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For many of the schools and communities RIDES works with, the desired outcomes for diverse and equitable schools can be summarized in four categories:
- A. Academics All students have strong academic preparation, capitalizing on and connecting to students of all backgrounds, with high levels of knowledge and skills.
- B. Belongingness All students have a strong sense and appreciation of their own culture and heritage, as well as those of their diverse classmates.
- C. Commitment to Dismantling Racism and Oppression All students understand the role that institutional racism and other forms of oppression play in our society and have the skills, vision, and courage to dismantle them.
- D. Diversity All students appreciate and value different perspectives and thoughts. People have friendships and collaborative working relationships with students and adults from different racial and economic backgrounds. Click here to learn more
RIDES recommends schools and districts use three kinds of systemic thinking:
We start in the classroom - which should be academically challenging, culturally connected for all kids, and places where courageous conversations about race and equity can take place. The first kind of systemic thinking we use is to see how the following are linked--what teachers do, what the content (curriculum) is, and what the expectations and experiences for students are, because if you change one without the others, you don’t get lasting impacts.
The second kind of systemic thinking looks at the way factors outside classrooms affect what goes on inside them. For example, systems and structures like tracking, and discipline approaches that disproportionately affect students of color, are bigger than any one classroom and yet, affect all of them.
The third systemic thinking we use is about race -- helping people move beyond seeing issues around race in schools (e.g. tracking, discipline systems) as individual or interpersonal (such as the statistics that black students are 4 times more likely to be suspended in school, or that almost all students in honors classes are white) rather than systemic or institutional. Click here to learn more
The RIDES Equity Improvement Cycle brings together a key group of stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, and administrators) to focus on a particular issue around equity at their school.Sometimes the focus is on classroom dynamics – what equity looks like in the relationships teachers have with students, how culturally connected the curriculum is, etc. The cycle can also focus on other equity issues, like disproportionate referrals of students of color for discipline, or difficulties a school or system has in hiring and retaining faculty of color.
The cycle is usually done over weeks or months and should always be part of ongoing systemic improvement work. Regardless of the length of the cycle or the topic, it is essential that the working group have a solid understanding and willingness to work on the personal and professional impacts of racism and develop the common definitions they need to guide the equity work and enough relational trust to be able to work together. We think of the development of Personal and Team Equity Culture as an initial and continuing requirement gets followed by six key steps that a wellexecuted equity improvement cycle should provide: Click here to learn more
Videos Presented by Dr. Lee Teitel, RIDES Founding Director and Senior Consultant