We have to do better. Discrimination is happening in my school, and it's happening in your school.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are among the most important priorities in educational organizations—spanning K–12, higher education, and beyond. However, there is no set of universal standards to help these organizations establish and govern DEI initiatives.
In this informative webinar, three education experts will explore best practices and lessons learned regarding DEI. They'll also discuss how the current global COVID-19 pandemic is creating positive and negative impacts on the progress organizations are making with their DEI initiatives.
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Resources mentioned in the presentation
- Upper Arlington Schools 2019-2024 Strategic Plan: includes plans for fostering a safer and more inclusive environment
- Upper Arlington Schools Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commitment
- America to Me 10-Part Film Series
- The Story of Pleasant Litchford
- Dynamics Energy Services Safer-Healthier, Learning Environments Best Practices
Marc Stitt (00:00:00):
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, depending on where you are in the world. Welcome to today's FMX webinar, titled Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Today, we're going to have a candid discussion with three education leaders and very excited to get started.
Marc Stitt (00:00:16):
So our premise here today is that diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions are becoming very widespread all over the world and across every industry. But the question is, are they being effectively implemented? We'll explore that. Our educational industries, particularly K-12 and higher education, face unique challenges, but also have unique opportunities. And today, as we sit here in August of 2020, the current pandemic has raised any number of new questions and poses new challenges for this theme of diversity, equity and inclusion. But there are silver linings and some good news and we'll explore that. But one of the key things is we all need to work together to address diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges, and we need to explore how and what those best practices are. And that's what we're here to discuss today. The event is sponsored by FMX, a leading provider of facilities and maintenance management solutions that help organizations optimize their operations.
Marc Stitt (00:01:20):
Today's presenters. We're very fortunate to have a great panel with us. We have Dr. Paul Imhoff, Anna Esaki-Smith and Scott McKenzie. Welcome everyone. Tell us a little bit about yourself, starting with you, Paul.
Paul Imhoff (00:01:34):
Well great to be here today, Marc. Really appreciate the opportunity to have this discussion on this topic. My name is Paul Imhoff and I am the superintendent of the Upper Arlington Schools. We're a suburban K-12 district located in Columbus, Ohio, and we are just adjacent to Ohio state university serving about 6,500 students. Just a huge shout out to all of the school leaders who are watching us today. And I want to say thank you for all you are doing. I think that school leaders across our country are really stepping up and leading in a time when it's incredibly important to do that and incredibly difficult. So I just want to start by saying thanks.
Marc Stitt (00:02:17):
Well said, Paul. Anna, welcome.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:02:20):
Thank you. Thank you, Marc. Thanks very much for inviting me to participate today. My name is Anna Esaki-Smith. I'm co-founder of Education Rethink, which is a research consultancy. I am currently based in Chautauqua New York, which is an hour North of New York City, which is actually now one of the best places to be in the United States from a coronavirus perspective. I specialize in helping universities and education organizations and companies with their internationalization strategies, whether that's with student recruitment or partnership development, brand building and profile building globally. I moved back to the United States in 2018 after spending about 20 years overseas. I've lived in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, in China, and in Paris. But I'm originally from New York. So thank you very much. Greetings to everyone out there. Thanks very much.
Marc Stitt (00:03:19):
Welcome. Thank you, Anna. Scott?
Scott McKenzie (00:03:21):
Hi, Marc. I'm a retired educator from Groveport Madison schools and I have 38 years of experience. Groveport Madison is a suburb of a suburban district in Franklin County, Ohio, and so is Upper Arlington. So in the last several years of my career, I served as just the district's superintendent and I retired in 2012. I now since that time I worked for Dynamix Energy Services as a business development specialist. In 2018, I was elected to the Upper Arlington School Board where I currently serve as their Vice President. So Dr. Imhoff, and I get a chance to see each other quite a bit these days. So thanks for having me and hello to everyone.
Marc Stitt (00:04:18):
Well, thank you very much, Scott. On behalf of FMX thank you all for making time out of your busy schedules. This is among the busiest times, I think, in each of your careers and you know, for the audience, I just want to say, I think this panel represents the crux of what's happening today in our K-12 space, in our higher education space and with the benefit of Scott's guidance, a retrospective over the last 40 years about how these initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion have changed and evolved. So we're very excited to have you all, and let's get into the program. Today we're first going to do some definitions. We're going to level set on what is diversity, what is equity, and what is inclusion. We'll then move into the current state of these initiatives today and what's happening. We'll then talk about best practices and lessons learned and then close with a Q and A. As a reminder to our audience, you can use your chat window in the zoom meeting at any time to ask a question, I will pause periodically to ask those questions in context, but if we don't get to those, we'll do it at the end. Alright, let's get started. So first let's do some definitions and I think Anna you're in a great position, kind of at the global level to help us understand what is diversity, equity, and inclusion. So let's start with diversity.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:05:41):
Thanks very much. So I thought we would, the definitions that are here are I believe four foundation definitions. But it's important to remember that those are uniquely American or maybe North American definitions of diversity here being diversity is a representation of all our buried identities, and differences, ethnicity, gender, disability, et cetera. But when you look at diversity from an overseas perspective, primarily from let's say East Asia, they look upon this definition as being uniquely American. In Countries such as China, for example, the Han Chinese make up 91% of the overall population; in Japan, the Japanese makeup close to 98% of the population in that country. And in Korea it's 99% of Korea is made up of ethnic Koreans. That's not to say there aren't any other issues surrounding diversity. The issues of ethnic minorities for example are things to consider. But with regards to diversity, in terms of ethnicity, ethnicity overseas, in some countries, it is a bit different. However, those issues concerning gender ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability are more universal and are dealt with similarly as in the United States. But anyway, an important definition to sort of set the scene for today's discussion.
Marc Stitt (00:07:13):
Thank you. Let's then explore equity. I think a lot of people are confused about this one.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:07:19):
Exactly. Equity seeks to ensure basically fair treatment and equality of opportunity. Again, this is a definition that's from the Ford foundation. Equity in the United States is actually quite different. If you speak from a gender perspective. Let's take wage gaps, for example between men and women. In the United States overall, it is about a 20% wage differential between what men earn and what women earn. For example, in Japan, which is considered to be a developed economy, there, the wage difference is actually greater. It's 30% between men and women. There are many challenges that women in Japan face that women in the United States face, for example, to get sort of an equal seat at the table, childcare being one of them. But however, if you go a bit further, for example, in the middle East, the gender gap, wage gap there between men and women can be as big as 50%. So when we're talking about equity, in terms of equality of opportunity, fair treatment, in terms of earning capacity, it is quite different from the perspective overseas, compared to what people in the United States view as fair.
Marc Stitt (00:08:35):
Thank you. And then last but not least inclusion.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:08:40):
This is a really interesting term, inclusion, which is basically building a culture of belonging by inviting the contributions across a wide variety of participants. Overseas inclusion, actually a bit blurred with a collectivism of more of a collective mentality towards a society and the workplace. And collective is more to act for the greater good versus the individual, which is a bit different than inclusion, which actually includes sort of individuals within a group. For example, in Japan, in the workplace, for example, that is very evident. People always work, not always, but traditionally have worked on teams to further the greater good of the team to accomplish as a group, certain goals, rather than an individual aspiring to become a vice president or to climb a corporate ladder. So, inclusion from an East Asian perspective, this is sort of a general thing to say is somewhat unique. Uniquely, maybe Western or American.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:09:50):
From that perspective, I think these days, because of social media, the internet, there is much more of a focus on, being a unique individual. Even in countries that traditionally have not encouraged that. There are, I can't remember the exact term, but it's kind of like the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. It's sort of been that kind of a society in countries like Japan, for example, but that has changed with young people. And I think that will continue to change with internationalization and globalization. Everybody wants to stand out and be recognized for their accomplishments. So that feeds a little bit also into the idea of inclusion to include more of those individual unique points of view into a group.
Marc Stitt (00:10:44):
Understood, thank you. Now that we've established, you know, some of these baselines, we have to say, well, as we pivot into education, you know, this is a big topic, right? Diversity, equity, and inclusion, but what are the state of things in K-12 specifically. Scott, why don't you start with some comments and then Paul and Anna, you can add some of your thoughts.
Scott McKenzie (00:11:05):
Yeah. So I mentioned that I have a long career in the Groveport Madison schools. I started in 1973 in education actually. And when I started the minority population in Groveport Madison was 7%. So if you fast forward to today, over 61% of Groveport Madison students are designated as minority. So this change has occurred slowly, but has had a dramatic impact on the culture of the schools, as you can imagine. The teaching staff over the years struggled with issues of equity and inclusion as the culture shifted within the student body. Because the cultural shift happened over decades, a lot was done with our staff to understand the changes. I suspect that there are quite a few districts out there and across the nation where this type of cultural shift has occurred. And I just think now because of our awareness and our work surroundings, this area is really an area that we can take off and improve upon.
Marc Stitt (00:12:36):
Paul or Anna, any comments?
Paul Imhoff (00:12:41):
I agree with Scott and I think things have been rapidly changing. And my hope is that we've actually reached a tipping point in these discussions as well. As school districts across the country we have been confronting these issues. But I think since the murder of George Floyd, this summer things have dramatically changed. And I think this is an opportunity for us as leaders and people who are here specifically to serve students to really step up and make sure that we're having these conversations. And beyond that, we're actually taking concrete action, and leading change in a meaningful way.
Marc Stitt (00:13:20):
Thank you, Anna?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:13:21):
Just a quick note from a global perspective that a lot of countries have been focusing sort of on just basic education to make sure that all populations, whether they be rural or from economically disadvantaged, parts of certain countries are allowed access to education there. The percentage of students that go to higher education is a focus because to have more university graduates means that universities can build, excuse me, that countries can build workforces that are competitive. So many countries equate the pathway from high school to college as being key so that the students need to be well-educated to be able to go to universities, not overseas, but just within their own home countries. So, historically pre-pandemic that has been the focus, that pathway. I think, due to the disruptive nature of the pandemic that they're going to have to focus on sort of the other bit, which is to get kids physically back into schools. But, but anyway to agree with the team that, that status is something that maybe has been disrupted a little bit right now.
Marc Stitt (00:14:35):
Right. We'll talk a little bit about that disruption later and the good and the bad, but I wanted to pivot to, I think, a real message of leadership and Paul wanted you to speak with how Upper Arlington Schools in particular are addressing these initiatives. And I know Scott will have some color being a board member. So you want to tell us a little bit about this?
Paul Imhoff (00:14:59):
Yeah, thanks a lot. And I'm hoping Scott adds a lot of color because none of this happens without the board of education and leading. And so to any members of boards who are with us today, thank you for your leadership and know that we can't do anything without you. As a school district, we've been on this journey formally since about 2015. I will just tell you a bit about our story. We are a wealthy community. We were founded about a century ago and as part of our founding, there were literally deed restrictions in place that you could not buy a home here if you were not a white Christian. So you have to go back to our founding and our history, and we have to acknowledge those things, I think, and those things happened in many places around our country.
Paul Imhoff (00:15:52):
And I think sometimes we shy away from talking about those things. Our history is our history, and we have to own that. And we have to talk openly about that. Another thing that in this journey that has happened to us over the last several years, we are building a new high school. And so throughout that, we learned that our current high school, built in the 1950s, was actually built on the site of a family cemetery of a freed slave who settled here and became a blacksmith in our community and a major landowner. And when our current high school was built, all of the people who were buried in that area were literally dug up and put in dump trucks and moved. And this came to our board's attention a number of years ago.
Paul Imhoff (00:16:51):
So we've been working with a whole bunch of folks, including the descendant community of Pleasant Litchford who was the freed slave who was a major landowner here before the official founding of our community. We're doing an archeological dig, even as we speak to determine if there are still remains there, and we're going to be honoring this area, naming a portion of our new high school after this, this family, and again, telling our whole history. So I want to go back, thank you. Now our board. You have to know your whole history and you have to talk about it. But it isn't enough just to talk about it. Our board of education this summer passed an anti racism statement, and lots of people did that, but that's not enough. They also put in place concrete actions.
Paul Imhoff (00:17:47):
So, we are forming a, what is called, an equity advisory board made up of members of our community, our staff, and our students to help guide our work. In addition to that, we are hiring an Executive Director of Diversity and Equity and Inclusion. And we're looking at everything throughout our district. Understand that racism is systemic and all forms of discrimination are systemic. And so what our board is doing is they're taking those things on, and they're demanding that we look at everything from a systems level to make sure that we are focused on each and every student and doing what is right for each and every student, and looking at things through a different lens. I'm going to pause and ask Scott just to weigh in, because again, none of this happens without a great board of education, willing to step up and lead.
Scott McKenzie (00:18:45):
Yeah. So Paul you're absolutely right. The board of education members before me that came before me and myself, I mean, we all had to just like stop and take a look in the mirror and acknowledge that there are acts of racism and prejudice and bias that occur in our schools. And so we committed ourselves to eliminating these experiences, and we're going to try to eliminate the experiences for students, families, and staff. And so, Paul mentioned a lot of things that we have in place. And one of the other things that we've done as a board of education is create a time at every board meeting - monthly board meeting - that we talk about two things. We talk about student safety, and we talk about our DEI initiative. So, that's what has to take place. And I guess I have to say if there are other folks out there that are in school districts that are thinking about this, you know, I guess I would say there are two things that have to be in place for sure in order to get a good foundation and to be successful. And one is a committed Board of Education. And the other is a committed Superintendent. And we are very fortunate to have both here in Upper Arlington.
Paul Imhoff (00:20:10):
And Marc, if you could, I got so excited telling our story, I skipped a slide. So if you could go back a slide. I'm really passionate about the work, and I love talking about this. And so I don't want to miss these points. And as you go through each of these bullet points I really do believe in the bully pulpit. And I believe as superintendents, I believe as principals, I believe as the members of our board of education, we have to use that bully pulpit for good. And I believe that we have to engage in these crucial discussions. One of the things that happened in our district this summer is that our students and former students started an Instagram page and they began to tell their stories about things that have happened to them in our schools.
Paul Imhoff (00:21:00):
And I will tell you, you read these stories and they are heartbreaking. They are heartbreaking. And to think that these things happened in our schools, on my watch, I can't live with that. And so we have to understand, we can't think any of us live in a bubble. We can't think any of these things are not happening here. They are happening in my school and they are happening in your school. And we have to deal with these things. And one of the things that was especially troubling as you read these stories, one of the common themes was they would tell this story. And then they would also say an adult was there, saw it, and did nothing. And I would tell you as leaders, we really have to make it clear to all of the adults in our organizations that each one of us has a sacred responsibility to step up and to take action when we see these things happening and to be in places where we can make sure we are seeing these things happen so we can protect our kids and take action. So one of the things our board of education said is words aren't enough. We have to take action. So we have to take action around systems, as I said, and we have to take action in the moment. And so that third bullet bullet point, every student has to feel a strong sense of belonging. And I will tell you as a lifelong member of the majority culture there were many years I felt like, well, it's pretty good for me. I assume everyone feels the same way. Everyone doesn't feel the same way. And if you really want to know what's going on in your school or in your community, have candid conversations with people who are not a member of the majority culture, and then listen, listen, and then be willing to take action.
Paul Imhoff (00:22:59):
And we are doing those things in our school. And then what I would add for leaders is well that if you're really going to take these things on, it's not going to be popular. There are enormous forces at work that want to keep the status quo the status quo, and want to deny these things are happening and want to deny that these things are a part of our system. So you're going to need to have a thick skin, and you're going to need to be truly dedicated to serving the kids and the staff and our communities. Because this is a tough road. It is a tough road and a tough area to lead in, but I believe it's a moral imperative. Can you tell that we're a little passionate about this?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:23:50):
I can definitely. I'm not in your state right now, but I can feel the passion from New York. Yes.
Marc Stitt (00:23:58):
Anna, any comments from your perspective?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:24:01):
Yeah. I have two children. To anybody that has children that go to school, I mean, obviously those comments that Paul just made and Scott, it really does resonate. I think there's so much happening now with regards to the pandemic, our own personal anxieties, concerns about our lives in general, and then to have it heightened by another layer of what Paul was speaking of. I mean, we all are suffering, I think, from a delusion of stimulus in terms of things that we need to think deeply about. But I think it's wonderful that we are having this discussion now, despite all the other things to heighten the importance of DEI even when everything else is happening at the same time. So, actually, kudos to both Paul and Scott for fighting the good fight, even though there's a lot of other things to contend with with schools reopening and all those other issues that I'm sure we'll talk about later in this discussion.
Marc Stitt (00:25:10):
Yes, thank you all for your comments and what a great summary of leadership from you, Paul. We actually didn't have a question come in, but we had a glowing endorsement of your comments. A person in our audience just loved that narrative and those key takeaways. I didn't want to forget this equity advisory board. I think this is a very interesting thing. Paul or Scott, would one of you'd like to speak to this?
Paul Imhoff (00:25:36):
Well, I'll just jump in. And I think in the UA schools, we're big believers in process. So things don't happen just because we want them to happen and hope is not a strategy. And so what our board of education always does, if they want to drive a meaningful change, then they put a process behind that. And so this board is a very important part of that process. Our new Director of DEI, which I'll talk about a little bit more in just a second is a big part of that process. Then we also have the DEI teams in place in all of our buildings and departments. And where we're starting is gathering real data about the current state. It's about the current state and the desired state.
Paul Imhoff (00:26:27):
And we have to gather data and we have to be accountable and we have to measure. So we are gathering all of that data and we are going to be reporting that out again, bringing experts in the field together again. Again, not a popular thing to be bringing up these things and to share openly that the current state is not perfect. And it is far far from perfect, but the board of education is dedicated to being open and honest. And so another quick point about our journey in this area around process, we had a recommendation in the strategic plan to hire a coordinator of DEI for this year. And so as we started working through that, and we were working with experts in the field, they said, you know what that is nice and that is good, but that's going to be window dressing because in our district, a coordinator is an entry level position in our leadership team. They said, if you really want to drive change at the systems level, you're going to have to hire a senior member in your team who reports directly to the office of the superintendent. So I went back to the board with that and the board said, bring it on if that is the best practice, if that's what the data says, if that's the way to drive change, we are going to do that, think a minute about the courage it takes to add a senior level administrator in the midst of a pandemic. Just think about that for a second. But our board said, this is what's right for kids, and this is what's right for our community. And we're really going to drive this change at the systems level. So I just go back - all of that fits together in hope is not a strategy. You need a well-defined process to really look at things from the systems level, and then to begin to change the systems.
Scott McKenzie (00:28:26):
So, Marc, I'll just add real quickly that this advisory board is going to really assist the board of education and Paul, but the board for sure. And help us ensure that this DEI stays on the front burner. As you mentioned, there are lots of things that are trying to steal our time, but we are going to try to continue to focus on the DEI work and it's not going to be easy. But again, it'll be a huge piece of the puzzle for all of us in Upper Arlington.
Marc Stitt (00:28:58):
Excellent. What I love about the equity and advisory board is it's made up of students, staff members, parents, and different professionals. And I think to your point, Paul, this puts the eyes and ears in different buildings and different things around school, both in school and outside of school to give this new officer and you and the board better optics into what's happening. You can't be everywhere, but with a group like this, you can be a lot further than just one person.
Paul Imhoff (00:29:26):
And Marc I think that's a wonderful point. And I think one of the things we all have to guard against as leaders, is to feel like we have our thumb on the pulse of our communities and that we really understand what everyone's thinking and feeling. And again, I think that sort of an attitude works against us as we are trying to build an inclusive environment. We have to understand that none of us have our finger on that pulse. And we have to actively go out and talk to a diverse group of people and gather data in a systematic way to understand what is truly happening. So Marc your point is excellent and critical to our success.
Marc Stitt (00:30:14):
Thank you. Pivoting now to more higher education. When you think about K-12, the median age would be about 12 years old for a student, but Anna, tell us about what's different in higher education. Are there similarities, are there differences, and what are the state of things?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:30:33):
Sure. Higher education before the pandemic was already facing huge challenges, As I'm sure anyone who has a high schooler looking towards college knows, skyrocketing tuition fees are a very big problem for the majority of families. In the United States tuition between 1980 and 2010, tuition has gone up 1200% within that time frame. And a lot of students who take loans out to go to college are saddled with it for decades paying off those loans. The overall domestic enrollments in the United States have been on a declining trend. Oddly part of that is due to what was pre pandemic, a very robust economy. So a lot of students were opting to work instead of going to school because they want to take advantage of the fact that there were so many opportunities.
New Speaker (00:31:28):
However, obviously the skyrocketing tuition fees and also the idea that maybe that investment would not result in a commensurately high paying job were sort of factors weighing on sentiment in terms of enrolling in colleges and universities. There've been drops in applications in what I would say are traditional success pathway programs, for example, getting an MBA or getting a law degree.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:31:58):
When I was in college, which was quite a long time ago, getting an MBA was almost a sure fire shot to getting a big, high paying job in investment banking. Or getting a law degree, you may become a partner at a prestigious law firm in a big city. However, I think the drops are indicative of a number of things. Number one, tuition is quite high as I mentioned before. Tuition, for example, at Harvard business school, perhaps one of the most elite programs in the United States, if not globally, tuition alone is about 75,000 US dollars. All-in room and board or living expenses is over a hundred thousand dollars. That automatically means that when you graduate, you need to have a job that makes quite a bit of money to make that investment pay off. A law degree is the same thing. The debt that you might take on to get a law degree may not necessarily lead to a job that would make that time, the three years to get a law degree worthwhile. As I mentioned before, the degrees are not necessarily aligned with a workplace that has become increasingly automated.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:33:07):
Also a workplace where tech skills are definitely in demand. The workplace, the skills that employers need from their employees to be competitive is changing so rapidly. It actually might've taken a little bit of a break now because of the pandemic, but prior to that, the automation, self driving cars, AI, all of those were hot button issues. And because it takes so long at universities to adjust academic programs, universities have been unable to keep up with employer demands. There has been an over reliance on international students, particularly from mainland China. International students are considered out of state for public universities, so they pay full tuition. For example, for the University of California public university system. I think that's the biggest in the country. International students make up a large percentage of a number of the UCs - UCLA, UC Berkeley, et cetera -because they do pay full tuition.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:34:13):
And China, because 1.4 billion people live in China, the most populated country in the world, with the rise of the global middle class, even if a very small percentage of that 1.4 billion earns enough money to pursue overseas education for their children, that's a large number of people. So because of what I mentioned earlier, the drops in domestic enrollments, many universities have made up that gap by looking overseas at China and other countries - Brazil, some countries in Africa - to get full tuition, paying students. But considering what's going on now with travel bands, visa problems, et cetera, that dependence has really become quite a weighty issue. And the last bit is the kind of scholarship roulette that universities play. They have high tuition fees partly due to the high spending. They maintain yearly building new dormitories, building new labs to attract students to come to their campuses. They have a high tuition rate price tag. However, there's a lot of negotiating with some students giving them financial aid, giving them scholarships to get them to come knowing that a certain percentage every year will pay full tuition to go to those universities. So that sort of finagling and last minute evening of the landscape is not a practice that is sustainable, especially now when the campuses are closed down. A lot of the provision is now online and students are bulking basically at high tuition without a full campus campus experience. So those are just generally the issues that are many and quite significant that were being faced by higher education before March of this year.
Marc Stitt (00:36:15):
Well, thank you. And I think that pivoting from a DEI lens, it exacerbates what might have been in play, is that correct?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:36:24):
I mean, absolutely. It's important to remember that the problems that higher education is facing with the exception of personal safety concerns for students, faculty, and staff existed prior and are simply being accelerated by the pandemic. The pandemic certainly has shortened the timeline with which universities need to contend with these challenges. The high tuition fees have limited universities mostly to the wealthy, as I mentioned before, when you're talking about fees that cost $40,000 - $50,000 a year for the tuition alone, you automatically eliminate many, many students from that possibility. Even standardized testing, which until recently was a huge hurdle for many students, taking an SAT, taking an advanced placement test. Those all also cost money for families that maybe cannot afford those courses or those possibilities for students.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:37:27):
And that prohibits them from applying to universities. A lot of universities actually have gone test optional regarding the SAT because of the inability to access testing centers during the pandemic. So that, oddly we'll discuss it later, has lowered that barrier to some degree. Women still lag when studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects and those STEM subjects are what can lead to high paying jobs, engineering jobs in one of the Googles Facebooks, those big, very attractive Amazons of the world. But women only, I believe, make up 20% of the graduates of engineering. And even much more importantly, through the DEI lens, black students only make up about if I'm not mistaken 9, sorry, 4% of graduates in STEM subjects, which is just a huge, huge disparity in terms of access to participating in the tech economy.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:38:38):
So, that DEI lens is very important when looking at these at the STEM and engineering programs in the United States. And again, in terms of equity, over 50% of law students are women now, but at the same time, the job market for lawyers is shrinking. Because of the tech disruption, there are many more legal documents that are available online. Ordinary people can do very basic legal tasks that they perhaps were not able to do before they had access to the internet. So, there are more women in that sort of success pathway program, but the market is shrinking and the pathways to partnerships are also becoming much more challenging. So those are generally the challenges that I mentioned, the earliest slides through the DEI kind of perspective.
Marc Stitt (00:39:36):
Thank you, Anna. We start with K-12, then we have higher education, and then when you get to industry, the pool of applicants in play are so poorly diverse, if you will, that DEI initiatives and organizations become that much more challenging because so few have gone forward, right?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:39:59):
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And as I mentioned earlier, it really is about black students having access, or if you're going to succeed in STEM, you need to have that education in your primary school and in secondary school. It's not like you can just start studying that. You can to some degree with support, but it really needs to be reinforced, when they're younger. This also applies to Latin X populations as well. And if you look at tech industries, oddly, a lot of the international graduates have become part of the tech industry because of the international students that I mentioned earlier, studying at US universities. But what happens now with the rhetoric coming out of the federal government in terms of immigration visas, et cetera.
Marc Stitt (00:40:50):
Well, thank you very much. You also just received a glowing endorsement from a professor in the UK who underscored all of your points and sees that in his part of the world and in his university. We need to pivot to best practices and lessons learned across the K-12 spectrum and higher ed spectrum. Anna, can you give us a start on the lessons learned and then Paul and Scott add some color?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:41:18):
Sure. We're still learning many lessons, so maybe this is lessons learned as of August, 2020, but I mean, as a whole with the online pivot that I'm talking from an higher ed perspective, I guess also from education as a whole, education is not very nimble. I mean, it's not that anybody could have anticipated the shutdown of campuses or schools due to a pandemic, but the pivot I can say from higher ed has not been very graceful. And there's a lot of studies going on right now in terms of the quality of education that students received studying at home. But again, access. And maybe Paul and Scott can speak to this, but we're hearing a lot of stats about people not having access to wifi, not having access to laptops or computers, so they couldn't participate in that online delivery.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:42:10):
So the lack of nimbleness, lack of adaptability is very obvious. Again, online learning, I personally believe should be embedded in the regular curriculum. So should something else happen that is so disruptive and we're not blindsided by it, we can pivot much more quickly and address all those issues in terms of access for students who don't have access to wifi or access to laptops. The quality has to be engaging—you can't just do a YouTube video of yourself teaching. It has to be much more engaging for students. Equity in education just means access. It means it should not be divided between the haves and the have nots. Education really is for the greater good of both. I personally feel not only K-12, but also at the university level.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:43:02):
So I think there really has to be a focus on how to make tech more available to a wider population of students. A hybrid model, as I mentioned earlier, to make it more nimble. It's having in-person components and also online components not just during a pandemic, but perhaps just as a regular practice so we can reach a broader array of students. I think Paul and Scott had mentioned that in an earlier slide, that it can't just be from the faculty or just can't be from students—everybody's perspective needs to be included. For all of us to effectively plan, manage, and optimize each part of DEI together and to focus on it as being a priority, even with all the other things that are occupying us right now.
Marc Stitt (00:44:05):
Paul Scott lessons learned?
Scott McKenzie (00:44:08):
Yeah. So, to fill in a little bit for Anna there, she mentioned that we may see some discrepancies in and around Ohio, for sure. You know, in my job at Dynamix, I call on school districts and rural areas of Ohio. And they have some real tough jobs trying to get internet access to kids. It's just one of those situations that is not in a rural area. And I figured probably for many different reasons, but the other issue that they deal with, rurally, is the transportation. Especially if they're planning on doing some type of a hybrid mode of education, bringing in kids with one or two to a seat, transportation is one of the biggest issues that they have, and that just compounds the issue tremendously because of it. So, I just wanted to add those two ideas because it's actually a true problem out there.
Paul Imhoff (00:45:23):
I think I'd just add a couple of things quickly. One of the things I know that's going on now during this time, I agree with Anna and Scott totally, but I know our national associations are advocating for the federal government to step in and to start to take concrete actions to bridge the digital divide. I know that AASA, which is the national superintendents association, has been advocating strongly for this—just that all students have access to the internet much like they would to having power at their house. And how do we make sure that all areas of our country are served with high speed internet and everyone has that access. So I think that has to be a part of our discussion moving forward. I think we need the federal government to step in, in that area and really make sure that we are providing resources just like when we added electricity across our country.
Paul Imhoff (00:46:22):
And just one other quick point, when we talk about equity in education meaning equal access, it also means equal access in K-12 to upper level coursework, which can serve as gateway courses to college and college acceptance. And when you do a deep dive into the data about the availability of those upper level courses for students who are not a part of the majority culture, it paints a picture that shows we have a lot of serious work to do in our country. And this work is going on in school districts across the country, but it has to be broadened. So we're making sure that this upper level coursework is available for every student.
Marc Stitt (00:47:08):
Thank you. There was a question that just came in. It sounds like the individual has a largely white student population in K-12, wants to invest in DEI initiatives, but needs help educating their board. Any advice on how to get the board of education onboard and educated to this? How was this process for you, Scott?
Scott McKenzie (00:47:39):
Well, I would just say, to kind of steal some of your thunder Paul, the first thing to do is just bring it up. Let's take our shields off and sit down and have a real good discussion about the state of DEI in our school district and your school district, and take the blinders off as well. And then move from there. There's a lot of things that we did to get us to this point. And I think those things are out there that you can try as well. Paul, the film series that we participate in—do you remember the name that?
Paul Imhoff (00:48:33):
Yeah, I think Scott is great. And, with his answer, I totally agree with one of the things we did in our board did this, is we brought a film series here to the school district over a several month period. And we did a screening here and it's called "America to me". And it was a documentary film about Oak Park and River Forest High School over the course of a year. And it's an in-depth look at racism in a public school district. And so what it helped us do is to start a conversation. And Scott's right—you just have to start the conversation. And the other thing you have to realize is you're going to have people come in saying, well, those things don't happen here, or I don't see color. Is that something you hear a lot? And one of the things I think is powerful is you have to start telling people the real stories, there's power in story. And so, when you talk about racism for instance, that is something some people just don't want to talk about, but when you tell the story of a specific child, that is when it starts to get real. So as you start the conversations, lean into story and tell stories about specific kids and stories that are actually happening, and I think that'll help push this work forward.
Marc Stitt (00:49:54):
Great answers. We will be including a link for those of you attending. We'll put out, put out a recording as well as some resources. And we will include that video series that you just mentioned. We're running a little bit short on time here at the end, but I wanted to summarize, you know, the current pandemic, right? We're in the middle of it. When you think about DEI initiatives, what's been kind of the good news and bad news on its impact. Scott, you want to take this one?
Scott McKenzie (00:50:24):
Yeah. And I'll be as quick as I can. Even during the pandemic, I think that school districts across our nation are moving forward, DEI snowball has gained enough speed as Paul mentioned, and I don't think it can be stopped. So, we ought to get ready and, and start moving with that. Another good thing that has happened during the pandemic is social media has changed our lives even more. And it's become the go-to mode of expression. Paul mentioned that the Instagram posts that our students are doing, and I know we're not the only school district. And so I think our students are having a voice more than ever. And that third bullet point, even in our own spaces at home while we are physically distanced, we all have had more time to reflect on our lives and how we interact with others.
Scott McKenzie (00:51:30):
And then, I'll just move onto the bad. Unfortunately, many of us in the educational setting seem to be reacting to the latest rulings from our governors and our health departments. And it's giving us little time to think about other things. So we have to keep that in mind. Families are struggling. Lots of families are struggling with basic needs like food to eat and how to keep the electric on and how to get the rent paid. And without basic needs. I think it's hard to deal with more thoughtful issues like DEI. And then finally, many of us do not have the social interactions personally that we used to have, and many of us are craving more. So those are three of the things that I thought of that were kind of negatives with the pandemic.
Marc Stitt (00:52:30):
Just really exacerbating some of the tough things, but maybe giving light to reflection and time to reconsider. Anna from a higher ed perspective. What are your thoughts on the good and the bad around the pandemic?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:52:45):
Well, the good is a focus on online learning can broaden access in terms of people not having to physically be on campus–that they can work and learn at the same time or that they can live far away from a university and still access education. The test optional trend that I mentioned before, an example of the UC system, the Ivy league, they do not require the SAT for applicants for the next academic year. So that has removed the obstacle for students who could not afford, or did not feel like they could take that test. Also universities like Princeton and a number of historically black colleges and universities as well are offering tuition discounts. So that, to be honest with you, for most people, it doesn't make what is unaffordable affordable, but it does indicate that they are acknowledging the financial duress that families, as Scott had mentioned, that families are under in terms of affording an education even in the best of times.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:53:51):
The bad, and there's plenty as you know, the spring semester has caused disruption for universities and colleges across the country. As a matter of fact, around the world. Little did we know how dependent universities have been on dorm fees and meal plans because a lot of it was the reimbursement of those fees to students that have caused huge financial losses for universities. And some students are actually suing universities to get partial reimbursements on their tuition because they went from in-person classes to online delivery. Students as well, to be caught mid semester in mid March and sent home in a matter of days, is very disruptive for their academic success. And the uncertainty going into the fall is also very stressful for many young people around the world. As we mentioned earlier, the decline in family financials means that colleges, universities are just generally less affordable. Students may opt to work to support themselves and their families.
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:54:56):
Many students have gone back to live at home, many young people, as a matter of fact have gone back to live at home because the future is so uncertain. So that may result in a decline in enrollments. And the limited access to safe homes. I don't know the numbers exactly, but there have been students living on university campuses that didn't want to go home because their homes were unsafe and they also didn't have tech access. And some universities did make generous provisions for those students to remain on campus even during the pandemic. So, those four are just generally the bad, of which there are many, many more. And as we look into the fall with all the uncertainties, I'm sure that list may increase.
Marc Stitt (00:55:43):
Gotcha. So again, some good and bad here with the pandemic, but hopefully we can focus on the good, both in K-12 and higher ed and move those things forward while continuing to work on the obstacles. I'll give you a few more minutes to ask any questions in your chat window, but I just want to summarize a few things in terms of the roles of facilities and operations, and I'll join you Scott in this. What role does it play? Our buildings, our facilities, our campuses—what are some of the key things that we need to be looking out for?
Scott McKenzie (00:56:20):
And Marc, my company has come up with a whole list of things that every school district and maybe even higher ed can take care of as far as when getting students back to the classroom and also in areas where there may be a positive case of COVID-19. So, some of these things that cost you nothing are outdoor air percentage increasing, optimizing your HVAC and improving your air filtration systems. I have a company wide brochure that just lists those areas. Maybe I could include that in the notes as well, and I won't have to go through all of those here today, but Dynamix is just one of those companies. There are many, and I'm sure you could find some folks to help you with that.
Marc Stitt (00:57:23):
Wonderful, thank you. I think as far as keeping everything on schedule and everyone informed, Scott spoke to cleaning and sanitization—having a single system for everyone across the district or across the campus to really understand what's happening, managing transportation technology, and anything written regarding safety and efficiency—all these things are paramount and really create a very equitable situation for our students across the district and across the campuses. And that's really why FMX wanted to bring you this today. We're a leading provider of facilities and maintenance management solutions that help organizations accelerate operational excellence. We work with our school district customers, as well as universities, to streamline processes, increase asset productivity and turn actionable insights into meaningful results. We're fortunate to serve hundreds of organizations around the world, again, both in K-12, as well as higher education. And again, try to provide that clean, safe, and equitable environment for those students. So on behalf of FMX andDynamix Energy Services, thank you so much for attending today. Thank you to our presenters, to Paul, to Anna, to Scott, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedules to be with us. Thank you for your insightful comments and most of all, thank you for leading. Any closing comments while I look for remaining questions?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:59:05):
Paul or Anna, Scott?
Anna Esaki-Smith (00:59:22):
Hopeful that once the pandemic passes, whenever that might be, that we'll just have a heightened focus on all the issues that we're talking about. Now, I feel like maybe the fact that we're sort of in an odd way that we're all at home and not so distracted by life, just in general, going out and seeing your friends, et cetera, that maybe that is giving us. I mean, this is kind of maybe a strange thing to say, but I just feel like we're just being more thoughtful. We just think more because we're not as stimulated in terms of all the other things that you do in your life. So I'm hopeful that education may be a beneficiary of this sort of thoughtful, although very challenging period for so many. I think a lot more about all these issues, because I'm just sitting in front of my computer so much and worrying about the safety of all these students and faculty and teachers and all the discussions about reopening and the importance of education. I mean, education is going to be more important than ever once the pandemic passes in terms of the economic growth of the United States and other countries. So I don't mean to sound too profound about it, but I think a lot more about things much more profoundly since things have happened.
Marc Stitt (01:00:51):
Well said. We had a question come in and Paul, maybe you or Scott could answer this one—when I mentioned a single system, like FMX, working in a school district, what are the main benefits of that single system? Would one of you like to speak to that?
Scott McKenzie (01:01:10):
As superintendent in Groveport Madison, I might've been the first customer of the FMX product. So I can remember the first time I saw it. We were a paper and pencil district that if you had something wrong with your HVAC system, you filled out a piece of paper and sent it into maintenance. So that's archaic at the moment, but now just having everything at your fingertips at once—maintenance tickets, scheduling of classrooms and cleaning of classrooms during the COVID and scheduling field trips and that kind of thing—all that in one place has been quite honestly, a godsend for Groveport Madison. And we've been utilizing it now for almost 10 years. It's just really important to be able to have that. And as Anna just said, you've got a lot of things to think about. I mean, a lot of things. And so this is not one of them. It's not rocket science, just get in there and find yourself something that you feel comfortable using and utilize this one system.
Marc Stitt (01:02:41):
Thank you. Paul? Any comments?
Paul Imhoff (01:02:43):
I totally agree with my boss. Yes.
Marc Stitt (01:02:47):
Thank you. And thank you for being a customer at Upper Arlington Schools. With that, that's our program for today. I hope you all enjoyed it. We are going to send out an email with the recording of this. I encourage you to connect with our speakers, leverage our resources. We're going to have various links and resources that you can engage in, including the series that Paul spoke to and some information that Scott mentioned. And we encourage you to talk with the experts here at FMX. We have decades of experience working with school districts, with universities, on different initiatives. So with that, thank you all very much for joining today. Thank you again to our speakers and have a great day.