Equity 101- The Equity Framework: Book 1


Curtis Linton

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    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.


    View Copyright Page


    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.”

    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: 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.

    Bonnie M.Davis


    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.

    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

    Curtis Linton is Vice President and Co-Owner of the School Improvement Network where he oversees all content created for PD 360, the Video Journal of Education, Equity 360, Common Core 360, and Observation 360. He is also organizer of the national Summit for Courageous Conversation to build racial equity in schools. In his career, he has documented the improvement efforts and best practices of successful schools across North America. Each year, he visits over one hundred classrooms and schools capturing how they succeed with all students.

    Linton has created numerous award-winning video-based staff development programs, including No Excuses! How to Increase Minority Student Achievement. He coauthored with Glenn Singleton the best-selling book, Courageous Conversation About Race, recipient of the 2006 National Staff Development Council's Book of the Year. Linton conducts paradigm-shifting workshops on building systemic equity to increase minority student achievement and implement effective classroom practices.

    Linton works extensively in the community, including serving on school equity committees and the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission, working with Families Supporting Adoption, and running the Domino Foundation, which supports families who have adopted transracially. Linton received his master's degree from the University of Southern California and currently resides with his wife Melody, son Dominic, and daughter Maya in Salt Lake City, Utah.


    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:

    • 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.

    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, CurtisLinton
  • Epilogue

    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

    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


    Blankstein, A. M. (2004). Failure is not an option: Six principles that guide student achievement in high-performing schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States (
    2nd ed.
    ). Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.
    Chenoweth, K. (2007). “It's being done”: Academic success in unexpected schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
    Cortes, C. E. (2002). The making and remaking of a multiculturalist. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Danielson, C. (2007). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching (
    2nd ed.
    ). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The right to learn. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Davis, B. M. (2006). How to teach students who don't look like you: Culturally relevant teaching strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Davis, B. M. (2009). The biracial and multiracial student experience: A journey to racial literacy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483350394
    DeCuir, J. T., & Dixson, A. D. (2004, June/July). “So when it comes out, they aren't that surprised that it is there”: Using critical race theory as a tool of analysis of race and racism in education. Educational Researcher, pp. 26–31. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/0013189X033005026
    EDEquity. (2006). Edwin Lou Javius executive biography. Retrieved from http://www.edequity.com/about_me.asp
    Equity. (2010). In Merriam-Webster online dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equity
    Fullan, M. (2003). The moral imperative of school leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Fullan, M. (2010). Motion leadership: The skinny on becoming change savvy. Online Course at http://www.pd360.com. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin & School Improvement Network.
    Gibbs, J. (2006). Reaching all by creating Tribes learning communities. Windsor, CA: CenterSource Systems.
    Gruwell, E. (1999). The freedom writers' diary: How a teacher and 150 teens used writing to change themselves and the world around them. New York: Doubleday.
    Henze, R., Katz, A., Norte, E., Sather, S. E., & Walker, E. (2002). Leading for diversity: How school leaders promote positive interethnic relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Howard, G. R. (1999). We can't teach what we don't know: White teachers, multiracial schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
    Johnson, R. (2002). Using data to close the achievement gap: How to measure equity in our schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Kluger, J. (2008). Simplexity: Why simple things become complex (and how complex things can be made simple). New York: Hyperion Books.
    Lindsey, R. B., Nuri Robins, K., & Terrell, R. D. (2003). Cultural proficiency: A manual for school leaders (
    2nd ed.
    ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Littky, D., & Grabelle, S. (2004). The big picture: Education is everyone's business. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    McIntosh, P. (1989, July/August). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Peace and Freedom, pp. 10–12.
    Reeves, D. B. (1996-1997). Making standards work: How to implement standards-based assessments in the classroom, school, and district (
    2nd ed.
    ). Denver, CO: Center for Performance Assessment.
    School Improvement Network. (2007-2010). Who Says? Motivational Video Series. Midvale, UT: School Improvement Network.
    Singleton, G., & Linton, C. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Terrell, R. D., & Lindsey, R. B. (2009). Culturally proficient leadership: The personal journey begins within. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Video Journal of Education (VJE). (2006). No excuses! How to increase minority student achievement. Midvale, UT: School Improvement Network.
    Willie, C. V. (2006). The real crisis in education: Failing to link excellence and equity. Voices in Urban Education: Equity After Katrina, 11(10).
    Wise, T. (2010). Colorblind: The rise of post-racial politics and the retreat from racial equity. San Francisco: City Lights Books/Open Media Series.

    CORWIN: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website