Monday, January 18, 2010

Are You Brave Enough to Stand Up?

As I was running up a muddy path today, berating myself for choosing the muddiest path ever on which to christen my brand new running shoes ( yes, they are white and aqua no less) I began to reflect about the discussions I have engaged in this weekend on Twitter and a Facebook group, "The Educator's Neighborhood". I have ventured into discussions with folks I might have previously been intimidated by; their passion and advocacy for kids is fueled by experiences, both personal and educational, and backgrounds of which I am only a bystander. I was a single parent for 18 years but I must admit that being a white single parent in a suburban area does not necessarily mean that I know what every single parent experiences.
As I ran, it seemed like a voice inside was interrogating me.   How can I speak about equity as a white middle class woman? Does anyone care what I  have to say? Wouldn't it be even more powerful for me, as a leader at my site, to have learned from as many of my online colleagues as possible, as I work on this equity team?
As my shoes got muddy and less than pure white, I thought about how this whole issue of equity and my role on the "equity team" at my school is not going to be clean and pretty. We are a relatively non-diverse group of teachers teaching a somewhat diverse group of kids. Is there any wonder that we have an achievement gap?
I know that this road to equity is going to be bumpy and that the proverbial crap will inevitably hit the fan as folks are led to truly evaluate their roles in maintaining barriers to equity in our school. Although we may know how to "say the right things" when the equity consultant visits for a 2 hour meeting, do we know how to practice in a way that gives all kids what they need to believe in themselves and achieve? Do we take the time to really understand our kids, listen to them and reach out to their families?  I have a feeling that I am going to be much less popular as the year continues. And that's okay with me, as long as one more child gets what he/she needs.

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