Equity of Opportunity
In his keynote address at Arizona School Boards Association’s (ASBA) Equity Event, Pedro Noguera stated that equity is addressing the academic and social needs of all students which often means that those with less need more. More time, attention, and support.
To achieve equity in a school system, there must be an equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity happens when the system has intentional alignment between belief and practice.
Creating an equitable school environment requires each tier of our student support system to be aligned. Alignment is the degree to which the components of an education system, such as overall philosophy, policies, and programs, work together to achieve desired goals.
Behind every district is a set of core beliefs that influence what and how students learn. This philosophy of education should drive a unified pedagogy, curriculum, learning theory, and the purpose of education.
Schools are policy rich. There are policies for discipline, attendance, professionalism, curriculum, and instruction. Governing boards exist to set and enforce adherence to the policies. School leaders operationalize policies. Teachers are often reminded of policies. Parents have to sign off on policies. Policies are important, but all of them should align to the district philosophy.
Programs support all aspects of school life: instructional programs, discipline programs, attendance programs. There are even after school programs and programs that support the health and well-being of students. Programs are officially and unofficially adopted. Hopefully programs are chosen and implemented because they support the policies which are in service to the district’s philosophy.
Reflect on Your System
How consistent and tight is the alignment between your philosophy, policies, and programs? Here are some questions to ask yourself and your leadership teams:
What is my district’s view of educational equity? (philosophy)
What are the practices within our control that hinder/help with ensuring equity? (policies)
Where is equity of opportunity reflected in our curriculum, instruction, and assessment work? (programs)