Interrogating Systemic Inequities

The system is designed to get the results that it’s getting

In the world of management studies, the old adage stands true “Every system is designed to get the results that it gets”. When applied to education, we see the same to be true--the design and implementation of our processes, practices, policies, and allocation of resources have led to the predictable and historical outcomes for our students. Though we have made strides in narrowing the gaps between racial groups throughout our schools with our focus on Equity and Excellence, the existence and persistence of those historical disparities speak to our work needed as a system. 

While addressing those disparities can feel daunting, that old adage offers a glimmer of hope for advancing racial inequity: since systems are designed, they can also be redesigned or even dismantled. As we build our racial and equity literacy, embed cultural responsiveness and anti-racism within our instructional practice and leadership, and center anti-racism in our school environments, we must also adopt an anti-racist lens while transforming our organizational policies, practices, and processes. 

Overall Essential Questions

  • How does systems thinking apply to our work as an organization?
  • How can we reimagine our way of operating as an organization to advance racial equity?

Interrogating Systemic Inequities: How does systems thinking apply to our work as an organization? 

What is systems thinking? In this video, the Sustainability Science Education answers “what is a system” and explains how systems work. When exploring systemic change, one must understand the dynamics and interactions between each part within a system.

Let’s get to the root causes of racial injustice Professor Megan Ming Francis traces the root causes of our current racial climate to their core causes, debunking common misconceptions of “bad apples” and calling out "fix-all" cures to a complex social problem.

The Disturbing History of the Suburbs In this video, comedian Adam Conover and journalist Nikole Hannah Jones walk through the impact of historical racist housing policies (racial covenants, redlining, urban sprawl) on education. These policies directly affect our access to funding for schools, which highlights the challenges faced by providing equitable support for schools across NYC.

Interrogating Systemic Inequities: How can we reimagine our way of operating as an organization to advance racial equity? 

Advancing Racial Equity and Transforming Government The Government Alliance for Race and Equity (GARE) developed a six-step strategy for embedding racial equity within the work of local and state government agencies. 

Confronting Racial Bias at Work This report by Race Forward is broken up into four parts and provides a history of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and recommendations for a more racially equitable workplace.

Racial Equity Tools Racial Equity Tools contains a library of over 2500 case studies, frameworks, and resources to support organizations focused on achieving racial equity. Most notably, the library includes platforms across a range of issues such as youth development, education, economic development, and community peace.

Developing an Equity Rationale In this tool, the Management Center walks users through the process of articulating the answer to “why is equity and inclusion critical to achieving our mission?”. This tool serves both as an anchor for your team and a guiding resource for making decisions. 

Portland Public Schools Racial Equity and Social Justice Lens This page describes the system-wide racial equity and social justice lens that Portland Public Schools uses around policy and decision-making. When operating, teams are asked to review the four key questions whenever making a decision.

Grading for Equity This article makes the case for how grading and grading policies can be integral to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

City of Marin’s Diversity Recruitment Toolkit This site offers the city of Marin’s diversity recruitment recommendation in a step by step guide. Please examine these resources to see how they can translate to your workplace at the DOE.

Budgeting Tools for Racial Equity Alliance for Innovation has compiled a list of city agencies with racial equity budgeting tools. Reviewing the resources can assist developing and refining your budgeting practices. 

Considerations for Conducting Evaluation Using a Culturally Responsive and Racial Equity This document is a practical guide to conducting evaluation using a culturally responsive and racial equity lens. Evaluators who use the guide can gain richer insights that can ultimately lead to more inclusive and equitable outcomes

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