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Exclusive HPISD Touts ‘Inclusive’ Schools Week

Education

Inclusive Rainbow Art | Image by Highland Park School

Highland Park Independent School District is conducting its sixth-annual “Inclusive Schools Week” event during the entire first week of December, continuing its years-long focus on implementing the tenets of a so-called “systems change” for inclusion in education.

Beginning in 2001, the annual event is sponsored by the Inclusive School Network (ISN) and an education consulting firm, Stetson & Associates, Inc., which advertises a “systems change” package of services for “creating and sustaining inclusive schools.”

Social scientists define a systems change as “an intentional process designed to alter the status quo by shifting the function or structure of an identified system with purposeful interventions.”

According to the ISN’s 2022 letter to principals, the week-long affair was created to focus on “providing a quality education… [to] those students marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors.”

The affluent Dallas district touted the event in a self-congratulatory fashion, stating it is “an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the intentional efforts HPISD takes to create a welcoming, inclusive and respectful environment for every student, every day.”

During its 2021 Inclusive Schools event, the district had students read “books about diversity, difference, empathy and understanding,” create “inclusivity word clouds,” and participate in “empathy demonstrations.”

According to the ISN’s guide for the event, each activity is designed to either promote awareness, build knowledge and skill, or “influence the system” — language similar to that used to market services provided by Stetson & Associates Inc., a marquee sponsor.

“Activities in this section reflect the importance of taking knowledge and skill to the next level — Change within the system!” the guide reads.

One of the strategies in the guide for implementing activities that “influence the system” is to “embed lessons on diversity and disability into already established units and lesson plans.”

The guide also recommends that teachers “encourage students to write to Congress or a local elected official about inclusive education issues that concern them.”

There are multiple instances in which ISN encourages or recommends using students to evangelize their message. For example, in ISN’s media kit for participating schools, the organization also recommends using students to speak to reporters who may have questions about the program.

“When reporters come to your school or you send out a press release don’t forget the voices of all the members of the school community,” ISN argued in its kit.

As the district prepares for the weeklong inclusion event, not everyone in the community feels like HPISD practices what it preaches.

Russell Fish, founder of The Open Records Project and resident of HPISD, responded to a request for comment on the district’s upcoming “Inclusive Schools Week” event by sharing his frustration with the district’s treatment of its black families and black students.

“[Highland Park] treats black parents like children and black children like dirt,” Fish chided.

Fish also shared a story of a black family he knows that unenrolled their children from the district due to what they deemed inappropriate discussions about sex in HPISD schools.

Furthermore, a review of Highland Park ISD’s enrollment policies that govern who gets to attend its schools reveals that they are extremely exclusionary.

According to the district’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage, Highland Park ISD strictly limits its enrollment to children who reside within its physical boundaries unless the district employs a parent of the child.

Incredibly, the policy allowing for teachers and staff that live outside of HPISD to have their children attend the district was only instituted in 2018, which further illustrates the school system’s exclusive, insular nature.

While this policy may have a small impact on diversifying the socioeconomic makeup of the district’s student population, it likely has no impact on other forms of inclusion.

For instance, only 17.9% of the student population of the district is nonwhite, while an even smaller portion (10.5%) of its teacher population is nonwhite.

The page also encourages residents to report “information about a family living outside the district but attending HPISD schools,” underscoring that every report is “confidential” and every report is “investigated.”

“Inclusive Schools Week” is December 5 through 9 at all participating schools.

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Cricket
Cricket
2 months ago

1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Linda Klinger
Linda Klinger
2 months ago

Taking more time out of the limited hours in the school day for affective, non-cognitive “purposeful intervention.” And how many taxpayer dollars went to the Stetson “consultants?” More SEL pandering and less classical learning.

Tom
Tom
2 months ago

Great school district

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
2 months ago

According to the district’s Frequency Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage, Highland Park ISD strictly limits its enrollment to children who reside within its physical boundaries unless the district employs a parent of the child.

This is the policy in every district my wife ever worked, which is three in this area, not including HPISD.

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  Bill Fox
2 months ago

Not true Mr. Fox, most district have a open policy. Just tell the truth it’s segregated and no one is going to do anything about it.

They teach their own history and defy anyone too change it. My granddaughter was in a student exchange program in Cambridge England.

She was asked to write a paper about slavery in America. She flipped out because it wasn’t taught in her school.

You see your wife can be inclusive at HP
but most school district’s in America are not allowed. Governor Abbott has banned most books that deal with slavery. Abbott will never challenge HP school district.

Your wife is blessed.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Anna Williams
2 months ago

She never worked in HPISD. Dallas, Garland, and Red Bird. They all had policies where people had to bring in a utility bill to prove residency. Maybe the policy has changed recently, but that was never the case in over 28 years. Rockwall also has a policy about residency. You have to verify every few years. Just saying. It’s the policy of most districts.

Further, why would HP allow everyone into their district if they are paying the exorbitant taxes of HP residents? It makes no sense. Their schools rank high because of their money and resources.

Dlm
Dlm
Reply to  Anna Williams
1 month ago

I think you’re racist

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
2 months ago

I agree a great school district, with tons of capital. Unless you are very wealthy, don’t apply.

If you are Dirk with bi-racial children you are in. This is a segregated school district and will always be one. Write you Congressman and Senator to do what about inclusion. They will do absolutely nothing. Nice story but that’s all it is.

Max Frisson
Max Frisson
2 months ago

Since 1994, HPISD taxpayers have paid $1.32 billion, into Robin Hood, the state’s recapture wealth redistribution program. We are the 4th largest contribution although HPISD is the smallest district in the top 10, the others are Austin, Houston, and Plano.

Last edited 2 months ago by Max Frisson
Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  Max Frisson
2 months ago

When you have trillions in HP, $1.32 billion is a drop in the bucket because they get it all back in taxes and right off.

You have to understand, no one is angry just speaking the truth.

jim
jim
Reply to  Anna Williams
2 months ago

Obviously you’re not very knowledgeable about how the tax system works. And -1 for spelling, unless you meant to say right on! 🙂

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  jim
2 months ago

Jim you are correct, I didn’t spell check write. Right on Jim but spot on for what I said!

When you grow up in segregation, you will never let word’s hurt. What hurts is all children not getting and equal education, So they can compete in the world!

jim
jim
Reply to  Anna Williams
2 months ago

I totally agree, words do not hurt. But lack of knowledge can hurt. Nobody knows what someone else has endured during their lives, and unknowledgeable proclamations do not make a truth. There are many issues that need fixing, and contributing to division will not fix them.
BTW, segregation comes in many forms, and the game of “my issues are worse than your issues” only helps to continue to divide people, it does not lead to unity.
There will always be people above you and below you on the continuum. If you make it your life’s work to diminish or attack those you perceive to be above you, then you may one day find yourself on the receiving end of that losing proposition. Unity is the answer, imo. 🙂

Dlm
Dlm
Reply to  Anna Williams
1 month ago

What hurts the kids Anna, is when a school system gets our tax money and then wastes it on teachers who are focused on race, color and gender ignoring the fact the children can hardly read or write.

Pete
Pete
Reply to  jim
2 months ago

Agreed! You clearly don’t understand taxes and “right” offs especially after the tax bill passed during the past administration.. HPISD still must have large donations from the parents via the PTA or other organizations in order to have the superior programs and quality education that are offered. This is due to the massive amount of property tax that goes into the Robin Hood recapture wealth program which attempts to spread the wealth around the state from the “haves” to the “have nots.” When this program got into full swing years ago the small Texas school districts were then able to build some beautiful football stadiums, acquire musical instruments for their bands as well as other programs for their districts which they would never have had the money for prior to passing this bill. My opinion is that this bill has helped the smaller districts to offer very similar quality in their educational offerings as compared to HPISD. Finally, the quality of education children are offered is largely dependent on the participation and support of the parents. The Dallas high school I went to was wonderful back in the late 60’s. We were criticized back then for our wealth. Back in the 1990’s one of my classmates sent her daughter to my high school and wanted to join the PTA. When she went to the school office to fill out the PTA paperwork she assumed was required she was told she would have to start a PTA group in order to join because one hadn’t existed for many years. Times have changed things as we knew it “back in the day.” Parents must understand that what they put into their students education will reap rewards but they can’t expect the state to do it all.

Gary Ward
Gary Ward
2 months ago

The very nature of this so-called “inclusive” week celebration is exclusive itself. HPISD and it’s community has every right to protect our kids and schools. Just as our country has a right to its boarders and the necessity to exclude those that are not part of it.
As for those that live within the Park Cities because of our schools, we have a right to protect what made it successful. This attack from special interest, self described progressive groups from outside our boarders is an undeserved attack on our community. My family and I have lived here most of our lives and have never seen anyone marginalize or excluded from anything within this community. Our kids deserve to be educated in an agenda free environment. A brief look at HP student test scores and ranking strongly indicates a departure from the methods and curriculum that put HPISD on the map. The implementation of “New” and better methods of teaching a few years ago did not work. Let’s focus on correcting that.
To celebrate inclusion you first must prove exclusion. Our kids don’t need another manufactured distraction.

William McAninch
William McAninch
2 months ago

I assume this is an opinion piece? Otherwise it’s a terribly written and biased article.

Dlm
Dlm
Reply to  William McAninch
1 month ago

No Bill it’s not