Are we being honest? How the CI4E team addressed the challenges of building an equity-focused resource hub

Home News & Featured Resources Are we being honest? How the CI4E team addressed the challenges of building an equity-focused resource hub

Are we being honest? How the CI4E team addressed the challenges of building an equity-focused resource hub

HUB NEWS - December 09, 2022

Three years ago, MAEC took on the exciting challenge of building a resource hub to help schools, school systems, and community organizations center equity in their continuous improvement efforts. Our biggest fear was not hitting the mark, particularly when advocating for equity and social justice to a national audience of educators and community organizations from so many different experiences and backgrounds. This task feels especially challenging as it seems more and more difficult to get people together to recognize and address the disparities, attacks, and neglect of marginalized communities brought on by history, systems, and individuals.

The CI4E team spent hours discussing image placements, webpage layouts, headers, and illustrations. These conversations would lead to important questions: What are our audiences going through? Are we being too soft or too abrupt in our language? Are teams ready to authentically apply these resources to their efforts?

We scrutinized our word choice, the design of our guided pathways survey tool, and the filters used in our resource library to address some key considerations:

Ensure that equity isn’t a supplement—Equity work begins with self.
Education has embraced continuous improvement because it provides a versatile methodology to address problems. So, we might easily assume that continuous improvement can address inequity in its current form, but that is not the case. Our history and data reveal that disparities between privileged and marginalized populations persist despite beliefs and efforts that claim to provide opportunities for all. We often bring these beliefs to the table. And many efforts that “add” equity to existing efforts often fail to reach equity goals.

It is important for team members to self-reflect and develop equity-oriented mindsets so that the mission and goals of equity work are a part of the effort’s DNA.

Don’t turn people away—Use language and terms that challenge and support teams.
We anticipate that people from all levels of understanding and knowledge will visit the hub, from those who don’t think much of equity to others who embrace equity as the driving force of their careers. For many, there is a large amount of misunderstanding, fear, and triggering feelings related to equity work. And for others, using words such as “oppression,” “privilege,” and “discrimination” describes a reality they must address daily.

We don’t claim to have found the perfect language that balances the range of worldviews that will review the CI4E Resource Hub. But, we are mindful of the challenge. We continually work to provide enough support and empathy to those less familiar with equity work and those who work against oppression every day. We encourage you to take on this challenge and embrace the opportunity to build understanding so we can work together to support students and families that seek the opportunities they deserve.

Show people that this can work—Ground resources and tools in real-life experiences
One final consideration is ensuring that the resources and tools align with the day-to-day experiences of students, educators, and community partners. That’s where our guided pathways come in. Pathways are made up of questions that encourage teams to consider the role of equity in their effort’s representation, structures, and decision-making processes. These questions can be answered individually or as a group, allowing new information and understanding to be incorporated into your process.

We aim to promote a supportive and encouraging learning community by sharing these considerations. We will have new features, resources, and updates that address our ongoing conversations and challenges, and we encourage you to share your ideas and feedback through our contact form or by submitting a resource update request. Welcome to the CI4E Resource Hub.

Hugo Nájera
Communications Specialist, MAEC

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