On November 4, Voices for Racial Justice Senior Organizer Julia Freeman and Research and Policy Director Brett Grant presented a workshop at the Overcoming Racism conference at Metropolitan State University.
Their workshop, entitled The Pathway to Education Equity is Paved with Community at the Center, drew over 30 participants who were hungry to develop solutions to education equities in their communities.
Brett and Julia came to our weekly staff meeting the following Tuesday, energized by the conversations they had and reported on the learning the group did together.
The session was interactive and included small group work to unpack a scenario about participation of parents of color in parent-teacher conferences. At the center of their conversations were the community experiences that were behind low participation in parent-teacher conferences, and the Pathway to Education Equity tool that Voices developed in collaboration with community partners.
The Pathway Tool draws on the experiences of students and families in assessing the barriers to education equity. The development of solutions also centers these experiences, recognizing that building true and sustainable equity in schools must address the structural barriers that prevent indigenous students and students of color from experiencing positive learning environments that support their full growth.
Centering these experiences does not mean that educators, administrators, and other community members are not part of the process. In fact, they are essential to seeing the barriers, developing solutions, and implementing them fully. The Pathway process recognizes the necessity of all these stakeholders coming together in a way that furthers the vision for education equity, allowing everyone to see how we may all be part of supporting inequities – and that we all have a role in dismantling structural barriers.
“Each small group identified the equity goals that emerged from the scenario, and narrowed down to one or two to work on,” said Julia, “and then the participants used the Pathway tool to begin crafting solutions. The groups came up with some great things like holding conferences on weekends and making home visits.”
At the end of the workshop, a participant asked Julia what excited her most about her work. “I told her I love working with parents and youth to develop opportunities for them to co-create the solutions with their school. They start seeing that they are the experts.”
Brett reflected to the group what he loves most about the Pathway tool. “I told them that, for me, what I like most about the tool is that it allows me to dream again. It reminds me of the potential that is education. It reminds me of why I am excited about education. The conversations that took place in that room were so powerful,” said Brett.
One participant shared that “It felt good to be in a room working on education equity that you don’t leave feeling guilty, or not knowing how to take action.”
Another reported plans to “definitely introduce the tool and Voices for Racial Justice to our district.”
The Voices team looks forward to supporting the expertise that already exists in communities by continuing to share this tool with others. Reach out to Julia Freeman to learn more.