Equity Lab Community Learning

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Defining Equity

The mission of our organization is reflected in our name: equity. We define equity as systemic social processes that advance justice in order for each individual to achieve at universally high levels. In the context of our education design, equity has four dimensions:

Powerful learning opportunities. A family’s zip code in too many instances determines the quality of their child's education. Segregation is reinforced where students of color and children living in poverty are taught in programs that emphasize basic skills and compliance while their peers in affluent communities experience an education system that cultivates deeper learning and creativity. True educational equity means that all students have access to powerful learning opportunities. Powerful learning opportunities have four traits: relevance- learning is connected to students’ passions and identities; relationships- learning happens in a supportive school community; focused and sustained inquiry- learning leads to mastery of essential concepts and skills, and excellence- learning is challenging and reflects a school culture of high achievement/expectations and continuous improvement.

College/post-secondary and career readiness. In research reports, employers revealed that both high school and college graduates were strikingly unprepared for the workplace in the 21st century. While employers lamented that a large percentage of graduates were not proficient in basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, they were more concerned that graduates could not adequately demonstrate critical thinking/problem solving, creativity/innovation, and teamwork/collaboration. Research reports referred to these competencies as applied skills and employers insisted that they trump basic knowledge and skills such as reading comprehension and mathematics. This is not to say that basic skills are not essential, but if students cannot apply these skills in real settings, they cannot thrive within an evolving global economy.

Inclusive learning environment. There are often inequities within learning environments that leave students feeling that they are not fully included in the learning experience, particularly students with disabilities, English Learners, or those who identify as LGBTQ. A truly inclusive learning community provides a learning environment where students, staff, and families experience themselves as valued members of the community, and they are provided with the resources to achieve at the highest levels.

Social change. The primary purpose of education is to prepare students to be change agents and active citizens within their communities. Education should provide opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking about real issues affecting their community and to engage in creative and collaborative problem-solving.