Officials from 13 states gathered in Indianapolis to talk about improving equity in education Friday. The group focused on how best to include student, family, and other voices in education policy, specifically those of marginalized communities.
The Great Lakes Equity Center provides assistance to states to improve equity of all kinds in schools. Executive director Kathleen King Thorius says the goal of the summit is to get people talking about engaging various stakeholders, because often not all of them are at the table.
“Who gets to decide what’s going to happen has often been a position that’s been held by some of us in our society, typically people who look like me, who are white and often who are white men,” she says.
Authentic engagement boils down to how officials involve marginalized communities in key policy decisions, she says, so the collected department of education officials reflected on how to do better, while sharing ideas and forging partnerships to do so.
Associate Director of Engagement and Partnerships with the Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center, Tiffany Kyser says many of the conversations at the summit focused on being better prepared and aware of the impact decisions have on various groups, and looking at how systems fail students – not the other way around.
“A very large idea to tackle in public education is, moving our attention and focus away from very deficit views of what students and families aren’t doing,” she says. “And shifting that gaze back to the systems that are creating conditions where historically some students benefit from the way things are.”
King Thorius and Kyser both say they hope officials leave the summit with new or strengthened connections across state lines to continue equity-focused work throughout the year.