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Basic Principles for Equity Literacy

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An important aspect of equity literacy is its insistence on maximizing the integrity of transformative
equity practice. We must avoid being lulled by popular “diversity” approaches and frameworks that
pose no threat to inequity—that sometimes are popular because they are no real threat to inequity.
The basic principles of equity literacy help us ensure we keep a commitment to equity at the center of
our equity work and the broader equity conversation.

  1. The Direct Confrontation Principle: The path to equity requires direct confrontations with
    inequity—with interpersonal, institutional, cultural and structural racism and other forms of
    oppression. “Equity” approaches that fail to directly identify and confront inequity play a significant
    role in sustaining inequity.
  2. The Equity Ideology Principle: Equity is more than a list of practical strategies. It is a lens and
    an ideological commitment. There are no practical strategies that will help us develop equitable
    institutions if we are unwilling to deepen our understandings of equity and inequity and reject
    ideologies that are not compatible with equity.
  3. The Prioritization Principle: In order to achieve equity we must prioritize the interests of the
    students and families whose interests historically have not been prioritized. Every policy, practice,
    and program decision should be considered through the question, “What impact is this going to
    have on the most marginalized students and families? How are we prioritizing their interests?”
  4. The Redistribution Principle: Equity requires the redistribution of material, cultural, and social
    access and opportunity. We do this by changing inequitable policies, eliminating oppressive
    aspects of institutional culture, and examining how practices and programs might advantage some
    students over others. If we cannot explain how our equity initiatives redistribute access and
    opportunity, we should reconsider them.
  5. The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle: Educational outcome disparities are not the result of
    deficiencies in marginalized communities’ cultures, mindsets, or grittiness, but rather of inequities.
    Equity initiatives focus, not on “fixing” students and families who are marginalized, but on
    transforming the conditions that marginalize students and families.
  6. The One Size Fits Few Principle: No individual identity group shares a single mindset, value
    system, learning style, or communication style. Identity-specific equity frameworks (like grouplevel “learning styles”) almost always are based on simplicity and stereotypes, not equity.
  7. The Evidence-Informed Equity Principle: Equity approaches should be based on evidence for
    what works rather than trendiness. “Evidence” can mean quantitative research, but it can also
    mean the stories and experiences of people who are marginalized in your institution.Read more here.

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