Exploring Equity, Access and Social Justice

Posted: August 15, 2012 by Donna Bivens in Uncategorized

Earlier this summer, BBDP represented Union of Minority Neighborhoods –in making a presentation to the External Advisory Committee on Improving School Choice (EAC). Our program Equity, Access and Social Justice included a film clip of Can We Talk?  followed by six wonderful speakers:  educator Dr. Theresa Perry, community activist Carmen Pola, historian Dr. James Green, education activist Gina Chirichigno, BPS Achievement Gap director Dr. Carroll Blake, and special education advocate Toni Saunders. The panelists explored the many aspects of equity and access in public school education paying special attention to race and class disparities (see videos below). After the presentation, EAC and community members engaged in a lively discussion of the issues raised. (see notes from this discussion and the journaling on the film clip here)

Not surprisingly, many equity, access and quality education themes and conflicts that came up during the desegregation crisis of the 70’s continue to present themselves—for example,  issues of the conflict between “neighborhood schools” and equal access to quality schools, questions of whether equity is possible when the economic and social resources of different communities are so unequal, demands for  culturally appropriate curricula and instructors, disparities of expectations for learning based on race or class, etc.  Moreover, Gina Cirichigno of One Nation Indivisible made a presentation on the nationwide trend toward race and class resegregation and deepening disparities.  These minefields are not unique to Boston. They echo from the past because they are systemic and grounded deep in our history.

While many of the EAC members were unable to attend due to summer schedules, those present found the panels and the discussion to be helpful and very relevant to their work looking at equity and access issues in the school assignment process.  The EAC discussed this program at its July 16 meeting.

All seemed to agree that these issues will not go away with any new assignment plan or any one reform measure. These are issues for the long haul and BBDP and UMN  look forward to continuing to working with the many stakeholders  committed to grounding  in our history in order to address the systemic barriers to equity and access to quality public education for all.

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