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Superintendent: ‘Equity is not a moment, it’s a movement’

By Bob Steenson,

Achieving equity for all students is “a long journey that never stops,” according to the Charles City School District superintendent.

Mike Fisher talked to the Board of Education at its meeting last week on how the district has been working on its strategic goals, and the first goal is equity and achievement.

“There’s been a heightened sense of momentum around this with recent events in our nation, but I want to remind all of us that this is not a moment, it’s a movement,” Fisher said.

Superintendent: 'Equity is not a moment, it's a movement'
Mike Fisher

“I’m really proud of our team,” he told the board, saying the district had spent two years getting a better perspective of the community and the student body by talking with community members and students.

That perspective culminated in the district’s new mission – “Regardless of who you are or what your story is, you can learn and be loved here.”

“We’re ready to move to the next phase,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a long ways to go, and it’s going to be hard, difficult conversations at times and we need to ask questions about hard things.

“We have to clarify things that oppress. We have to coordinate ways to remedy it, and then we have to cultivate help in our organization. We know we need to do that, especially with our staff and our student body,” Fisher said.

“We all have good hearts. We mean well, but that’s not enough. Sometimes it takes more than that,” he said.

Fisher said the next phase is “aggressive education” of staff and students, by investing in them and equipping them to build empathy and to “understand areas of bias and oppression, especially in our systems.”

Fisher said he was working with a good friend, Stacey Cole, who has been superintendent of the Storm Lake School District since July 2018, the same time Fisher became superintendent in Charles City.

“She is someone who is just a warrior for social justice, and we both work in communities that are diverse, and that’s one of our greatest strengths,” he said.

“We’ve been talking about partnerships on how we can pull resources and work on this together. And so this summer we’re spending time at leadership teams building our teams, and the curriculum that will be necessary for this to work in the long term,” he said.

“More of this will come this fall, but I wanted the board to be aware as our leadership team has been doing tremendous work on this,” he said.

Fisher said a report on the district’s second strategic goal, culture and climate, will be discussed in a presentation by district senior leadership at the July 20 school board meeting.

On the third strategic goal, facilities and infrastructure, Fisher said the district rolled out a new program last week called Project Main Street.

“Everyone of our campuses has a ‘main street’ where most of our customers — our students and guests — travel, and we want to make sure they are in the best shape possible,” he said.

He said the district is “getting really picky about how our campuses look” and they’ve developed an easy standard – “Do our facilities look like we’re expecting company?”

“We’ve all had company to our houses, and we treat our houses differently if we expect guests coming over,” Fisher said. “And we literally have guests every day.”

He said the district has made great progress in that area in the past two years, “and we’re ready to kick it to the next level and really make it not just about the leadership team but about all of our people.”