Placing Racial Equity at the Heart of Education
ImpactTulsa actively encourages and supports school districts and partner institutions to create an educational model that places racial and ethnic equity at its center. We incorporate several practices in our activities that we hope to standardize in an attempt to improve outcomes for children of color. Additionally, ImpactTulsa has partnered with Tulsa Public Schools and ECONorthwest to develop a data-driven tool called the Child Equity Index (CEI), which can be used to understand how factors such as race and neighborhood conditions can influence a child’s outcome.
Why It Matters
Policymakers, school and district leaders can use this information to bridge opportunity gaps and support economic mobility for disadvantaged youth. The CEI strongly correlates with The Opportunity Atlas, which analyzes neighborhood-level estimates of economic mobility across the United States. The Atlas follows millions of children in their paths of affluence and poverty, and traces their outcomes to the neighborhoods that they were born into. The CEI aims to address Tulsa region particularities and highlight strategic improvement areas that can favor economic mobility. Together, our racial equity guidelines and available CEI data can serve to influence education policy.
What the Data Says
ImpactTulsa’s research indicates that the following StriveTogether recommendations can help improve outcomes and facilitate better economic mobility for disadvantaged and vulnerable youth, particularly if applied at school district level:
- Incorporate youth and family voice. Engage youth and family voices from communities of color to set racial equity priorities. Formalize ways in which youth and families have clear decision-making authority, design accountability structures, and create inclusive environments.
- Shift power. Create structures to shift power to youth and families to make decisions about education systems (such as advisory board where children can express their opinions about matters related to school climate and culture)
- Address the digital divide. All youth, families, and teachers should have access to the internet and Wi-Fi, sufficient devices for one-on-one learning, and technical assistance for caregivers, teachers, and students. A strong first step in achieving this goal is to assess the digital landscape in your community and create a plan to address the digital divide.
- Reallocate resources. Efforts should include the effective targeting of interventions and the application of targeted universalism to accelerate outcomes for groups systematically burdened by inequities. One specific action for the education sector is to modify student funding formulas, Title I distribution allocations, and the like to promote equity and ensure targeted distribution of resources to students from low-income households, students of color, and Indigenous students.
- Hold systems accountable and communicate systems-level inequities with data. Center racial and ethnic equity in data collection and reporting processes. Ensure data and outcomes are disaggregated by race and prioritize data collection at the systemic level. Avoid relying solely on individual-level data for documenting disparities and differences among students. Avoid deficit-based framing in data communication and analysis that blames disparities in outcomes on students and their families, rather than inequities in the system.
- Establish new data frameworks to amplify child well-being, health, and equity. Data protocols must change to center and prioritize the core dimensions of child well-being (health, education, housing, economic mobility, etc.) and illustrate how these dimensions lead to better outcomes for students and families. Incorporate new data protocols for tracking student attendance, student experience, social-emotional learning, culture, climate family engagement, health, safety, and stability. In absence of traditional academic data, these metrics and indicators will be critically important in gauging student well-being and success.
- Change policy. Change public and organizational practices and policies to support youth and families of color. Advocacy and mobilization efforts should change local, state and/or national policies that perpetuate disparities and shift resources to improve outcomes for youth and families of color. A specific policy action for education institutions is to examine the role of policing in schools and implement new policies that eliminate racial disparities and bias in student discipline.