Equity. People may approach this term from different lenses: race, gender, class, ability, language. Educational equity encompasses all of these aspects. I think it’s important to be specific in our language when we discuss equity - what kind of equity are we talking about? It doesn’t have to be the same each time, but when we’re examining a particular equity issue, don’t be vague. Call it out!
Looking at the data alone, it’s evident educational equity includes several intersecting elements of student identity such as: race, ability, language, class, and gender. National graduation rates indicate we are under-serving and often actively marginalizing Black and Brown students, students with IEPs, students new to the English language, and low-income students (National Center for Educational Statistics). In the US, Black girls are disproportionately targeted for disciplinary action even for adherence to sexist and racist school dress codes ("Black girls in US pushed out of school over racist and sexist school dress codes, report finds"). The vast majority of transgender students (75.1%) feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression, and 63.4% of transgender students avoid bathrooms (Gender Spectrum).
If you’re thinking, “This is great, but I just don’t have time for this!” First, I hear you—time is scarce! Second, I would argue at least recognizing the educational inequity that exists and starting to consider how your school may be unknowingly reproducing inequity is critical to our work of educating all children and helping them be responsible, equitable leaders in school and throughout their lives.
So, where do we start? I’m going to share 2 things you can do that are foundational to equity work. I’ll share more later, but these 2 are BIG, so it’s more than enough work to get started!
Again, this is tough work. So, here’s a few quick tips from my own journey...
This work, although difficult, is one of the most powerful investments you can make in your practice as an educator. Recognize the extent and forms of educational inequity, and talk to others about it. Commit to doing the self-work. Later this week, I’ll share some concrete ideas for improving equitable practice in your schools. We can re-make the systems that were designed to reproduce inequity!
Have educational equity related questions?
In the meantime, continue to think big, act brave, and be your best self.
Lindsay is a educator and leadership coach who helps teachers develop engaging project-based curricula, fosters student and teacher voice, and works to advance racial and gender equity and culturally responsive practice.