An Evolving Definition of Educational Equity

Carlon Howard
Feb 4 · 2 min read

Educational Equity is the intentional development and alignment of policies and practices to promote psychological safety and physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being. Advancing Educational Equity ensures every learner has access to resources and opportunities that are both aligned with their needs and support their academic and social-emotional success.

Efforts to pursue educational equity may include strategies such as developing fair funding policies, modifying or eliminating biased academic standards, or providing additional academic and social-emotional supports. Interventions may even fall outside of the traditional boundaries of our education systems, such as promoting housing security, improving food access, and addressing poverty through economic policy. Educational Equity requires solutions that are designed specifically to reflect individual and community needs, and therefore, no singular strategy or approach exists. We believe, however, the following are key for promoting Educational Equity:¹

  1. Diversity is a major component of our society and should be viewed as a critical asset in our way of being rather than as an afterthought.
  2. Complex systems, such as our education systems, are made up of relatively simple interactions. Transformation relies on building and maintaining authentic relationships.²
  3. Criteria for success when advancing Educational Equity must be based on the quality of individual and community life as opposed to standardized test scores.
  4. Decision-making processes ensure students maintain a voice in the creation of policies and programs intended to serve them. Additionally, students and their parents and families possess appropriate mechanisms to hold education agencies accountable.
  5. Systemic oppression and marginalization have a real, material impact on individuals and communities. Effective interventions designed to promote Educational Equity recognize how these forces affect people’s lived experiences and their engagement with the education system.

This is an ever-evolving definition that has been influenced by multiple sources and great thinkers that work beyond the traditional K-12 space. What are your thoughts on this definition? What’s missing? What should be added?

[1]: This definition was inspired by the Principles of Harm Reduction from the National Harm Reduction Coalition. Learn more here: https://harmreduction.org/about-us/principles-of-harm-reduction/

[2]: In Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, adrienne maree brown discusses the idea of fractals relating to social movements. I strongly suggest you buy and read this book. Build an understanding of the concept of fractals here: https://earthlingopinion.wordpress.com/2019/03/01/fractals-the-relationship-between-small-and-large/

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