Equity in Education – What Does it Look Like?

Equity in Education – What Does it Look Like?

Equity in Education – What Does it Look Like? 1707 2560 Ivy Marsnik

Today, people are gathering together to stand up and say enough is enough. As a community, we are recognizing that we need to make significant changes in order to achieve meaningful and measurable progress on equity; especially as it pertains to education and the persistent opportunity gap so prevalent in Minneapolis today. So where do we begin?

Jessica, a participant in the Way to Grow teen parenting program, puts it this way: “My Family Educators had two different meanings in my life. Angie was there at a time when I needed emotional support; she helped me work through things and get myself stable.” When Angie left Way to Grow, Jessica’s new Family Educator, Ashley, was able to step in and build upon that foundation. “Most of my work with Ashley has been finding myself a job, practicing interviews, getting myself back in school and learning how to support my [18 month-old] daughter,” Jessica says. “Ashley teaches me how even though La’rissa is so young, little things like building with blocks and asking her questions when we read really help her develop.”  By increasing access to early education and family support, we are demonstrating equity by giving children like La’rissa a fair start.

Though equity starts by ensuring every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life, we must also extend equity beyond children to their parents. We know that parents are not only their children’s first teachers, but their number one role models.  This is the reason our approach includes family support and connection to resources as part of our holistic home visiting program. We are educating parents through our health and nutrition, financial literacy, and new parent support groups and are showing them how they can share that knowledge with their communities through our “Train the Trainer” programs. In 2014, Way to Grow also launched its Parent Leadership Council – a round table for parents to share and strengthen their voices, advocating for themselves and their children.

When we get it right for the most vulnerable, society as a whole is strengthened and the benefits cascade to all of us. Jessica credits Way to Grow with helping her realize there was more out there for her and her daughter. “I realized I didn’t want to raise my daughter on collecting checks,” she says. Last week, Jessica started her first job and is now well on her way towards completing her degree in Child Development. Her potential was always there; through practicing equity, it has been unleashed.

You see, equity matters because we all succeed when we all succeed.

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