2018 November election series: Who will lead with an Education Equity Lens?

My favorite season is summer – but my next favorite season is…. Election Season! Why do I get so excited? Well, this is a time to select leaders who reflect our values on social justice, education equity, and the future growth and health of our communities.

The right to vote was hard fought for women and people of color, so I never take it for granted that it’s my duty to vote and honor the social justice fight it took to grant me the right to vote in the United States.  And, as we have all come to realize, this particular election will definitely determine the policies and practices that will govern our state for years to come.  This is why we urge you, to urge others, not to miss this key election on November 6, 2018!

As we continue our MnEEP series on Midterm Elections 2018, here are some important ways to think about what it means to lead with an equity lens and key questions you can ask candidates to consider about building race equity.

What does it mean to lead with an Equity Lens? 

MnEEP’s Big Bold Goal #1 asks of educators and race equity advocates to work toward the vision of a culturally responsive system and leadership of school communities that “Lead with an Equity Lens.”  Essentially, this lens means looking at decisions such as hiring, resource allocation, program scheduling, curriculum asking the key questions of equity such as:

“Who is being most disproportionately impacted by this decision?”

“What does the data tell us about disparities with regards to this issue in my school?”

“How have we consulted the particular student or family group disproportionately impacted to help shape recommendations around this issue – to close opportunity gaps ultimately?”

Key questions for candidates

Question 1. “How has this candidate addressed or commented on race equity issues in my community–especially race equity in education issues such as diversifying the teacher field, creating culturally responsive curriculum, and/or immigrant youth access to education?”

(See MnEEP website for key issues impacting communities of color, immigrant youth and American Indian youth in education www.mneep.org)

Question 2. “What has this candidate said about funding for education?”

Question 3. Another important area to consider is just how reflective their campaign is of Minnesota’s diverse community and the important voice of cultural and American Indian communities in policy-making–“Did this candidate represent equity in their staffing and campaign stop decisions during their campaign?  Do you feel like they represent the notion that it’s best to consult with cultural communities or American Indian communities to gather input on key policies affecting their lives?”

The last guidance to asking these questions is that it is not limited to just school board elections, while very important, we must start to ask politicians at all levels of government how they support key issues of race equity in education.

From the Governor’s office, who selects the Commissioner of Education in Minnesota and who sets direction for funding of education, to local state legislators, and county commission roles—all of our elected leaders set the tone and make some aspect of decisions that determine how much education equity will matter in our communities and thus will influence school board members and educators in their approaches as well.

There is still plenty of time to review the websites for the major party gubernatorial candidates for Minnesota 2018 to see their take on education and stances that impact race equity in education.

Here is a link to the Jeff Johnson education area of their website: http://www.johnsonforgovernor.org/issues

Here is a link to the Tim Walz-Peggy Flannagan education area of their website:  https://walzflanagan.org/our-agenda/education/

To find out who will be on your specific ballot, visit: https://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/

Happy Voting!

Posted in 2018 Election, Our Voices

Jennifer Godinez View posts by Jennifer Godinez

Jennifer works in partnership with Minnesota communities to build Race Equity Plans and advance policies and practices that promote culturally responsive classrooms and encourage student success.
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