(Spoiler alert: it’s not. But you should keep reading anyway.)
Our Systemic Equity Assessment has become one of the most requested of the educational equity services in The Equity Collaborative’s repertoire. After all, when a school district needs a strong plan for equity change, getting a clear picture of where things currently stand makes for a reasonable enough starting point.
Here’s what that starting point looks like for us:
We examine the school district’s own existent data in concert with interviews and focus groups we conduct with administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community members. In other words, we combine the quantitative with the qualitative to generate a comprehensive report. We draw on standards for equity taken from the work of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, Randall Lindsay’s Cultural Proficiency Model, and other equity tools.
The deliverables vary by client, of course, but our Systemic Equity Assessment report tends to include the following:
- data analysis on equity and opportunity gaps;
- discussion of themes from the qualitative interviews, including anonymous quotes that illustrate each theme; and
- recommendations for the district’s approach to systemic equity change efforts.
Systemic Equity Change Efforts: Knowing Is A Small but Important Part of the Battle
Knowing that there are problems is important. Elaborating on the specifics of those problems is very important. Creating change: that’s the crucial part. It’s also the hard part.
You may have heard of a concept in the field of psychology called the G.I. Joe Fallacy. It was developed by a couple of Yale professors, Dr. Laurie Santos and Dr. Tamar Gendler, and takes its name from the prototypically cheesy public service announcements that got tacked onto episodes of its somehow even more prototypically 1980s animated series, “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.”
In one such scenario, a child ill-advisedly tells a stranger on the phone that he’s home alone. A (presumably non-active-duty) G.I. serviceperson named Roadblock gets wind of the mistake while taking a stroll through the neighborhood and tells the child why he shouldn’t have done that.
“Now I know!” says the child.
“And knowing is half the battle!” says Roadblock.
“It’s not!” say Drs. Santos and Gendler.
To the contrary, they say, knowledge often finds itself at odds with cognitive function. Their go-to example is optical illusions. We’ve all seen the lines pictured below enough times to know that they’re the same length, yet our brain’s optical processes have an extraordinarily difficult time seeing them as anything but different lengths. Evolutionarily speaking, our eyes have spent a long time training themselves to see these lines as different lengths.