Being bold and speaking out against educational inequity will require courageous conversations

Breaking the cycle of educational inequity

Being bold and speaking out against educational inequity will require courageous conversations

While gaps in technology access were highlighted during the pandemic, many school and district leaders are trying to make strides with an even older issue: battling educational inequity for children of all races and economic backgrounds.

In the edWebinar “Leading for Equity: Pursuing an Equity Agenda,” Dr. Frank Barnes, Chief Equity and Accountability Officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), and Kimberly Vaught, Principal, Allenbrook Elementary School, discussed their approach to building equity.

Related content: How equity strategies improve student outcomes

The equity initiative for CMS is based on its report, Breaking the Link. Originally published in 2018, it discussed the historical basis for education disparities as well as data points that could reliably predict student success. In the 2019 report, the authors examined three “levers” that could break the predictive outcomes and lead to higher achievement for all students: great teachers, time (instructional hours), and access to advanced coursework.

However, in order for the district to succeed, they first had to gather data and have what Dr. Barnes called courageous conversations.

Understand the history of educational inequity in your state and district. Dr. Barnes observed that administrators can’t begin to address inequity if they don’t understand the causes. On a national level, for instance, the Coleman Report (1966) found achievement gaps were based in racist policies and systemic inequity that had persisted for decades. But more important to Dr. Barnes, not a single member of the Carolinian delegation voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In other words, historically, elected officials then didn’t want to address educational inequity and didn’t offer schools support in his district. Thus, some of those disparities exist in the schools today.

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