I write today with some exciting leadership transition news concerning the Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES) project. First, let me start with a brief review of the RIDES work to date. We started RIDES 3 ½ years ago as a response to Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the societal forces that somehow made it a common and regular event for unarmed black and brown men to die at the hands of police. With startup support from the Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean’s Office, and a three year grant from the Walton Family Foundation, we developed a mission and vision for disrupting inequities in schools and tools to support schools that aspire to meet the ABCDs of high quality integrated schools. We have built an aligned set of self-assessment tools and curated more than 150 practices that help schools and districts move toward their equity goals. We have developed and launched a RIDES Leadership Fellowship where more than a dozen HGSE students are being supported as they prepare to take on diversity, equity and integration leadership roles in schools and districts.
Most exciting to me personally, we have developed and begun to scale up the use of an Equity Improvement Cycle that Dr. Darnisa Amante and I developed, that provides schools and districts with customizable, structured support in naming and addressing their equity challenges. It starts with a focus on developing the personal and team equity culture sites need to do deep work around race and equity, and then guides them through a six-step improvement process that builds their capacity to identify and improve in their settings. In this past year alone, we have been able to support Equity Improvement Cycles in more than 35 schools or districts in nine different states. Darnisa and I have done this nationally through a very successful pilot RIDES Institute, as well as in local Equity Improvement Networks that I have set up in New York and in other cities. In several of those settings, we have been able to engage students as partners in equity improvement alongside teachers and administrators, by launching the work with the Three-Day Intensive version of the cycle.
Over the last two years, as I have been able to work more extensively in the field, it has become increasingly appealing for me to reduce my workload at Harvard to do more direct equity improvement work with schools and districts. At the end of June, I am stepping away from my full-time teaching responsibilities at HGSE as well as my role as Director of RIDES. Fortunately for RIDES, a skilled and committed faculty colleague, Dr. Candice Bocala, is eager to step up to the overall leadership and management of the initiative. Candice brings a relevant academic focus, through the courses she teaches at HGSE on facilitating adult learning, racial equity practices, improvement science, and program evaluation. She brings over a decade of involvement and practical leadership experience helping schools and districts learn and use the Data Wise Improvement Process. In the same spirit as RIDES, Data Wise helps educators build a collaborative culture and use a wide variety of data sources to advance equitable instructional changes for all students.
During the coming year, I will stay affiliated with RIDES, supporting Candice in the transition, leading the continued development of the Improvement Cycle work and, with my RIDES colleague, Dr. Darnisa Amante, launching a scaled-up version of the RIDES Institute. The Institute will start October 20-23 and will involve as many as 12 schools and districts over the following eight months. More information and an application should be available shortly and will be posted on the websites for RIDES (under the RIDES Institute tab) and for HGSE’s Programs in Professional Education.
In addition, as a consultant, I will be developing and supporting local Equity Improvement Networks in several cities and states, working with teachers, school and district leaders, and, where possible, parents and students. I especially look forward to being involved with middle and high schools to engage students as partners with adults on equity improvement. Please contact me directly if you would like to learn more about this work.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Candice Bocala as the new Director of RIDES. We look forward to a smooth transition and exciting work in the coming year. Through my continued work at RIDES and through direct work in the field, I look forward to remaining connected with many of you over the years to come.