In his blog post “The Ideal Institution: Pursuing Racial Equity in Schools,” my fellow youth council member Asquith Clarke II identifies a root issue of inequity and prejudice in schools: validating the myth of race theory and perpetuating white supremacy through distorted history curricula. Asquith is right. In addition to the damaging curricula that promote American excellence with the incomplete histories of ethnic and other minorities, racial inequity takes shape in a number of ways in the public school system. It goes beyond curricula and individual teachers, and circles back to the federal, state, and local policy scenes, and all of our communities. Schools are places of learning, seen by many as a chance to share positive values with youth, and prepare them for civic and adult life. This means equity in the public school system- access to quality education- matters for everyone. La Convivencia ultimately aims to promote coexistence in every aspect of our community. Education access and equity is a precursor to that coexistence. So, in addition to Asquith’s opposition to race theory as it is taught in history classrooms across the country, here are proposals we can support on a broad scale and in our own communities in pursuit of education equity:
Support equity training (and its costs) for educators at all levels of the education system, and expect and demand modeled behavior from administrators. Part of this is accepting that discomfort is a necessary part of achieving equity. Educators and the community at large must abandon comfort zones in order to reevaluate racist and unequal behaviors and policies (Learning to Lead for Racial Equity).
Support practice-based, not mission-based social justice. When social justice is left to a mission statement, outcomes are at the discretion of individual policymakers, administrators, and teachers. Everyone has biases, and they will be especially evident in a mission-based institution (Lisa R. English).
Reevaluate gifted and talented programs. Seek solutions to the underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic students in these programs and other advanced courses. Consider whether other students lack attention and resources at the expense of maintaining gifted and talented programs (The Journal of Minority Achievement Creativity and Leadership).
Question hiring practices. Students of color learn better from teachers of color, but hiring processes are often rooted in a complex cycle of access to education and opportunities. We can promote policies that seek to improve student performance and school environment by hiring teachers who share backgrounds with their students (Western Governors University).
These ideas are not specific to K-12 schools or even public education, but discussions about education equity are relevant to everyone, because public schools are tax-payer funded community institutions. All institutions and organizations should be pursuing equity and revisiting their approach to it regularly. Engaging in these processes brings our greater communities one step closer to true coexistence.
Join the CommUnity
La Convivencia P. O. Box 331 Princeton Junction, NJ 08550