In Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS), there are more than 1,800 students who identify as African American or Black. Inclusion is a core value for our district, and we are proud of the work of each and every one of our students.

During the past several years, SKPS has worked to bring equity and student voice to the forefront of district initiatives. With the development of the Office of Student Equity Access and Advancement, students from all different backgrounds are getting the additional support success. According to data recently released by the Oregon Department of Education, Black and African American Students had the biggest jump in graduation rates for the class of 2019, improving 19 percentage points from the previous year.

“This is no coincidence,” said Director of Student Equity, Access and Achievement Cynthia Richardson about the increased graduation rates. “Our community outreach specialists work tirelessly to foster a sense of belonging for our historically underserved populations while working one-on-one with students to remove barriers to success. Coupled with the move districtwide to grow our culturally relevant teaching with equitable, diverse and inclusive practices, we are turning the dial on achievement for our children.”

This month, we will be honoring the great contributions African American leaders have made in the lives of our students and staff. We reached out to our students and educators to share their thoughts on Black History. We’ll be sharing those videos throughout the month on our district social media channels.