Standing in the Discomfort on the Road to Equity in Education, August 2017

David Addams, Executive Director

As we are two years into our new Mission, we are quite often asked, “What have you learned and where is it taking you?” Two years into college, a major is chosen in order to focus on what the rest of the learning journey is going to look like. Although the major is still too early to tell, lots of the learning has forced us to look in the mirror. Paying attention to our intentionality regarding equity to provide a clear frame for the work in education is key.

 

All too often, equity is diluted or dumbed down as merely giving data greater attention. Head counts and tests scores are no substitute for the full sense of how education can be made to truly fulfill its potential as a leveler and empowering force field. Many advocates for equity have begun to ask the question, “Would YOU trade places?” or “Is it good enough for your children? And, if not, why should it be good enough for someone else’s children?”

 

As we seek ways we can support the children with the least resources and advantages in their journey to fulfill their potential, we ask what has been holding back or impeding that from happening. Our historical and social analyses say that race and class still play huge roles in determining how resources are distributed and who succeeds and who does not. Although disadvantaged families and communities have been navigating these obstacles and overcoming them for generations (if not centuries), we ask do they have to do so forever.

 

Is there some way that the systems and communities can work well for every child? How do we work towards such a way of living, governing, educating and community building? Lots of answers are emerging through the work of grantees and partnerships with other funders and community activists who are on board as Equity Fellows.

 

Learning is easier than making much sense of what you have learned. As we begin to make sense, we are uncovering more questions and looking for more partners in our educational journey. Lifelong learning is not meant to be a solo affair. As students, we are ready for the teachers who appear in every form (youth, educators, community leaders, funders, scholars, etc.). Over the last year, we have supported community organizing and equity training programs, participated in Justice Literacy sessions in house, Community Conversations around the state, national conference experiences with grantees, and invited communities and residents of Connecticut to explore ways of inspiring their fellow citizens to work towards greater equity.

 

As we said a year ago, “Equity work includes increasing awareness, deepening understanding, and taking actions, particularly at the institutional and structural levels.” As we develop our action agenda, we welcome feedback, criticism and support. Openness is our secret power. Let us know what you are learning, how we can support equity in education in your community and why you are so committed to doing so.

 

Thanks for reading this, thinking and, most importantly, for the efforts any of you take to make our educational system and environment more free and fair.

 

Always, David Addams