Who’s Afraid of Educational Equity–and Why?

In this week’s edition of the Wednesday Journal, Linda Francis of Success of All Youth (SAY) gives eloquent and powerful voice to some of the thoughts on racial equity that have been simmering for me ever since I began my run last fall for the District 200 Board of Education.

Among her gems is calling out the “fear of the zero sum game”–the wrong-headed notion that improving the academic rigor, and results, for students of color means that other students’ experience will suffer.

And perhaps my favorite line comes under her discussion of the “fear of competition”:

“This type of thinking has us fighting over crumbs rather than creating a society that bakes more bread.”

I have found that fear indeed is just below the surface of much resistance to, and backlash against, anything that challenges the status quo, including efforts toward genuine educational equity: So often, rather than venture forth toward some unknown terrain, we are willing to live with a known pain. That willingness may stem from our familiarity with the pain, or maybe it’s not as painful for me or “us” than it is for some “them” out there, or perhaps because we don’t even recognize it as pain, just as “the way it has always been.”

Whatever the reason, when we act upon the reality that the success of our own youth (right down to those in our own families) is tied directly to the success of ALL youth, then we will be more likely to effect meaningful, positive change. Let’s be ruled not by close-minded fear, but by clear-eyed hope rooted in the truth that there is boundless potential in everyone. 

Be sure to read Linda’s essay, “Racial Equity Demands True Dialogue.”

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