Equity in education has been a hot topic for many years, but as the world becomes more complex and dynamic, it’s becoming increasingly important for us to understand what educational equity means and what it can do for our schools. In this article, we’ll explore six components of educational equity leadership: research and evaluation; policy advancement; communications and messaging; community engagement; building strong partnerships; and leadership through building strong partnerships.
1. What is Equity?
Equity is the process of ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed. It’s not just about fairness—it’s about making sure every student has what they need to succeed. Equity means that you’re giving each student resources, support, and access to learning opportunities so that no one gets left behind or fails.
3. Why Focus on Educational Equity?
We focus on educational equity because we believe that students should have access to the same opportunities and resources. Equitable schools are good for all students, and they make it possible for everyone to learn, succeed, and contribute.
As a leader in your school community or organization, you have the power to create equitable learning environments that support all learners. This section provides resources for helping you do just that!
4. Leadership Through Research and Evaluation
Research and evaluation are complex, multifaceted processes. Having a framework for understanding them is helpful as you work on your own projects or collaborate with others. A basic definition of research is “the systematic investigation into and analysis of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (American Psychological Association). Evaluation involves the “collecting, analyzing or interpreting information about a program or function to determine its effectiveness” (American Educational Research Association).
But what do these definitions mean? How do we move from broad concepts like this to specific activities such as identifying barriers to success for students of color? The key here is recognizing that research and evaluation can be applied anywhere—in policymaking, curriculum development, teaching practices—and any time during the classroom experience. They are tools that help us learn more about how things work so we can make better decisions about how they should work in our schools.
5. Leadership Through Policy Advancement
Policy development is key to achieving educational equity. The process of policy advancement should be led by leaders who advocate for a vision of true educational equity and work collaboratively with others to make that vision a reality. Leaders are often required to navigate the policy development process, which often involves multiple stakeholders and perspectives.
6. Leadership Through Communications and Messaging
Leaders must communicate clearly and consistently about the work we’re doing, why it matters, and how we’re going to get there. We need to be transparent about our intentions and expectations of others, as well as our own struggles and victories along the way.
Leaders must be authentic in their communications: If you say something publicly, people have every right to expect that you believe it wholeheartedly. If you don’t feel passionate about what your organization is doing or how they are going about it—if you feel like something is lacking in the leadership team—then fix those problems before they become apparent externally.
7. Leadership Through Community Engagement
Leadership through Community Engagement
In order to lead for educational equity, a school leader must be willing to engage the community in the work of their school. This can take many forms. It may mean engaging parents and community members in decision-making, communicating with them about what is happening at school, and inviting feedback. It may mean working with organizations in the community that have an interest in education (e.g., local businesses) or partnering with them on projects that benefit students directly (e.g., providing jobs for students as part of a work study program). Integrating members of the community into activities within your school will help draw attention to issues facing underserved populations and build momentum for change.
8. Leadership Through Building Strong Partnerships
The importance of strong partnerships is the root of many of the successes you’ve seen in your school. The most effective schools build strong partnerships with their parents, students, teachers and community members. To build these kinds of relationships, we recommend that you:
- Start by getting to know your staff. Have a casual lunch or coffee with someone new each week. Ask questions about their goals for the year and what they hope to get out of teaching at your school. It may seem like small talk but it can go a long way toward building trust between teachers and administrators
- Hire teachers who are excited about working at your school!
- Keep parents updated on events happening in the classroom or throughout school as much as possible through newsletters or social media posts
- Let students know how much you value them by offering opportunities for them to lead projects (like decorating bulletin boards), serve as liaisons between groups (like connecting clubs) or even just wear an extra special badge when they’re doing great things on campus
The need for leaders who believe in doing what’s right for kids and families is urgent. The evidence is clear: educational equity leads to better outcomes for students, improved relationships with communities, and higher rates of success in life after high school. It’s time to take action!