Equity 101- The Equity Framework: Book 1
Publication Year: 2011
Equity is key to eliminating achievement gaps
Can today's schools help all students achieve at grade level, regardless of race, income, ethnicity, gender, and language? In Equity 101, visit schools and school systems that have created the expectations, rigor, relevancy, and relationships in order that high levels of achievement become the norm, no matter the student's diversity. This first volume of a four-book series outlines a simple, yet powerful Equity Framework for school leaders to implement institutional equity.
Based on the common characteristics observed in highly successful diverse schools throughout North America, Equity 101 provides the foundation necessary for educational leaders and teachers to equitize their school and school systems by addressing systemic limitations, racism, and biases. Join best-selling author Curtis Linton in examining Whiteness as a ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Finding Equity
- Realizing Equity
- My Path to Equity
- Black and White
- Understanding My History
- Embracing Diversity
- Discovering Race
- Norming Difference
- Authenticating My Present
- The Equity Lens
- Chapter 2: Defining Equity
- Equity Success: Northrich Elementary
- Exploring Equity
- Describing Equity
- Equity Definition
- Deconstructing Equity
- Chapter 3: Framing Equity
- Equity Success: Elmont Memorial High School
- Framework Versus Strategy
- The Equity Framework
- Equity Framework: Characteristics
- Equity Framework: Leadership
- Equity Framework: Culture
- Equity Framework: Practice
- Chapter 4: Personal Equity
- Equity Success: Frankford Elementary
- Individual Collectivism
- Overcoming Biases
- Acknowledging Privilege
- Missionary Syndrome
- Personal Equity Equals Passion
- Chapter 5: Institutional Equity
- Equity Success: Sanger Unified School District
- Understanding Institutionalism
- Dominant Culture: Whiteness
- Institutionalized Whiteness
- Who Equitably Benefits?
- Institutionalized Equity Equals Persistence
- Chapter 6: Professional Equity
- Equity Success: Dunbar High School
- Shifting Practice
- Practice to Theory
- Equitizing Standards
- Implementing Equity
- Chapter 7: Moral Equity
- Equity Plus Excellence
- Equity Success: Behrman Charter Elementary
- Staring Down Failure
- The Journey Behind—The Journey Ahead
- Internalizing Equity
- Driving Equity
[Page ii]This book is dedicated to the two most amazing kids I could ever hope to father, and the loving mother who is raising them.
Dominic and Maya, I write this for you so that the schools you attend can fulfill the limitless potential you show every day. The two of you actualize my dreams.
Melody, I can only write this because of who you are as a person, as a teacher, as a mother, and as my partner. I am better because of you.
Copyright © 2011 by Curtis Linton
All rights reserved. When forms and sample documents are included, their use is authorized only by educators, local school sites, and/or noncommercial or nonprofit entities that have purchased the book. Except for that usage, no part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The Equity Success sections throughout this book include quotations from individuals featured in various programs produced by the School Improvement Network and the Video Journal of Education. Unless otherwise noted, these educators are featured in the professional development program No Excuses! How to Increase Minority Student Achievement, produced by the Video Journal of Education (2006) and the Who Says? Motivational Video series produced by the School Improvement Network (2007–2010). All programs are available online through the School Improvement Network's PD 360 on-demand professional development service.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Equity 101—Book 1: The Equity framework / Curtis Linton; foreword by Bonnie M. Davis.
Includes bibliographical references.
9781412995177 978-1-4129-9517-7 (pbk.)
1. Educational equalization—United States—Case studies. I. Title. II. Title: Equity framework.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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Curtis Linton is both an outsider and an insider. As an outsider, he observes educators through the lens of a camera and the pen of an author. He has no degree in education, yet he has been in more than two thousand classrooms and hundreds of schools to record what he finds. He has seen more than most educators.
As an insider, Curtis Linton is a White male who fits the norms of the middle-class, White person in our society. If you saw him in the halls of your school, you might assume he is a principal or a teacher. He appears a bit young to be a superintendent.
Yet, within his most intimate relationships, Curtis is again an outsider. He is a father of two children of Color, and he must watch them navigate experiences he will never have while he supports them from the outside. At the same time, Curtis possesses a unique view of race and racism since he views it through the prism of privilege while watching two beautiful children actualize the messages they receive from the media, their teachers, and their peers.
Curtis is both an outsider and an insider, and therein lies the uniqueness of his perspective in this book. Because Curtis views what occurs in classroom after classroom and school after school and district after district as an outsider, he brings a fresh perspective—a perspective of one who sees from both the outside and the inside. In this Equity 101, he offers that knowledge by presenting both a framework for the journey to understand equity and the tools with which to achieve it. According to Curtis, he is a White person who passionately believes we must “center ourselves in equity,” and create educational institutions where students “can self-actualize their own future success.”
[Page viii]In Equity 101, Curtis accomplishes many things; however, two things are especially meaningful for our understanding of how equity exists or does not exist in our schools. First, he looks at himself to understand better the role he plays in hindering or promoting equity in education. While documenting his own history, he digs deeply into the consciousness of the White male who is an insider in our society, yet who comes from a religious background, Mormonism, that has caused him to be perceived as an outsider. He shares his deepest fears, embarrassments, prejudices, and humiliations along with his greatest joys. In addition, he tells us how he and his wife transformed their daily experiences by bringing two children of Color into their lives. He shares his highest hopes and dreams for them—hopes and dreams not unlike those of any loving father who wants the best for his children. Once again, we learn about Curtis as both the outsider and the insider who has a reason for sharing his story. Curtis shares his personal story in order for us to engage in our own excavation of our deepest fears, embarrassments, prejudices, and humiliations centered upon race. This is a step in the process to understanding equity, and as White people in our society, if we never take this journey, we “deflect the conversation,” as Curtis says, and remain inured to our own complicity in the racial story of our society.
The second thing Curtis does in Equity 101 is offer a foundation for change: an Equity Framework, an online community, and strategies proven in the schools to have closed the gap . Equity 101 is the foundation and the first book in a series of four books to address this issue, provide a map for the journey to equity, and establish our work within a community where we can share our collective challenges and successes. This series provides us with support for closing the educational inequity gaps and creates a climate for equity in our school districts.
Curtis is committed to sharing the hard stuff that creates barriers between White folks of privilege and people of Color. He is committed to sharing the strategies that begin to break down barriers. He is committed to working with White people to further emphasize that we White people need to do our race work on ourselves; we should not expect people of Color to “fix” us. We need to not opt out when the work becomes uncomfortable, difficult, and bereft of progress. Instead, we must find ways to support each other as we dig deeper inside our psychic wounds and expose our roadblocks: [Page ix]whether they be prejudices, racist thoughts and actions, or instances of our own privilege.
Curtis says “the purpose of engaging in this process of centering one's self in equity is simple: if you do not understand deeply your own realities, it is very hard to help others—such as your students—successfully negotiate their own realities.” So much of it is about understanding our own realities, and Curtis not only models how to do that in Equity 101, but gives us the tools to go beyond the modeling and engage in the process.
Curtis clearly defines the purpose of this book: “to define equity, illustrate it clearly, and illuminate its impact on student learning through the stories of highly successful schools and school systems that are eliminating their achievement gaps and lifting all students to high levels of success.” Unlike other books focused solely on equity, Equity 101 offers compelling evidence we can immediately see and hear through video, a framework to guide the work, and a community of learners with whom to learn. Each chapter offers descriptions of educators who are closing gaps and instituting equity in their schools. These are not composite descriptions from several schools; these are individual schools that have closed the gap and share how they achieved their goals. We engage with educators who have accomplished the task of lifting all students to high levels of success.
Curtis did not have to enter the field of education and focus on equity. Instead, he could have walked away, asserted his privilege, and denied the urgency of equity work for White people. However, while observing and interviewing and becoming part of so many classrooms’ stories, he realized he could not afford to walk away, and as a result, we have Equity 101 as a map for our journey.
None of us can afford to walk away. Our children are filling too many prisons—prisons with bars, prisons of poverty, and prisons of potential not realized. For the sake of our children, we do not have the choice to deflect the conversation. We must center ourselves in equity, and in this book, Equity 101, we find a path that takes us through reflection, talk, and action, all modeled on equity actualized in numerous school communities, proving it can be done.
Curtis, you may have entered education as an outsider—but now you are a respected insider. Thank you for Equity 101.—
This book is only possible because of the thousands of amazing educators I have worked with over the years. Truly, you all inspire me. Your love of your students, your dedication to their success, and your willingness to accept them for who they are helped me define equity. I especially want to thank the dedicated educators of the schools featured in this book, including Northrich Elementary, Elmont Memorial High School, Rancho Verde High School, Frankford Elementary, Sanger Unified School District, Dunbar High School, and Behrman Charter Elementary. Your work continues to inspire.
Many people have profoundly impacted me and the writing of this book. Dan, you are a dream of an editor and an incredible person as well. Bonnie, you have believed in me, pushed me, challenged me, and partnered with me, and I owe this series to you. Mejkin, you provide just the writing support I need. Glenn, you brought color in to my pale life, and I am eternally grateful. Kathleen, you trust what I say which has given me the strength to push further. Dorothy, Jamie, Graig, Mike, Michael, Jenny, Jen, Rachael, Yolanda, and so many others, thank you for my education.
I also want to thank the dedicated staff at the School Improvement Network. I never thought I would have the chance to work with such creative, passionate, and dedicated people. I need to especially thank my partners in this endeavor—my parents John Linton and Blanch Linton who took out their retirement so that teachers could learn from other teachers, and my brothers Chet and Cory who are supporting me in fulfilling dreams I never imagined. Working with you is truly inspirational. I also want to acknowledge the rest of the team who put up with all I stand for: Jeff, Jeremy, DJ, Peter, Joe, Jason, Mike, Tracie, Steve, Ben, Sara, Jeannie, Amy, John, Tom, Michelle, Trent, and so many others who are making the School Improvement Network a reality.
[Page xi]Most of all, I want to thank my family for supporting me in writing this over weekends, on family trips, and all night long far too many times. Kids, hopefully you are too young to remember. Dear, I owe it all to you.
And, last but not least, I want to thank Jonsi for making all this bearable.Publisher's Acknowledgments
Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:
- Pamela V. Booker, Supervisor, Office of Equity and Integration Roseville Area Schools, Roseville, MN
- Isla Govan, Consultant and Facilitator, Cross Cultural Connections, LLC Renton, WA 98055
- Donna Graves, Director, Equity Training and Development Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, MD
- Josephine Jackson, Executive Director, Equity and Inclusion Duval County Public Schools, Jacksonville, FL
- Dorothy J. Kelly, Retired Education Administrator Kirkwood, MO
- Naomi Khalil, Director, Instructional Equity Farmington Public Schools, Farmington, MI
- Dennis Lubeck, Former Director of History Programs, Cooperating School Districts St. Louis Area, MO
- Tiffany S. Powell, Coordinator, Office of Diversity Manhattan-Ogden USD 383, Manhattan, KS 66502
- Shawn Stibbins, Teacher Wayzata Public Schools, Wayzata, MN
About the Author
This is a book about equity in education. Equity is not about equal treatment of all students. Rather, it is about equal outcomes achieved by individualizing the instruction and support for each and every child. Equity is about all students succeeding, especially when measured according to differences such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, language, family background—the list of diversities within our students goes on and on. This effort has been traditionally referenced as “closing the achievement gaps” between students from the dominant White middle-class norm and students from traditionally underserved or oppressed populations. Building equity in education shifts the focus of responsibility for academic achievement from the students to the professional administrators and teachers who are the educators in the school. Students have to do their part, but the adults in the building need to teach in a way so that all students can succeed.
Throughout this book, when I use the term diverse to describe students, I am referencing directly the racial and other characteristics that set apart a student from the dominant White and middle-class norms that have so defined the practices and culture of our schools. Serving one “norm” rather than the vast diversities now so apparent in today's students only guarantees the continuation of educational inequities. As educators work to directly address their school's racial and other inequities, they will accomplish equity, which is eliminating student achievement disparities and lifting all students to high levels of success.
For schools to achieve this, educators need to address equity at three levels: personal, institutional, and professional. In the first three chapters, I follow this format:[Page xiv]
- Personally, I share my own path toward understanding equity and how it has impacted my life and work.
- Institutionally, I define what equity means for an educational institution and describe a school that achieved equity for all students.
- Professionally, I present the Equity Framework, shown as follows, which is an organizational tool that schools and school systems can use to guide their equity efforts.
Real stories of change are critically important in achieving equity. Throughout this book, I share the stories of schools, school systems, and educators who went through a change process personally, institutionally, and professionally to achieve equity for their students. These stories illustrate the process of equitizing education so that it works for all students, no matter their personal diversities.
The next three chapters go into greater depth in describing personal equity, institutional equity, and professional equity:
- Personal equity guides the process of centering one's self in equity and uncovering one's own biases, stereotypes, and privileges.
- Institutional equity explores how a school and school system can overcome institutionalized factors that limit student achievement, especially for students of Color and those from diverse backgrounds.
- Professional equity focuses on how efforts to successfully implement equitable practices can assure individualized support for all students.
The book ends with moral equity: a plea from me to you to engage honestly and sincerely in this work of educating students equitably, since their futures depend upon our own successful efforts as educators.
[Page xv]Throughout the book, I also prompt you to use the equity lens as your tool in deciphering the equity efforts of the educators in these stories—and ultimately in understanding your own efforts to equitize your work as an educator. At the end of each chapter, engage in the Equity in Action implementation exercises, which include discussion questions, reflection prompts, and links to the School Improvement Network's on-demand professional development resource, PD 360, where you will find interactive forums and videos of the schools in this book.
This is the first book in a four-part series presenting the Equity Framework in depth. This first book describes what equity is and what it looks like in schools. The remaining three books present the strategy sets of the Equity Framework: culture, practice, and leadership. The first two are coauthored with classroom equity expert Bonnie Davis. Rather than jumping straight to the strategies as presented in the other books in this series, I encourage you to begin by exploring now what equity is and what it looks like for you as an educator in your classroom, school, and system. Engaging this way is like understanding the weather—you can have coping strategies to deal with rain, snow, and heat, but without understanding how the weather works, you might end up trying to use a snow shovel to deal with a heat wave. By only focusing on strategies that address student needs, you will struggle to understand fully why the strategies even matter, and how they fit in the overall effort to build equity for all students.
In our collective hundred-plus year effort to succeed at educating all students, equity is now what matters. Equity is about each and every individual student achieving in our schools and learning what they need to succeed in society. Equity is a journey both for you as an educator and for the institution of which you are a part. Equity 101 aims to engage you the reader in a journey—a journey toward eliminating racial disparity and other injustices at the personal, institutional, and professional levels. In sharing my story, I hope that you will better understand your own story and embark on a journey toward a greater understanding of equity and what it takes for all students to succeed.Sincerely,[Page xvi]
The next three books of this Equity 101 series address equity leadership, culture, and practice.
Equity 101—Book 2: Leadership explains how to be an equity leader by exploring what it means to actualize equity and drive a school or system toward accomplishing equity for all students, regardless of race and background. Equity leadership requires that formal and informal school leaders authenticate their work in order to truly drive the equitization of schools. Equity 101—Book 2: Leadership features:
- Equity leadership school success
- Leadership within the Equity Framework
- Working definition of equitable leadership
- Authenticating equity leadership
- Innovating toward equity
Equity 101—Book 3: Culture, coauthored with Bonnie Davis, focuses on creating a classroom, school, and system culture where excellence is achieved for every student, and where diversity becomes the norm. Equity can only occur in a culture where it is safe for adults and students alike to take risks, stretch, and learn, and where faculty understand themselves racially and culturally as well as their students. Equity 101—Book 3: Culture features:
- Equity culture school success
- Culture within the Equity Framework
- Working definition of equitable culture
- Becoming culturally competent
- Actualizing an equitable learning culture
[Page 154]Equity 101—Book 4: Practice, coauthored with Bonnie Davis, develops pedagogical skills that drive equitable practice in the classroom, offering an understanding for why traditional teaching practices actually result in student achievement inequities, and how to replace them with teaching skills, strategies, and pedagogical practices that accomplish true equity for all students, regardless of race and background. Equity 101—Book 4: Practice features:
- Equitable practice school success
- Practice within the Equity Framework
- Working definition of equitable practice
- Culturally relevant classroom practice
- Equitizing classroom management
- Equitizing curriculum
- Equitizing assessment
- Equitizing instruction
I look forward to joining you in this journey toward educational equity. Please keep me informed of your progress and the successful—equitable—practices you implement by joining the free Equity 101 group on PD 360 at http://www.equity101.schoolimprovement.com. I engage regularly with the Equity 101 community online and share the stories of success that emanate from this work. You can also contact me at
- Curtis Linton
- Vice President
- School Improvement Network
- 32 West Center Street
- Midvale, UT 84047 USA
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