Missouri was recently called the “heart of racial tension in America.” After the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014 and the recent events on the campus of the University of Missouri, that title isn’t undeserved. But what’s happening at Mizzou—incidents of racism and bigotry—and what university leaders are doing (or not doing) about it sound eerily familiar.
America is at an inflection point about race. But do we realize it? The events happening at the University of Missouri are bringing the discussion—and experience—of race, racism, and inequity to a head. But instead of engaging in that discussion, too often, we’re turning away from it. As we grapple with how to create organizations, institutions, and schools that serve all students equitably, we must have effective and meaningful strategies for diversity, equity, and inclusion that meet the needs of the students that they’re designed to serve.
There are a lot of reasons why teaching isn’t the sought after profession it should be, low pay and increasing pressure on teachers among them. But what if we’re missing something big here?
There are many reasons why people step out of the workforce for a short stint or for years—to raise young children, care for ailing parents or family members, or something else. No matter the necessity or choice of stepping out of the workforce, getting back in can be tough. Recently, some EP team members and I had the pleasure of attending the iRelaunch conference, where we met hundreds of talented people launching the second act of their careers. The pitch that we gave these professionals is the same one I’m sharing here: public education.
I recently heard an apt analogy* for diversity, equity, and inclusion work: that it’s akin to good dental hygiene. To take care of your teeth, you brush and floss daily, and go to the dentist regularly. Similarly, for diversity, equity, and inclusion work to be successful and meaningful, it must be an ongoing and daily practice. In the leadership development training our EP Fellows receive, we talk a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the spirit of helping more people get started, I want to share some of the resources we’ve used in our curriculum.
Education is a tough business. Teachers, principals, and schools are tasked with preparing our children to thrive for the rest of their lives, wherever their paths may take them. No small or easy task, that’s for sure. To help prepare our kids to be great citizens and the global leaders of tomorrow, diverse classrooms and schools can help us get there.
Recently, the New York Times article about Amazon’s “bruising” workplace made the rounds at Education Pioneers. I’ve spent my career in education, but a lot of what I read about professional life in a tech behemoth sounded familiar. I recognized the best and worst of mission-driven cultures that I’ve seen in certain, though not all, charter schools.
Photo Credit: Jason Parrish I applaud shining a big spotlight on what it takes to succeed as a public education leader. In other sectors and industries, few leadership roles are as complex and demanding as those in education. “The realities of the job are monumental—often managing billion-dollar budgets, hundreds of facilities and decisions that affect tens of thousands of teachers and other employees as well as hundreds of thousands of students and their families,” writes Christina Heitz, managing director of The Broad Academy, in her recent piece, “ What does it take to be an urban schools...
In the past seven months since EP published our report, From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact , I’ve talked to Alumni, partners, and others in Greater Boston about their desire to put good intentions to work and build more racially diverse and inclusive teams.
At last month’s National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans, I heard a lot about a handful of charter schools’ pain points: Facilities. Operations. Finance. And most of all, staff retention. Some of these issues are thornier than others (like facilities), but most of them come down to people. How can we keep the incredibly talented people who work at education organizations on our teams?