Equity is both a buzzword and very needed in education (and society) today. I wish we could snap our fingers and fix things! But years and years of systems and personal biases cannot be done in a day, week, or even a year. Rather, it is deep work that starts with awareness and often comes one step, one #EquityWin at a time. Sometimes there are wins and sometimes there aren't, but we have to keep pressing! Below are a couple of snapshots from my past two weeks at work.
Last week, I was so frustrated when it felt like some people in my district were designing systems that put up barriers that would prevent the families who need us the most from accessing certain supports. The most discouraging thing was the lack of understanding from the people I was talking with. I know it wasn't an intentional desire to make things hard for these families, it was a lack of understanding about the reality that they faced and how challenging it is. I don't pretend to fully understand it either, but I did want to share my concerns.
Sometimes I think that these concerns are taken much more seriously when they come from our equity team, or our team that focuses on culturally & linguistically diverse learners. But why? We all need to own this work! In the end, some (not all) of the barriers were removed.
I received an email from a teacher who was thinking about using a certain song in their class, and a student had put in the chat, "That song is racist." After some research, they concluded that there was no major racist history to the song (although there have been some questionable uses of it in the past), but it was clear that a student did not feel good about it. This teacher was looking for advice about how to handle it and if they should still use this song.
This gets so complicated so quickly in the world of music history! We engaged in some great email dialogue, with several people chiming in, and ultimately the teacher decided to move away from this song out of a desire to be sensitive to the student. What I loved was that the teacher was able to make their own decision after weighing all of the perspectives, and ended the email saying that they felt so supported. This is the deep, internal work of equity -- not just being told what is or isn't appropriate, but learning, growing, and expanding perspectives to be more responsive to all of our students.
We don't always have these wins, and in fact, I had a situation later in the week that was the exact opposite (I will not share it here out of respect for those involved). I feel like this is the way it goes...two steps forward, one step back. When policies and systems are changed for the better, we should all celebrate! Yet equally as important are those subtle, personal, internal changes that happen every day. Today, I'm choosing to celebrate these "small" #EquityWins and to continue looking for more of these every day. Added together, they will change the world!