Just as a rainbow rises after a storm, today represents a step into a bold and vibrant future for K-12 education. The unprecedented global pandemic in concert with a racial reckoning in the United States has sown the seeds for a harvest of ideas and innovations designed to embrace our students as their whole selves.
In moving forward, we do not want to turn to a prior playbook that is rooted in inequity. We have an unprecedented opportunity to wholly transform how schools work in partnership with communities to effectively support our students.
The good news is we are emerging after a tumultuous fifteen months with:
- New policies and practices to support learning at-home and in-school, a deeper focus on students’ mental and emotional health, more robust school-and-community connections, expanded teacher peer collaboration models and much more.
- A recognition of the need for teaching and learning policies, systems and practices centered in the diversity of our 55+ million students who embody an array of experiences, environments, identities and cultures -- and that each student must be seen and valued in every dimension of learning.
- A willingness to create and actualize conditions in our K-12 systems where students have equitable access to learning opportunities and pathways and are not identified by deficit-centric academic and economic constructs, such as “gaps” or “poverty”.
We -- the RISE UP Coalition -- call this The New Dawn. And together we have developed an Action Agenda Honoring the Vibrant Diversity of Students.
As a coalition of leaders of color representing school districts, charter networks and organizations across the country, we offer The New Dawn: An Action Agenda Honoring the Diversity of Students as a national blueprint to systems and school leaders for collaborating with communities to transform systems and practice by:
- Auditing existing inequitable policies, practices and data
- Creating the conditions for equity-centered transformational policies to take root
- Defining a set of asset-centered priorities and actions
- Implementing demonstrated solutions that have been natively-designed to effectively support the diverse experiences, cultures and identities of the student population
While our focus is anchored in how school districts and charter networks can design and support the conditions that enable students of color -- who have clearly been disproportionately impacted by COVID and historical inequities -- to thrive, we acknowledge that inequities are not solely impacting students of color. We recognize that white students’ across the country are experiencing high-poverty and a lack of access to quality education, from rural-to-urban areas.
We also know that the intersection of race and poverty compounds systemic inequities for ALL. Reference Targeted Universalism Policy and Practice by john a. powell, Stephen Mendenian and Wendy Ake and the report Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie Jones and Sonia R. Porter.
By effectively addressing the intersectionality, the RISE UP Coalition’s work will support ALL students in having access to high-quality, richly diverse learning experiences.
As education practitioners, entrepreneurs and innovators, we know from experience that to address the intersection and create the conditions for students to thrive:
- Schools must deeply partner with communities and families as imagineers and co-designers of a new learning ecosystem
- Innovation must be defined by how a solution -- a framework, program, curriculum or tool -- recognizes, reflects and rewards the vibrant dimensions of a child
- Learning context is as important as content
- Every student has an identity that must be centered and celebrated for us to achieve the definition of high-quality education
Our hope is that The New Dawn: An Action Agenda Honoring the Diversity of Studentssparks new ideas, creates opportunities for relationship and trust building and centers innovation in communities as partners to schools.
We invite you to join us on a journey to creating a thriving equitable education ecosystem that addresses the vibrant diversity of students!
Join us as advocates and allies in this work! Sign our interest form.