Archive for the ‘Equity’ Category

What We’re Reading: A Timeless Reminder of Structural Inequity

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

What I’m Reading: The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson

 

Author William Julius Wilson has his fans far and wide. He is a National Medal of Science winner.  National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates has called him an intellectual deity, a “gawd;” and David Simon was inspired by his work when creating “The Wire.” Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said about Wilson: “He has influenced me more than anyone I could think of.”

 

Not bad for an octogenarian sociologist.

 

Wilson’s book “The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy” is a short, accessible read that reveals how structures and institutions, especially in American cities like Wilmington, have contributed to the inequitable conditions we see today—and how multifaceted and intergenerational the problems of concentrated poverty are.

 

Although this book is 28 years old, its principles are still instructive. I still reflect on Wilson’s research, because it helped cement for me that racism is structural and institutional—and that social issues cannot be solved by one sector alone.

 

The author’s proposed solutions are multi-sector, including ideas around employing the long-term unemployed, and multi-tier neighborhood support programs like the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to curb the cycle of generational poverty through parenting workshops, early learning, and child-oriented health programs.

 

Twenty-eight years later, Wilson’s work serves as a good reminder for those of us who hope to impact these complex issues not to dismiss the history that got us here—and to expand our horizons across sectors.

What We’re Reading: Asking the Right Questions about Equity and Career Pathways

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What We're Reading
The education world is facing an equity crisis. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners (to name a few) remain underserved by our current system. While many fight for solutions, gaps in our collective knowledge and understanding of the complexities around educational inequity linger.

Each month, the Rodel team will share some thoughts on a book, essay, article, or video related to equity in education with the hope that we will challenge both ourselves and others to think more inclusively about education reform.

 

 

What I’m Reading: 10 Equity Questions to Ask about Career and Technical Education, by Nancy Hoffman

 

In my role at Rodel, I focus on helping Delaware students pursue the college and career options that interest them. My passion for this work stems from my own experiences. As a first generation college student, I was incredibly lucky to have parents who encouraged me to go to college and a school counselor (thanks Mrs. Thievon!) who took an interest in me and my future and provided me with the resources and scholarship information needed to apply to college. Even then, the transition to college was academically and financially challenging and my career path was unclear. So, when I came across Nancy Hoffman’s article, 10 Equity Questions To Ask About Career and Technical Education, I reflected on the experiences that encouraged me to enter education policy work.

 

Hoffman raises great questions about the range and quality of programming, the opportunities and options that are (or are perceived to be) available, and how programs are being communicated to students and families. She notes that there is a history advising and placing students, especially low income and youth of color, into programs that do not prepare them to enter middle- or high-wage careers with clear advancement opportunities. This piece underscored the importance of making sure that all students are enrolling in and completing their career pathways (including work-based learning experiences) and transitioning to pursuit of a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.

 

The questions posed in the article raised a host of other questions for me, including: How can we better support schools in talking to first-generation college students and their families to understand the range of career pathways and postsecondary options available to them? How can we make a seamless connection to the college access, scholarship and financial resources, and academic supports that will allow them to be successful both in their pathway and as they transition to postsecondary education?

 

This piece reminded me that career pathways can be a game-changing opportunity for every student if they have the information and tools to take full advantage of them. My parents, school counselor, and college advisor helped me overcome academic and financial challenges and helped me find direction and relevance in my own career path. Without that support, I know I would not have graduated from college. How can we support every student and their family, especially those who have been traditionally left behind, to have access to pathways, postsecondary, and career information that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them?

A Quick Look at the School Funding Transparency Bill

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Senate Bill 172 was introduced in the State Senate this week, representing a monumental foot in the door for addressing Delaware’s arcane school funding system—should  it be enacted.

 

Delaware, as we’ve written about before, employs a 70-year-old school funding system that is complex, inequitable, and inflexible.

 

Delaware also does not report education spending uniformly at the school level, meaning parents, taxpayers, or anyone else, can’t see how money gets spent at schools—or compare schools in terms of funding and spending. This lack of transparency means we don’t know whether students (especially ones who need extra support—like English learners, or students from low-income households) are getting the help they need at school.

 

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sokola, aims to do three things:

  • Establish a statewide approach for districts and charter schools for reporting expenditures at the school level and the school’s share of central office expenditures so that per-pupil expenditure data is consistent and comparable across the state.
  • Report per-pupil expenditure data with key information that provide context on differences in funding such as school type, student demographics, and student outcomes.
  • Provide optional trainings to increase understanding of the data.

 

The hope is that the legislation will pave the way for accessibility and transparency into important school finance information. That way, parents can know what their school is spending on, and how it’s supporting students, board members and school leaders can make better, data-driven decisions, and schools and districts can learn from each other.

 

As Delaware begins to work on implementing a new set of federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act—which require school-level financial reporting—the time is right to address transparency by presenting funding data in a comprehensive and accessible way.

 

It’s been a long time coming. Student Success 2025, which launched in 2015 from the Vision Coalition of Delaware, recommended more transparent education funding systems, and “as spending increases and revenue slows, we need to make the expenditure of those dollars easily understood by taxpayers so that they can encourage maximizing the use of every dollar.” The News Journal’s editorial board last week called for a “clearer picture of school spending,” while the 30-member-oraganization-and-counting Education Equity Delaware coalition continued its advocacy for a long-term update to the education funding system by enlisting former U.S. Sec. of Education John King for a half-day summit.

 

Want to learn more? Check out the Education Equity Coalition website. Want to take it a step further? Follow this link to voice your support of Senate Bill 172 with your local elected official.

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