What is Educational Equity Doing?

scales balancing educationEducational Equity AKA Equity in Education:

Defined as fairness, opportunity, and measure of achievement in education according to the indomitable wikipedia. The idea of educational equity is much more nebulous than the wiki definition. According to some scholars equity in education is most significantly influenced by race and class. Others cite gender and socio-economics. Language diversity. Religion. Sexuality. Rural vs metropolitan areas. Regardless of which area viewed as the “most” influential, I think educators can agree that all children deserve the advantages they need to graduate from high school and either succeed in college or find competitive employment opportunities. So what are the resources needed to give all children the opportunities they need to meet this goal?

  • Qualified Teachers, Principals and Other Personnel
  • Suitable, Up-to-Date Curricula
  • Additional Resources for “At-Risk” Youth
  • Resources for Youth with Additional Needs (Disabilities, English Language)
  • Class Size/Group Size
  • Safe Environment
  • Facilities that are Accessible and Adequate
  • Books, Media Center, Technologies and Other Supplies (Desks etc)

How many? What type? The Equity Campaign found deficiencies in 28 out of 33 schools in their study. Those were based on state (NY) minimum requirements. That the state minimum requirements have become the maximum that students can expect in some schools is pretty terrible. And that assumes state minimums actually achieve educational equity. Not only are the minimum violated, but these basic requirements do not sufficiently meet the needs to provide students the opportunity to meet standards for a high school graduation that leads to college or career readiness.

Oregon, my home state, also struggles with how to build an equitable educational system. Senate Bill 253 requires that all adults in Oregon will have a high school diploma or equivalent by 2025. Sounds great. Wait? 2025? The Bill also says that 40% of adults will have an associate’s degree or another postsecondary certificate and another 40% will have a bachelor’s or other advanced degree. Just in case you are worried that the 20% without a college degree will be those who are already treated inequitably – the Bill stipulates a 40-40-20 representation of every student in Oregon. People of color should, if the Bill achieves the goals set out in it, attain 40% bachelor or higher degrees, 40% associates, and 20% high school diploma or the equivalent. Great goal but are they going to achieve all this?

There is still a disportionality in terms of people of color receiving fewer opportunities. Social opportunity plays a big part in educational opportunity. The Oregon Investment Board discusses implementing more culturally responsive teaching practices but how will they provide the educator development to meet these goals. A young person in second-grade today is supposed to graduate high school under this 40-40-20 ratio. Have their teachers received the training they need to make this happen? Have class sizes shrunken appropriately? Is the curricula up to date?

Cornell West said, “A fully functional multiracial society cannot be achieved without a sense of history and open, honest dialogue.” I would love to join the educational equity dialogue world-wide and seek to make the substantive changes within explicit, implicit, and hidden curriculums. Why does the bell ring have more significance than immersion in a learning opportunity? What are the root causes of disparity attributed to race, class, language, and other societal and institutional barriers? How can we make school culture visible so that all stakeholders can look to implement a culturally responsive culture. What needs to happen to help educators adapt their discourse and perspective to the ideal of equitable education?

I think about these issues a lot. Usually in the context of LGBTQ educational equity. Typically people can agree on the need for the big picture to change. As we dive into the specifics, educators, policy makers, parents, and others start to argue about what suitable curricula look like. Whether class size really matters. Financial constraints. What composes a qualified school administrator or teacher. I might say an LGBTQ identified educator provides invaluable mentorship to LGBTQ youth. Another educator immediately disagree and suggest such a member of the educational team is not needed. I have witnessed a faculty agree that hiring more diverse candidates is the priority during a hiring cycle only to discard the resumes of people of color. The discourse, therefore, needs to be reflective and continual.

Whether conflicts center around behavior, work habits, pedagogical ideas, policies, or practices, to attain educational equity for a school requires school leaders and educators to build trust and healthy collaboration. Relationships are critical to the work of schools. Student-teacher, teacher-teacher, teacher-administrator, all the relationships are important for building and maintaining a school climate conducive to equity in education according to the National School Climate Council. In this, questioning the systemic causes of disparities amongst students, schools have the opportunity to attain greater equity.

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The Brainwaves Video

The BrainWavesBob Greenberg has been doing a series of videos called The Brainwaves. In this series Mr. Greenberg, a retired educator, asks educators to provide an interview. He does very little to find out what people are going to talk about. His coaching is also minimal. The result is a video where educators really get a chance to talk about their passion. Some of the names of people he has interviewed are huge in education and educational politics. Some…well…I only have two subscribers to my YouTube channel so there are those of us who are not so big. In his interview series, though, we are all equals.

Check out his channel and my recent interview embedded below!

 

A Lecture Response: Promoting Justice by Dr. Jacqueline Temple

Tonight I was privileged to attend the retirement presentation of one of our faculty at Portland State University. She spoke on inclusion and her experiences with thought leaders throughout her career. As a consummate educator she provided question prompts on each table and had us respond and ask those questions.

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She shared personal stories of her own lived experience as a person of color. Her travails as a women of color pursuing a life in academia might seem like fantastical stories from ancient history to students today. Her ethnography documents momentous changes in our society but also illuminates how much further we have to go.

She defined Inclusion and Diversity:

Platforms for critical conversations and courageous actions across differences that are pervasive… Where diverse knowledge, experiences, histories, and cultures are affirmed.

She also described obstacles to inclusion:

Push back: the space between the ‘talk and walk’

She went on to describe her framework for inclusion as something that looks different wherever you go. It is situational. Not only this, but it is knowledge dependent. She defined knowledge on the institutions, people within them, community, students, parents, and policy makers.

Too many children have been marginalized.

Education depends on inclusion and diversity. Our curriculum, whether textbooks or lesson plans or another artifact, must be examined closely. Referring to Paulo Freire Dr. Temple discusses how she wants more than integration but participation that leads to transformation.

During her Fulbright experience she worked in Finland on their burgeoning needs related to diversity. Her scholarly inquiry there became both an expiration outside but also introspection around her own life.

From visiting a K market and discovering challenges unknown:

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To living overseas during the attacks on the World Trade Towers and Pentagon – worrying for her daughter in Washington DC:

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Through this experience she found herself othered and yet accepted. This led to literacy programs between two elementary schools in both countries. Two multi-lingual schools exchanging thoughts, ideas, and people.

Dr. Temple ended her talk with thank you in several languages and asked for our reflections. It was a somber, informative and transformative retirement experience.

Emerging Leader Award is Popular at my School…

A screenshot of the article.The emerging leader award is popular at my school. They decided to feature the award in the school of ed’s blog. While the interview was fun and strange emails I am getting scare me just a titch!

Despite my embarrassment regarding the attention I am excited about the opportunity to go to Washington DC. If I can leverage this visit towards grants for my research in games for education and general leverage for curriculum design I will be happy. There is also a secondary set of interests. I have joined Portland State University’s School of Ed’s Curriculum and Instruction’s LGBTQ Advocacy Task Force. We are looking for ways to support teacher candidates, students and others in the schools who identify somewhere along the LGBT (and QIA) spectrum. Personally this is very satisfying work and I hope to hear other’s perspectives in DC and throughout the year.

 

Being Human

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I was talking with a colleague yesterday about how we find articles discussing the best ways to improve this or that social inequity in education. The research describes such artificial constructs and we were both left irritated at the lack of attention to being human. Personally, and lacking research to back this, you can employ all the constructs you want but you cannot achieve equity if people are not treated well. The secretary who smiles at everyone entering the school does more for equity than the contract with the interpreter.

Go ahead…walk into a school where you are ignored or even scowled at….see if you even want to ask about services.

Riding with Rosa Parks to ISTE

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Today on my way into ISTE I sat with a seat dedicated to Rosa Parks. It has set my thought towards issues of equity this morning. When I return to Portland in the morning I will need to work on two papers concerned with these issues. One relates to digital tools and the other to broader implications. The question I am going to focus on today is: how can I build games for learning that address social, cultural, and ability inequities?

To lighten the mood, my selfie yesterday:

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