We can do this. Educational equity is achievable. Opportunity and achievement gaps based on race, class, language, or other social difference are being eliminated in excellent schools and systems.
People lead change. The problems in education today are complex, daunting, and systemic. There is no one program or approach that will solve them. But in every case, people will solve these problems — people working together more effectively, purposefully, openly, and strategically than before.
Solutions must be people-focused. Education reform is often conceived and delivered as a technical enterprise: data and accountability, performance management, resource re-allocations, etc. Program solutions are important in complex education systems, but if we neglect the social and emotional sides of people (culture, race, history, relationships), we will continue to see slow or no progress.
Equity requires dialogue. Urban education systems are oppressive and the people in it are hurting. Students and families are angry, scared, lost, alienated, acting out. Educators are stressed, frustrated, professionally anxious, and turning over at high rates. Progress requires strong alliances across identity and role. Sustainable change requires time and space for talking, listening, thinking, learning, and healing together.
Good data used well makes for good decisions. “Good data” is information about each student that teachers can actually use to make critical decisions now that will improve their teaching and student learning. It also means similar actionable information about families, teachers, schools, districts, and systems. Change should be informed by best practices and research, local data, and qualitative understanding of the people involved.