Monday, December 18, 2017
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City sets goals to foster unity

The need for more diversity in Malden classrooms and at City Hall are among the key takeaways from the three community forums on race and diversity held last fall. The city released a report on the Community ’N Unity series of dialogs, which were organized by Mayor Gary Christenson’s office and the Boston-based consulting group, Strategy Matters, LLC.

The three meetings drew crowds of 75 to 120 officials and residents who shared their experiences and views on race and diversity within the city and its neighborhoods. The talks generated a list of community goals and strategies, including bolstering diversity among school and city employees as well as elected officials.

According to the team of consultants who worked with the city to organize and run the forums, participants felt that equal access to influence and power would ease racial tension within the city. “Participants repeatedly asserted that for real change to happen, the city needs to find ways to diversify its staff and officials,” explained the consulting team.

The report cited efforts within the school district to increase diversity among teachers and staff. State statistics show that more than 90 percent of the teachers and staff in Malden schools are white while roughly 69 percent of the students are Asian, African-American or Hispanic.

Last month, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Grandson, school principals and administrators attended a career fair sponsored by the New England Minority Network or Nemnet, a national recruiting firm launched to help school districts find job candidates who will bring more diversity into the district. The Harvard Graduate School of Education is also lending a hand through its Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools, or RIDES project, which works to promote diversity in local schools.

On the City Hall side, the Human Resources Department is planning cultural competency and awareness training for all city employees, and the newly formed Mayor’s Task Force on Racial Harmony is developing its own set of goals and strategies.

The broader, long-term goal of increasing diversity among the city’s appointed and elected officials has also been highlighted repeatedly. The issue has been brought up at both the Community ’N Unity meetings and the recent forums hosted by consultants working on the city’s building moratorium study.

Two Candidate Bootcamps, which were sponsored by the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, were held in Malden over the past couple of months. The meetings were organized to help anyone interested in running for local office understand the responsibilities of different positions and the nuts and bolts of campaigning.

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