Last week education leaders met at the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s breakfast meeting to discuss the top ten issues in education for 2018. As noted in priority #8, “let’s get comfortable with the uncomfortable” was a recommendation to pursue outcomes-focused strategies towards racial equity. But let’s step back and understand equity and what this means in education and to educators who want to promote equity in their schools and classrooms. In the simplest form, equity is the quality of being fair or impartial, or freedom from bias or favoritism, according to Merriam-Webster.
One area that we can increase our own abilities for fairness is to teach with an equity literacy lens. According to Paul Gorski, professor at George Mason University and Founder of the Equity Literacy Institute, equity literacy is “the skills and dispositions that enable us to recognize, respond to and redress (i.e., correct for) conditions that deny some students access to the educational opportunities enjoyed by their peers. Equity literacy also describes the skills and dispositions that allow us to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all families and students” (Gorski, P. Imagining Equity Literacy. Teaching Tolerance, 2014). Adopting and employing an equity literacy lens in our schools may lead to uncomfortable conversations, but these conversations are courageous and necessary.
In March, World View will host a seminar on Building Stronger Bridges: Cultural Respect and Equity in the Classroom for K-12 and community college educators. The goal of the program is to support educators in building and sustaining equitable learning environments for all families, students and educators. Through plenary talks and breakout sessions, participants at World View’s spring seminar will explore issues of cultural respect and equity, learning what barriers need to be removed and what strategies can be implemented to recognize the potential for all learners. We will have conversations about the uncomfortable, discussing implicit bias, privilege and more but we will also share strategies and resources. We will learn about building cultural competence and cultural proficiency as a foundation to move towards equity.
In addition to several UNC faculty members providing keynote talks and concurrent sessions, we are fortunate to have Adrienne van der Valk joining us from Teaching Tolerance. Teaching Tolerance helps teachers and schools educate children and young people to be active participants in a diverse democracy and provides anti-bias and social justice resources to educators. PlayMakers Repertory Company will also be joining us to share scenes and a discussion from Leaving Eden, a play described as a “story of racial tension, immigration and economic crisis in a small North Carolina town—this unearthing of yesterday yields a hopeful hymn for our future.”
We hope to engage in thoughtful conversation and learning on March 20-21 at the Building Stronger Bridges seminar. Please join us! Register here.