Dr. Dana T. Bedden is the Superintendent of Schools for the Centennial School District.
PEDC’s mission is to increase the diversity of the educator workforce & create a culturally relevant and sustaining education system here in PA. How do you push this work forward in your personal and/or professional capacity?
In June of 2022, I recommended, and the CSD school board adopted an Educational Equity Policy with the purpose of:
Promptly identifying and addressing barriers that cultivate achievement and/or opportunity gaps for students.
Implementing policies, practices, and regulations to best ensure student success is not predetermined or predicted by factors such as but not limited to race, socio-economic status, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, linguistic diversity, religion, or learning differences.
Additionally, as part of that policy, as Superintendent, I am expected to:
Provide resources, materials, and assessments that reflect the demographics of the District’s students and are geared toward the understanding and appreciation of individual cultural uniqueness and differences.
Recruit, retain, and support a responsive workforce that reflects the demographics of the Centennial School District.
We are also required to provide an educational equity update to the Board that reflects the efforts undertaken and progress made to achieve the goals of the policy.
Have you worked on any projects or initiatives that positively impact the recruiting, mentoring, retaining, or promoting the well-being of BIPOC teachers? If so, how?
We are currently diversifying our recruitment efforts related to the location. Recently we used billboards showing our workforce's diversity. The effort also included partnering with local businesses to advertise within their establishments, such as the grocery stores that serve our Spanish, Russian, and Ukrainian communities.
Our retention efforts have included completing an employee compensation study that evaluated our internal equity, external competitiveness, and salary ranges using eight compensable factors.
Some of our retention efforts included but are not limited to our recent efforts to address our staff's social-emotional, physical, and mental well-being; we recently entered into an MOU agreement with the YMCA that provides free membership opportunities. Our partnership agreement with a local urgent care center provides pre-negotiated wellness plans and fixed-priced occupational health services. We added a dedicated staff member (Social-Emotional and Academic Learning Coordinator) who provides support and training to our staff related to SEL.
Why are you passionate about increasing educator diversity?
Ultimately, we are focused first and foremost on ensuring our students have the best possible staff member working with them and recognizing diversity is more than about race. However, studies show that diversity in education improves the “intellectual engagement, self-motivation, citizenship, and cultural engagement, and academic skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing – for students of all demographics.
Dr. Bedden participating in the National Education Summit Co-Sponsored by CSD
What challenges are you experiencing in this work?
Are there any regional (or statewide) specific challenges you are facing?
What are some of your needs?
Like most school districts in the state and nation, the number of people who are considering education as a career choice continues to decline. The pipeline of potential teachers and support staff continue to decrease, which means we have a supply issue with increasing demands.
We need an increase in the available workforce for both teachers and support staff (ex: bus drivers, food service workers, etc.). We need increased funding & more equitable funding for public education from the state to level the playing field so that a student’s zip code (local property wealth) does not become a determining factor in the quality of education the student gets or resources available to the staff to serve the students. We need more mental and physical health providers available to serve our students and staff.
Are you affiliated with any other organizations working towards addressing the recruiting, mentoring, retaining, or promoting the wellbeing of BIPOC teachers?
AASA, PASA, NABSE, Bucks IU, PDE, PSBA, PEDC, Leading Now, etc.
Dr. Bedden serving as a Mystery Reader in a CSD first-grade
Have you used any of the PEDC available resources & toolkits? If so, how?
I have been reviewing and discussing with our team the information included in the Recruitment Toolkit and Retention Toolkit.
How can people connect with you and continue to follow your work?
YouTube: CSD's 2022 Year in Review