Teams tasked with ensuring educational equity for all students

When our 100-member Strategic Planning team met last year to map out the district’s next five years, they gave special attention to the issue of student equity.

Now that the Strategic Plan is in place, district leaders are putting together “equity teams” at each school to ensure every child is given the best, most equitable education possible.

The teams, which include 5-9 staff members in each building, are meeting monthly to analyze data, identify problems and solutions, and look for ways to view every aspect of their jobs through an “equity lens.”

The first task is educating people on the difference between equity and equality.

“Being equal is giving everyone a one-size-fits-all T-shirt. Equity is giving everyone a T-shirt that fits them,” said School Board member Roseanna Camacho.

Equity teams have already been convened at nine Bethel schools. Nine more teams will be created next year, with the final nine teams being formed the following year.

Deb Carlman, Bethel’s Director of Equity and Achievement, is helping the teams as they begin their work.

“Part of the process is looking at everything we do through an equity lens,” Carlman said.

That means that when making decisions or planning instruction, educators should ask themselves several questions:

Carlman said one of the goals for the first year is to build trust and encourage self reflection among the team members.

“It’s our hope that each team member will raise their own awareness and take the time to examine their own blind spots. We all have biases and implicit associations that are unconscious. If we don’t first become aware of those, we can unintentionally discourage the very students we are seeking to support,” she said. “Equity is not an event, program or initiative — it’s a belief, a mindset.”