Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2007
Teachers, administrators and faculty come to IU to learn about educational equity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A group of 25 school teachers and administrators, plus IU students and faculty spent this week inside the IU Wright Education Building focusing on how to bring educational equity to their schools. The Center for Research and P-16 Collaboration in the Indiana University School of Education and the Hoosier School Reform Faculty hosted the week-long conference called "Leading for Educational Equity: a Journey of Interruption, Transition and Transformation."
Participants, largely from Indianapolis Public Schools and Monroe County schools, examined topics dealing with race, class, gender, sexual orientation and other issues that impact teaching and learning. Organizers hoped participants would connect to their own experiences to help take leadership for educational equity.
The Center for Research and P-16 Collaboration opened in fall 2006 with support from the IU Bloomington Office of the Provost and the School of Education. The Hoosier School Reform Faculty is a "Center of Activity" of the National School Reform Faculty (NSRF) and is headquartered at Harmony Education Center in Bloomington.
Harmony founder and NSRF senior fellow Daniel Baron conducted this week's seminar. He called the goal of educational equity a lifelong journey for every educator and said that one of the primary aims of the conference was to work towards eliminating the "predictive value of race, class, gender, language and special capacities on success in school."
The focus for many of these low-achieving student populations, particularly in urban areas, according to Baron, should shift from equal access to equal outcomes in education. Only through addressing equity issues, he said, can schools rid certain populations of nearly certain academic failure.
Currently, Baron said, some ways of educating students may work against low-achieving populations.
"What's included, what's excluded, what's expected from kids, where they're tracked, what classes they're offered and where they are guided into," Baron said. "If we can't learn to work across our differences, with respect and without blame and shame, and come to understand the different stories and histories of peoples in this country, we'll never be able to fully serve each child well."
Activities during the week were designed to utilize participants' experiences in their own schools to determine how to promote equity. Baron said participants examined what has worked and what hasn't.
"We're looking deeply at our practices," he said, "at the systems with which we're working, with their policies and at teaching pedagogies that must be diversified and must be culturally responsive in order to meet the needs of every student in the classroom."
Activities included looking at historical changes in education, starting in 1647 and going through the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Another involved a silent "chalk talk," where participants wrote down their thoughts about equity and education.
Baron said teachers and administrators should walk away from the conference with a better understanding of what some low-achieving populations may need from schools.
"We know that we have to make that learning experience relevant to the kids in the classroom -- where they see their cultures, and their value systems and belief systems represented in the curriculum and their histories represented in the curriculum," he said.
This week's seminar is just the third educational equity seminar held nationally. The National School Reform Faculty is holding a coaching for educational equity seminar later this summer in Indianapolis. Baron said the organization has trained more than 25,000 teachers and administrators on how to coach equity skills within their schools.
Media Outlets: the following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at http://education.indiana.edu/audio.html.
Baron says part of equity education is making the curriculum relevant to students:
"We know that we have to make that learning experience relevant to the kids in the classroom, where they see their cultures, and their value systems and belief systems represented in the curriculum, and their histories represented in the curriculum. And we also know that without paying careful attention to relationship building both between adults and children in schools, and amongst children across differences in schools, that it won't be the safe kind of environment that kids need in order to be open to learning and learning new ideas and learning at high levels."
Baron says the efforts at equity education in Indiana are mostly focused on the urban populations where students are under-achieving:
"...majorities of students who are not completing high school successfully and who don't leave school with the skills and the habits that are essential not only to participate fully in a democratic society, but to lead a fulfilling life and to contribute to that society. So we're looking deeply at our practices, at the systems with whom we're working, with their policies and at teaching pedagogies that must be diversified and must be culturally responsive in order to meet the needs of every student in the classroom."
Baron says some ways of educating may work against certain populations:
"...in what's included, what's excluded, what's expected from kids, where they're tracked, what classes they're offered and where they are guided into. If we can't learn to work across our differences, with respect and without blame and shame, and come to understand the different stories and histories of peoples in this country, we'll never be able to fully serve each child well."