In many of the communities Jumpstart serves, access to high-quality early education remains a large obstacle and disproportionately affects communities of color. In honor of Juneteenth, today we feature a round-up of recent news and commentary about educational equity in the U.S. public school system, reminding us that while we’ve come a long way, there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed, from preschool onward.
(Council of Chief State School Officers – February 2017)
A joint publication of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Aspen Institute‘s Education & Society Program, Leading for Equity outlines key steps that all education leaders can take to promote educational equity in public schools.
“Part of leading for equity means state leaders must rebuild trust that has been lost between the public and civic institutions, including public education. Many Americans have experienced inequity in education for generations. They have lost confidence that public officials are committed to ensuring that factors like race and socio-economic status do not determine students’ success.” Read more.
(The Hechinger Report – March 14, 2017)
A new approach to desegregating classrooms involves a concerted effort to create racial and socioeconomic diversity in schools. One early childhood center in New Orleans hopes this “diverse by design” approach will help end segregation and improve educational opportunities for all students, regardless of racial or socioeconomic background.
“We are recruiting families who want a diverse school and who are not blind to the fact that our schools are segregated,” said Eboni Walker, executive director of the Hoffman Early Learning Center. “We want families who value the research that shows children learn best in these diverse environments.”
(The Hechinger Report – June 2, 2017)
Gentrification is a loaded term in many communities around the U.S., but a housing boom in the District of Columbia may also be helping to desegregrate classrooms in one of the nation’s most “racially isolated” school systems.
“About 84 of Van Ness preschoolers are black, 60 are white, 14 are Hispanic, and the remaining few dozen are of various Asian backgrounds, or listed as multiracial, according to the D.C. Public Schools — making the school one of the District’s most diverse by race, ethnicity and social class. ‘Schools are becoming less, not more diverse,’ Robinson-Rivers said. ‘The opportunity for a school like this is especially important.’”
(Education Week – June 19, 2017)
This look at the CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network – a group of schools enacting the ideas highlighted by the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) ideals as described in the “Leading for Equity” report (above) – finds reason to hope that educational equity can be achieved, and sooner that we think.
“What was common across all four of these schools was an environment where every student felt affirmed and included, had multiple opportunities to express themselves in their work, and a laser focus on student mastery of rigorous core academic content, effective critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills, and other aspects of what education policy experts call deeper learning…. The more I observed these educators share their passion for justice with their students, the more I became convinced that educational equity is not just a lofty ideal, but a likely reality.”