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Equitable Education: What does it look like?

Children looking up at the teacher.

The Region 8 Comprehensive Center (Region 8 CC) team is committed to helping educators in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana to pursue educational equity for all their students. But this is daunting work for everyone involved, in part because it entails finding ways to overcome entrenched systemic imbalances—in resources, procedures, networks, and relationships. And because every community is diverse in its educational needs, one-size-fits-all solutions are impossible. Nonetheless, we are continually inspired by the vision a world in which children and young people have everything they need to learn and grow. Here, state coordinators Amy Colton, Beverly Mattson, Kerry Hoffman, and Stephanie Irvine share in their own words what education would like if it were truly equitable. 

Amy Colton: If students were experiencing a truly equitable education, they, as well as the adults in and outside the schools, would be treated with dignity regardless of their cultural backgrounds, race, socio-economic status, or identities. Strong nurturing relationships and accountability between students and teachers would be the norm. Students would experience a rigorous, coherent, and engaging instructional program that is reflective of the students’ cultural backgrounds and is made relevant through the application of real world-world problems. Students’ assets and funds of knowledge would be integrated into learning experiences. All students would have access to high quality teaching. Teachers would collaborate regularly to learn from and with each other in an effort to increase their pedagogical expertise and to be culturally responsive to all students. Procedures and practices would be in place to keep students from falling through the cracks, and students’ unique needs would continuously be assessed and addressed, and accommodations made so All reach high outcomes. When equitable educational experiences exist all educators and students will gain a sense of agency, belonging, respect, and engagement.

Beverly Mattson: Equitable education would be when each and every student, no matter where they live in the United States or what their backgrounds and abilities are, would have access to well-resourced schools and effective teachers of rigorous and individualized instruction, so that all students could reach their goals and meet high expectations with needed supports and services. Equity would include specifically identifying and eliminating any barriers that prevent schools from having effective teachers, the resources, supports, and services they need, so they can provide each and every student rigorous individualized instruction with high expectations.

Kerry Hoffman: If education were truly equitable, students would be thriving regardless of their zip code. All students would have opportunities to participate in deep, meaningful learning that values and empowers them as individuals, and schools would be welcoming places that bring all members of the community together to enhance those learning experiences. 

Stephanie Irvine: If education were truly equitable, every child would have what they need to learn and grow. We talk a lot about a system that supports the equitable distribution of resources. Just as importantly, we must encourage (and equip) adults to know each child – to value what they uniquely bring to the classroom – and “personalize” learning for them.

Equitable Education:

  • Students and teachers treated with dignity irrespective of cultural background, race, socioeconomic status, or identity.
  • Access to resourced schools and individualized instruction for students.
  • Elimination of barriers that hinder schools from having effective teachers, resources, support, and services students need.
  • Students thrive in school regardless of the zip code in which they live.
  • Teachers equipped to know each child, value them, and personalize learning for them.