Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
One of the many factors blamed for Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) students’ low academic achievement is that students do not respond adequately in a system where teachers are overwhelming White. Over 80 percent of the SUSD student population belong to an ethnic or racial minority.
On July 30, 2010 —during a luncheon meeting at The Council for the Spanish Speaking (El Concilio)— SUSD Superintendent Carl Toliver referred to SUSD’s staff ethnic breakdown and his goal of balancing that with the ethnic breakdown of students.
According to Robert Thompson, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at SUSD, this is going to be neither simple nor quick. “We have a lot of people affected by layoffs. Still, we’re always looking for people in the specific areas of Science, Math and Special Education,” said Thompson on August 9, 2010, during the last SUSD Minority Recruitment Board Committee (MRBC) meeting, “We don’t have a massive amount of openings. I don’t think any district does right now. But there are things we should and could do to keep the focus on bringing in a diverse and qualified staff. It is important to know what you can and can’t do legally.”
What’s more important: because of labor contracts, if the SUSD start contracting personnel anew, the recently-laid off —by seniority, not ethnicity— are first on the list. The proportions here are unclear. Scott Traub, SUSD Administrator of the Research, Evaluation and Assessment, is preparing a report that shows the current ethnic breakdown of the more than 4,000 people employed by the District. “It’s going to take awhile,” warns Traub, noting hiring practices are very cautious on ethnic data.
“When folks are sent down by us (NAACP) to turn in an application, folks do not feel like it’s been accepted or they don’t get an interview,” complained MRBC member Bobby Bivens “I’ve referred qualified people to apply for administrative positions and they either didn’t get an interview or lost the position to someone else.”
Another MRBC member, John Carvana, asked if the SUSD “has a process where you are allowed to track minority candidates so we can see how many applied for a position, how many were selected to interview and how many were actually selected?”
Thompson advised that “you can get into trouble if you start tracking them. But we do have basic data that we ask people to fill out.”
Thompson added he also keeps a tab on minority organizations like the Alliance of African American Educators and the Latino Educators Association of California. “I feel that whoever is in HR should have contact with these organizations,” he concluded.
The next MRBC meeting is scheduled for September 7, 2010, at 5 p.m. and it’s open to the public. For more information contact MRBC chair, SUSD Trustee Gloria Allen, or call the Superintendent’s office at (209) 933-7070.