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Equitable Practices Hub

What is equity?

In a vacuum, equity simply means “the quality of being fair and impartial.”

Equity is a word that is heard frequently in academic and political spheres, as stakeholders continue the process of examining our communities to eliminate the barriers inherent to our systems. However, a thorough examination of current and historical events reveals that there is much more work to be done in this field.

Equity is ambiguous in the sense that it is without great impact if left alone by itself. An institution and those that work to support it may have the ideal of equity on their minds, but the issue often comes with its execution not as a lofty ideal, but rather a daily practice; a word that lives on the ground in our societies and communities. It is in the active and intentional viewing of the systems in which we operate with a lens focused on equity that we connect the ideal to practice and establish lasting systemic change.

As equity applies to educational systems, it has not been achieved. Though much critical work has been and continues to be done, we still see the outcomes of an inequitable educational system in the lives of the children of marginalized communities. The job of any equitable educational system is not to demand the rising of a community to the standards of the system, but rather to self-examine, to identify what gaps exist in the provisions of that institution that inhibit a community's rise.

In Pennsylvania, equity has been defined as "every student having access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income (www.ccsso.org)." Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has noted that "to do their best, students must feel safe at school. A healthy and safe environment can help students thrive, and every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression should be provided the opportunity to learn - free from discrimination, fear, or harassment."

The purpose of the Equitable Practices Hub is to establish a coherent collection of resources that an educational community may use in promoting intentional equity in their communities. The resources have been hand-picked and reviewed, and represent best practices, models, and guidance from all their component parts. They are here divided into the following pillars seen below, which can then be applied to three different spheres, also below.

Pillars

General Equity Practices: How can our educational community consider global equitable practices in our specific context?

Self-Awareness: What is the role of educators, staff, - or more broadly, YOU - in shaping the educational community towards greater equity?

Data Practices: How might our educational community use our own specific data in order to drive equity efforts within our community?

Family/Community Engagement: What is the role of the educational community beyond the school in driving educational equity efforts?

Academic Equity: How might what we teach, practice, and enforce shape educational equity? How are we providing academic access and opportunity?

Disciplinary Equity: Does our system of discipline reflect equity among all student subgroups?

Spheres

District/School: In what way can the school district or an individual school become more equitable across their systems?

Classroom: What can teachers do, in manners of curriculum, discipline, pedagogy, and classroom culture in order to become better proponents of equity?

Individual: What can an individual, be it a teacher, administrator, student services professional, caregiver, or student, do to promote equity in their educational community?

Before You Begin

Prior to engaging in reviewing and using the resources in the virtual hub, it is recommended users consider accessing the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium (MAEC) - Criteria for an Equitable School Tool (PDF) as a starting point in understanding the current status of their district/school.

Once completed by a core district or school team, a companion action planning guide (Word) has been developed to support action steps in alignment with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Equity Pillars of Practice. This companion guide may be helpful for teams to determine immediate, short-term and long-term priorities.

Using the Equity Pillars of Practice may also serve as a way to develop subcommittees in supporting specific efforts district or school wide.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please feel free to contact your local intermediate unit equity point of contact and/or Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims: c-nhollins@pa.gov.

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Note: links shared that take users beyond the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website to a non-PDE website, organization, product, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by PDE, and, PDE is not responsible for the content featured on any of the sites or pages referenced.