CCS Integrated Academic & Behavior Facilitator. In CCS, 78% of the student body receives free and reduced-price lunches.

The District Equity Team strives to develop comprehensive programs that encourage diversity and excellence in its administrators, teachers and staff and works to ensure that all students are provided equitable opportunities and outcomes. “I've been doing equity work in the district for seven years,” Denaut said. “The Core Values of the CCS Strategic Plan focus on equity. Students have equitable access to engaging learning that prepares them to be collaborative, competitive and successful."

“We proudly serve diverse student populations at our 89 schools,” said Alicia Chisolm, chair of the Cumberland County Board of Education. “Despite the challenges associated with the global pandemic, we are moving forward with the Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2024, and are making progress toward accomplishing our goals, which include defining, understanding and promoting educational equity. “

The growing importance of equity is based on the premise that an individual's level of education directly correlates to his future quality of life.

“Mentored Next Steps in Equity” was launched after a professional development workshop left participants asking what they could do to promote equity in their respective areas. The other initiative “Equity-Focused Classroom Management,” was an intensive classroom management course implemented to embrace diversity.

Equity in education usually means fairness. It requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success. That requires understanding the challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students and providing additional support to help them overcome those barriers. While this may not ensure equal outcomes, school systems should strive to ensure that every child has equal opportunity for success.

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that race/ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status are likely to emerge as predictors of adult health status. Socioeconomic status interacts with and confounds analyses of race/ethnicity and gender. The Academy recommends that pediatricians, in collaboration with social scientists, should develop and apply research methodologies that result in careful definitions of the effects of these variables on child health.

In the context of social systems such as education the terms equity and equality have similar but slightly different meanings. Equality refers to scenarios in which all segments of society have the same levels of opportunity and support. Equity extends the concept of equality to include providing varying levels of support based on individual need or ability. In education, equality means providing every student with the same experience. Equity, however, means overcoming discrimination against specific groups of people, especially defined by race and gender.

In modern times, usage of the term equity has increased because of concerns about social justice and a desire for fairness for historically oppressed groups. Minority groups often have equal rights but are treated unfairly due to unequal access to resources or opposition from the majority who deny others equal representation while still acting within the law.

Pictured above: The Cumberland County School District is being recognized by the American School Board Journal for its efforts to advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students. (Photo courtsey Cumberland County Schools ). 

Spring class schedule released for Pechmann Fishing Education Center

06 learn to fishThe N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville has released its April workshop schedule.
All courses will be led by trained volunteers and Wildlife Commission staff. A North Carolina fishing license is not required to take any of the classes. Pre-registration is required. The Center’s COVID-19 policies are stated on their website and must be followed during visits.
April 13-14: Introductory Fishing for Adults, from 6–9 p.m.
April 15: Basic Fishing Knots and Rigging, from 6:30 – 8 p.m.
April 16: Surf Fishing Workshop, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
April 17: BOW Fly-Fishing Workshop, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ($20 fee, women only)
April 22: Fly-tying Forum, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. (in-person and virtual)
April 24: Basic Rod Building Course, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Registration for all clinics and classes is available online at ncwildlife.org/learning/education-centers/pechmann, or by calling 910-868-5003.

Housing costs are up for military families living off post

09 SoldierFamilyHC1405 source 1Many military families who live off post are paying more than $200 a month out of pocket for housing costs beyond what they’re getting in their Basic Allowance for Housing, according to a newly released survey. “For military families, finding housing that fulfills both location and family needs can be a costly balancing act,” stated researchers in the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey. By law, BAH is designed to cover, on average, 95 percent of service members’ housing rental and utility costs in the private sector. Families are left to pick up 5 percent of their housing costs, which according to the Defense Department, should range between $70 to $158 a month in 2021. Researchers recommend that Congress change the Basic Allowance for Housing to 100 percent of the average housing rental costs in the private sector.

Hay Street construction project begins

08 thermo crosswalkConstruction is under way to change a section of Hay Street between Winslow Street and Ray Avenue. It will be reduced from two lanes in both directions to one lane each way. Hay Street in that vicinity will be closed to thru traffic for one week for construction. The new lanes will be resurfaced and marked for high visibility. An existing crosswalk in front of City Hall will be removed. In mid-May, a new high-visibility, thermoplastic crosswalk will be installed leading to Hurley Way which is the entrance to Segra Stadium. Pre-formed thermoplastic pavement markings provide durability and visibility to increase the life of markings for crosswalks, bike paths and handicap designated areas.

Cumberland County bridge closing

07 I 95 Eastover bridgeConstruction is underway to upgrade and widen 16 miles of I-95 from Murphy Road (Exit 55) in Cumberland County to Exit 71 near Dunn in Harnett County. NCDOT also plans to begin widening the interstate from Exit 71 to the I-40 (Exit 81) junction in Johnston County later this year. The two segments total 26 miles and involve widening the interstate from its present four lanes to a total of eight lanes. The Baywood Road bridge spanning Interstate 95 in Eastover has been closed to be rebuilt in order to accommodate the highway widening project beneath it. The road will reopen early next year. A detour will send drivers to the nearby Murphy Road overpass (Exit 55) to get around the closure. A N.C. Department of Transportation contractor is widening I-95 between exits 55 and 71. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2024. Visit www.ncdot.gov/projects/Pages/ for more information about both projects.

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