Dismantling Education Inequities: Walking the Talk

An Important Conversation with Education Leaders

Recorded June 25th, 2020

Share this event


Atyani Howard

Chief Program Officer, New Teacher Center (NTC)


Sharif El-Mekki

Chief Executive Officer, The Center for Black Educator Development


Magaly Lavadenz

Distinguished Professor of English Learner Research, Policy and Practice, Executive Director, Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University


Keisha Rattray

Director, Program Strategy and Delivery, New Teacher Center (NYC)

Desmond Blackburn

Desmond Blackburn, Presenter & Panel Interviewer

Chief Executive Officer, New Teacher Center (NTC)


Erika Reese, Host

Senior Director, Internal Learning, New Teacher Center (NTC)

Dismantling Education Inequities: Walking the Talk

An Important Conversation with Education Leaders

During this discussion, we explored how a commitment to equity can be translated into reality. Here is a summary of what surfaced during our conversation:

Thoughts to Share

  • Our system is doing exactly what it has been designed to do – we have to undo the system to enact change
  • School systems and districts need educators who see social change as a mandatory part of the job; education justice means we have to be constantly vigilant
  • Note the distinction between a safe space and a brave space – genuinely and authentically engaging our voices can make it feel like the ground is trembling
  • This fight is everyone’s fight, white people need to step up and share the work
  • Equity efforts can be so well intentioned, and yet, in the absence of a larger structure within an organization to foster diversity, collaborate, and connect,  “task forces” can sometimes become the opposite of helpful
  • Even when you think you’ve done the work, there is more work to be done.

I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” – James Baldwin


Action to Take

  • Do the inner work: We’ve all been socialized in these cultures of inequities, so do the inner work to recognize your own biases, challenge them, and lead with humility. What is your place of privilege, and how can you position it for good?
  • Address mindset: In your equity efforts, act as if it were your own child being suppressed, bring that same energy to the effort
  • Audit: Within education, engage in frequent audits at different levels (from curriculum to expectations) and ask yourself: Where are the inequities showing up, and how can we change?
  • Invest: Remain committed to an equity agenda and execute in the face of economic pressures, invest energy and money, and center resources on students and communities
  • Be transparent: Establish equity-based goals and values, and be transparent about them so that the people you serve can have a stake in your accountability
  • Be prepared to push: Continue to foster equity-based conversations and opportunities, and be willing to show up in different ways
  • Remember: If racism is dirt, do the job of a washing machine. Follow the advice of Frederick Douglass and, “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”


The Education of Black People in the South 

By James Anderson

Mamma’s Planet Earth

By Vanessa Valencia

How To Be An Antiracist
By Ibram X. Kendi

Me and White Supremacy

By Layla F. Saad

Cultivating Genius: A Four‑Layered Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy

By Gholdy Muhammad

Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism 

By Tracey A. Benson and Sarah E. Fiarman

Courageous Leadership in Early Childhood Education: Taking a Stand for Social Justice

By Susi Long, Mariana Souto-Manning, Vivian Maria Vasquez.

We Want to Do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

By Bettina Love

Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development

Editors, Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, Margo Okazawa-Rey

Author Jawanza Kunjufu