Community Learning Exchange


Educational Equity

This group examines the issue of educational equity in the schools, but also in a much broader way, as it looks at issues of economy, housing, health care, nutrition, etc.

Members: 21
Latest Activity: Aug 11, 2011

Discussion Forum

What are educational equity issues in your community?

Started by Dale Nienow Feb 22, 2010. 0 Replies

At the November learning exchange hosted by Minnesota and Wisconsin, we defined educational equity as “an educational and learning environment in which individuals can consider options and make…Continue

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Comment by steve stapleton on July 5, 2011 at 3:21pm
That is very exciting news Francisco!  Congratulations to you and the Rural School and Community Trust.  Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Francisco Guajardo on July 5, 2011 at 3:12pm

I've been working with a national group called the Rural School and Community Trust on a Formula Fairness Campaign, a movement focused on changing the way the Federal government disperses Title I money to public schools across the country.  The current formula deeply disadvantages small and rural schools, because  the formula is weighted--that is, the larger schools get more money per Title I child because they have more sheer numbers.  


We have thus received the support of Congressman Glenn Thompson, Republican from Pennsylvania, and Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, Democrat from south Texas, to co-sponsor a bill called the All Children are Equal Act.  A news conference in Washington DC on July 12 will unveil the proposed legislation.  

Comment by Dale Nienow on August 10, 2010 at 8:38am
Thanks Francisco. I like the bolder, broader approach to educational equity. We spent a lot of talk time about what schools need to do. As a society, we devote remarkably little time to what we need to do as a community to support schools. The community needs to be engaged and to step up to accountability for supporting kids in and beyond schools.

This approach fits perfectly with the community learning exchange because it requires us to work together across roles and institutions. One challenge to this work is to simultaneously engage a broader approach and to find doable places to work on. That is one of the nice aspects of our network -- we can connect a number of approaches moving in a similar direction and go deep with teams of people immersed in local communities.
Comment by Francisco Guajardo on August 9, 2010 at 8:48am
educational equity is such a complex issue everywhere, no exception in my neck of the woods. the issue is historic as well, particularly as it relates to the very tangible issue of school funding. the united states and texas supreme courts have weighed in on the issue, and the state legislature has been forced to respond to decisions rendered by the courts to craft policies that move the institution of the public school toward a more equitable place. the results are very mixed.

while the state has struggle to create more fair funding formulas for the schools, we are far from a place of equity. the persistent patterns of economic inequality, uneven investment in community development ventures that are publicly (and privately) supported, and a myriad of other chronic patterns have built an infrastructure that has large gaps across texas communities and schools. school finance formulas and even school reform movements attempt to address issues of equity, but they tend to be narrow-minded in scope, because they have both eyes focused on the school, and the school only. a more comprehensive approach, it seems to me, needs to look at the schools, the communities, the economy, broad policy issues, and other patterns that impact the livelihoods of children, families, and the places in which they live.

Another issue that has become quite insidious is the pay-off to the current school finance negotiations that have been decided in texas’ legislative backrooms. The notorious Robin Hood funding mechanism has benefitted property poor school districts across the state, but it’s come at a high price, first to those school districts but now to the entire country. The price is manifest in the current high stakes test-dependent school reform movement that is the bastard child and product of the tumultuous and highly charged political relationship between representatives of property rich and property poor school districts as they negotiated a school finance mechanism that responded to the dictates of the courts.

A highly probably dialogue ensued like this:

Wealthy school district: “okay, we’ll share our wealth, but we’re gonna hold you accountable.”

Poor school district: “fine, as long as we get our fair share of the public money, we’ll play by the rules. But what do you mean by hold you accountable.”

Wealthy school district: “if we’re sharing with you, you’ll need to show us you’re using the money constructively. We’ll create a test to measure whether you’re using it well.”

Poor schools district: “that sounds fair enough. Bring it on.”

And so the state test is born as the cornerstone of this generation’s brand of school reform, even becoming centerpiece of the federal law known as No Child Left Behind.

But my point is that school reform is about a different conversation. It’s about how children do in school, but it’s also about whether children are eating well, sleeping in safe homes, whether their parents are gainfully employed, whether the community is safe and vibrant. educational equity is complex and requires that we engage in a much broader conversation about community and economic development--keeping one eye on the schools, and the other on the broader context.

there's an interesting national organization called "A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" that looks at school reform through a lens similar as the one i've articulated above. it may be worth looking at their website for further insight (

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