Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

Do You Want an Equity School?

Equity is one of those value propositions that is easy to agree with. Everyone is generally in favor of equity, right up until it means that they might have to become a bit uncomfortable to achieve it.

Having a school that is equitable is a great deal more difficult than just affirming the value of equity. Being an equity school means taking actions, routinely and consistently, that will make some staff members, students, and parents uncomfortable that have rarely had to be uncomfortable.

Being an equity school means taking an anti-racist stance. This means having a school-wide commitment to address instances of racism, both subtle and overt. Anti-racism is a much more active state than simply not being racist. Being anti-racist acknowledges power and privilege that you have and your commitment to spend it on disrupting the system.

Equity schools also create safe spaces for groups of people to express their feelings and be supported, without others getting defensive. Don’t wait for your Black students or staff members to form their own support group — engage them in conversation about why it might be important for them to have their own space and let them know that you want to help and support.

Finally, equity schools seek out feedback on where there is still work to do. Ask individuals how things could be better. You never know who might be hiding an identity because they don’t feel safe showing their pronouns to their colleagues, and you’ll never know unless you create a safe space and then ask.

Creating an equity school is not a workshop or this year’s focus. Having an equity school is the path towards all other things that schools hope to achieve. Having an equity school means attending to that purpose, with intentionality, every single day.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

— Martin Luther King Jr.




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16th Street Consulting is dedicated to improving organizational effectiveness through equity, focusing on education, health care, and government.

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