Guidance to Foster Ongoing Dialogue and Action About Race and Equity 

Resource List

Get a PDF of the complete list of resources for these pages. 


In the current climate of book bans, revisions of curriculum, this country has a moral obligation to lead, serve, and educate boldly and courageously. Given Chancellor Banks' dedication to "civics as essential to democracy in order to nurture engaged citizens," it is imperative that learning environments in NYC public schools prioritize justice and truth. The New York State guidelines for Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education, which were adopted by NYC public schools, place a strong emphasis on an education system that critically examines historical and contemporary power structures, honors and values identity perspectives, and centers them as assets in policies and practices. We have a responsibility to preserve our principles and our dedication to an educational system that acknowledges and values critical pedagogy, which views students as change agents.  

As the nation's largest school system, we must address the ways in which our institution perpetuates systems of harm entrenched by systemic racism, resulting in racial and inequities and disproportionate outcomes. Thus, accountability for us means reflecting, understanding biases, prioritizing learning and educating oneself, engaging in critical conversations about race, racism, racial violence, and white supremacy with our young people, community members, family, and colleagues, listening, unpacking the root causes of our current state, and, most importantly, taking action against injustice. Without this individual and collective commitment to our shared humanity, learning, and action, we risk replicating the inequities that harm our Black, Indigenous and racialized students of color, families, employees, and communities, and, ultimately, all of us.

This toolkit is intended to serve as a resource guide for NYC Public School staff to learn, reflect, build racial and equity literacy, and engage with one another, our students, families, and communities about inequities, specifically race, racism, and our current climate. We hope that by using these tools as a resource, our students and communities will be inspired to become change agents to combat racial and social injustices and inequities on a national and global scale. 

NYC Reads

These resources are intentionally aligned to the NYC Public Schools and Chancellor Bank’s ’s vision and goals for NYC Reads 

Literacy plays a critical role in advancing racial equity and justice in education. And, access to a quality education is a fundamental right that has been historically denied to marginalized communities, perpetuating cycles of inequality. Literacy serves as a gateway to knowledge and empowerment, enabling our communities to engage with information critically, challenge systemic injustices, and advocate for a just society. By fostering literacy skills, our school communities can begin to dismantle barriers that hinder equitable opportunities for all our students, particularly those who have been historically underserved, underrepresented and minoritized. Chancellor Banks has outlined four priorities: 1)Reimagining the student experience. 2)Scaling, sustaining, and restoring what works. 3)Prioritizing wellness and its link to student success and 4) Engaging families as true partners. Chancellor Banks stresses our collective responsibility to ensure every child and teacher has the tools, resources, and support needed to unlock their students' full potential and open every door of opportunity. 

In order for us to achieve this vision, the system has challenged us to tackle inequities in all forms throughout the system and invest in historically underserved communities (with resources, time, attention, and direction). Three major questions guide our thinking and action: 1. Where are we perpetuating inequities? 2. What role did we play in rendering the system in its current state? and; 3. In the context of our respective work, where can we interrupt these inequities?

In addition to targeted initiatives aimed at addressing specific inequities in our system, such as access to quality early childhood education (3K and Pre-K for All), rigorous coursework (AP for All, Algebra for All, Computer Science for All), College and Career readiness cultures (College Access for All and support of our STEM through CTE programs), and many more, NYC Public Schools are working to operationalize racial equity in all aspects of its institution. 

We encourage all DOE staff to explore these resources with an open mind, being eager to listen and learn from multiple perspectives in order to effect change, particularly within our educational institutions.

Now is the time for us to exercise our compassion for our students and colleagues and commit to focusing on the root causes of our current social climate so that we can all live in a more fair, just and equitable world where all voices are welcomed.

  • We invite you to share your suggestions, ideas, lessons or activities with us.
  • We also want to hear what resources are most effective for you and why, and how you are using the resources in your authentic practice.

Where To Start?

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad: Just As Flowers Are Beautiful, Children Are Genius.

Our students, caregivers and communities are filled with a wealth of knowledge and brilliance. As Dr. Muhammad reminds us, “ like flowers, children are destined for beauty and growth. They are the flowers. When a flower does not grow, we don't uproot it. Instead, we change the amount of sunlight, and water, we change the type of soil, we nourish it”. At its essence, the purpose of the NYC Public Schools  is to serve, nurture and cultivate the genius of all children. As aligned to one of our core values is keeping our “Children First.” Children First states:

“Children's social, emotional, and academic success drives every decision, action, policy, and resource allocation to provide each child with the highest-quality education. Putting children first respects each child's culture, purpose, talent, and ambition, thereby optimizing their potential to become agents of change.”

To know where to begin on our journey toward racial equity, we must first recognize that our students are genius. Consider how we can engage and provide a safe space for our youth to assess their needs. Consider what we need to do and with whom and to act on what we’ve learned. Important guidelines for ensuring long-term equity work are provided below:

Check-in on yourself and others

  • Consider the mental, emotional, and physical health of our students, colleagues, families, and ourselves.
  • People process trauma in various ways and are experiencing many emotions in real time. Do not take it personally. Listen and ask what you and others need in this moment and throughout this time.
  • Prioritize self-care. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Make a Commitment to Educate Yourself and Work to be Anti-racist

  • Educate yourself not only on the current moment, but the historical and structural context of why we are in our current state. Resources are everywhere!
  • Reflect on your own identities, biases, privileges, positionality, and how they form a lens in which you make sense of the world and how you see and make decisions on behalf/with our students and families.
  • Build your capacity to recognize, respond to, and address biases and inequities in the short and long-term.
  • Do not rely on communities of color to explain what is going on, teach you, or tell you what to do. 
  • Ask yourself: What am I willing to do and give up for justice?
“Having a desire for change is different than having a commitment to change…” - Andra Day.

Engage Our Students, Colleagues, and Communities

  • Assess your own readiness - willingness, comfort, and ability - as well as your community’s readiness to engage in dialogue and action. Where are you and your community in your collective equity learning journey?
  • Discussing the historical context of racial inequities and the current climate of death, violence, and systemic oppression can cause trauma and harm without intentional planning and care. Consider what might be ground rules or community agreements for engaging in these conversations. 
  • Discomfort is inherent in conversations about inequity and race. What does it look like to be in a productive space of discomfort but not panic?
  • Be patient. This should not be a “one-and-done” conversation but rather ongoing, deep-level work that takes place over time (often many years). If the solution to systemic racism and inequities were easy, we would have solved these issues a long time ago. This is multi-generational work.

An Additional Note on This Guidance

Just as we suggest conversations with your communities should not be a “one-and-done,” this guidance is meant to serve as a foundation for ongoing dialogue and action steps for the future. This guidance cannot (and does not) provide resources on all areas of identities and oppression that our students, communities, and ourselves face on an everyday basis. It also does not provide a “road map” for how to do this very complicated and adaptive work. There is no road map or one way to go about this work. While there are effective practices (many of which are referenced throughout these pages), it is incumbent on individuals and organizations to assess what might work best given the context and the needs of the students, staff, families, and communities. 

It is also critically important to do intentional planning and learning as you engage with students. The “urgency” to speak with your student community without the “competency” to do so can be incredibly harmful to students. Consider providing students an “opt-out” option. Even with intentional planning and amazing facilitation, these conversations can be re-traumatizing to our students, particularly our Black youth. 

We look forward to continuing to strengthen this guidance as we collectively work towards a more just NYC Public Schools and society.

Next Steps

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