MCPS gives an update on Anti-Racist Audit

By Zoe Cantor

MCPS provided an update on their Anti-Racist Systemwide Audit — an initiative which seeks to examine equitability throughout county practices and policies — in a countywide announcement yesterday. 

The audit will have six critical areas of focus: reviewing curricula, evaluating school cultures, studying MCPS workforce diversity, analyzing barriers to equity, recommending new strategies for engagement and measuring the progress of MCPS All In: Equity and Achievement Framework, which serves as an outline to better student success.

The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, a local non-profit, has spearheaded the audit since its announcement and has successfully performed audits across the country. The MAEC plans to announce its initial findings in the coming months before crafting a final report alongside MCPS staff this summer.

“Following the final report, MAEC will work collaboratively with MCPS staff as well as the Antiracist Audit Steering Committee to make recommendations that will influence staff professional development and classroom teaching for students, as well as the MCPS Strategic Plan,” MCPS said in its online statement.

Through the organization’s audit resources, the MAEC’s reviews current school practices that impact students and staff relative to race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion, among other factors. The organization divides its review into the following sections of schooling: policy, organization, environment, assessment, professional learning and curriculum development. In order to collect information on the district as a whole, the MAEC plans to analyze academic practices throughout all MCPS schools.

Many Whitman students are hopeful the audit will bring about positive results.

“I hope they change curriculums like English where we only read work written by white people,” senior Ela Shroff said. “When we do read about minorities it’s always about them struggling.”

After over 6,000 MCPS students signed a petition as a result of several racist incidents across the county and country, the Board of Education agreed to take action by implementing “anti-racist” curriculums in its schools. Students lobbied for MCPS to increase cultural awareness and address matters like racial injustice and white privilege. The county has since allocated $450,000 to the audit. 

“We’ve seen a lot of hate crimes around the county,” said MSP member Rachel Chen. “I’m happy MCPS is taking the steps to address them appropriately.”

In the coming months, MCPS will release a series of surveys for diverse stakeholder groups such as staff, students and parents to assess their personal experiences. MCPS will also host nine virtual town halls, with the potential for in-person sessions if health conditions permit.

The MAEC has stated it will be conducting another round of focus groups composed of minority stakeholders in MCPS to learn their insights and perceptions.

“I wish it didn’t take an outcry of students for it to happen,” Chen said. “But I’m glad the county is finally doing something after this long.”