Discussion Areas for equity
As part of any program
to eradicate inequity it will be necessary for educators to have extensive
discussions on needed changes in practices and policies and to develop
strategies to achieve desired changes. This must be done in conjunction
with or following BUT NOT PRECEDING developing alliances and understanding
through personal stories in order that the strategies are grounded in
deep personal understanding. Eight areas that require discussion
and some starting questions for each area are below.
- Does the decontextualization
of subjects (subjects being taught outside of a meaningful context and/or
not connected to students culture or experience) affect students
- Does the curriculum represent
the contributions of all people (women and people of color, for example)?
- Are there accurate historical
accounts of shameful periods of U.S. History (slavery, the treatment
of Native Americans, the internment of Japanese-Americans, anti-Semitism,
the eugenics movement, for example)?
- Are students reading literature
written by females and people of color?
Culture of students in a school
- Are there faculty role models
for students? How does it affect a student of color if most of the teachers
he/she sees are white?
- Do students talk with other
student respectfully about important issues?
- Can students talk with each
other about their problems? with teachers?
- How much harassment and
teasing (of female students, of students of color, of gay students for
example) is going on in the school?
- Are there friendships in
the school across racial and class lines?
- Are students of color in
positions of leadership?
- How do people explain the
disproportionate failure/success by students of color, language-minority
students, students from low economic classes?
- When equity issues are raised,
do teachers say, "Weve already dealt with that" or "I
dont see color"?
- Is there safety in the
district to talk about sensitive issues such as racism, sexism, or homophobia?
Are adults working to overcome their own biases?
- Do counselors understand
how oppression works in our society?
- Do educators from different
racial backgrounds communicate with each other? Are there friendships
in the school across racial lines?
- Are teachers of color respected?
Are they in positions of leadership?
- Do bilingual teachers have
as much power in the school as regular teachers?
- How do teachers feel about
their jobs? How does teacher morale affect students school experiences?
- How does the pressure at
the state and district level to improve test scores affect the way educators
relate to students?
- Is the atmosphere of the
school one of respect for students? How do teachers talk about students
in the faculty room? What are their expectations? What kind of relationships
do they have with students?
- Are parents of students
of color and English language learners present in school events and
school board meetings? Are they represented on committees and on the
school board? Do they feel they have a voice in the school and are respected
members of the school community?
- Are translators always present
at school meetings?
- Do teachers have professional
development about relating to parents of different cultural backgrounds?
Do teachers make an effort to support all parents' participation in
their children's education (especially recent immigrants, parents of
color, and parents from low socioeconomic classes)?
- Which parents have the most
influence in the school?
- Does the scheduling of parent-teacher
conferences discriminate against parents who have to work during the
- Are schools connected to
the community in which they reside?
- How does the assessment
system being used affect the achievement of students from under represented
- How does the emphasis on
raising test scores affect students from under represented groups?
- Are high stakes (including
gifted/talented and placement) tests available in languages other than
School and district policies (including counseling
and professional development)
- How do counseling practices
affect student self-perception, performance? How are tracking policies
affecting students success?
- Does professional development
at the school provide opportunities for educators to talk about the
biases they encountered growing up and how that affects them? About
how race, class, and gender bias affects teaching and learning? Are
these issues treated in depth?
- Are teachers feeling empowered
in planning and conducting their professional development?
- Are English language learners
receiving adequate support for learning academic subjects or is the
emphasis on increasing reading scores impeding their learning of other
- Are high level math and
science classes taught bilingually or with sheltered methods?
- Do the most experienced
and better-qualified teachers teach the classes with a disproportional
high number of white or affluent students?
- What is the ethnic distribution
of teachers within the district?
- How are resources allocated
to different schools within the district? Do schools with the most needy
students also have the least experienced teachers and worst equipment?
- Does the district and school
leadership emphasize equity and practice what they preach? Are administrators
providing both intellectual and emotional support to teachers for changing
unequal success rates? Do teachers of color report having difficulty
with one or more administrators?
- Do administrators and school
boards support teachers attempts to implement new curriculum or
pedagogical approaches that provide access to the curriculum for more
students? Do they provide encouragement for risk-taking?
Colleges and Universities
- How do university policies
affect eligibility rates? curriculum? teaching practices?
- What is the University doing
to prepare teachers to teach in schools with large numbers of students
living in poverty?
- How do high school students
perceive the university?
- What kinds of relationships
do university faculty have with K-12 teachers in the districts?
- Do university faculty spend
time in schools and classrooms?
- Are there mutual discussions
between university educators and school people about racial and class
- Is the university providing
professional development on educational equity?