Moving Toward Equity

Not all community engagement is equitable. To achieve equity, those in power, such as teachers or school administrators, must share power with all stakeholders in their school community. This tool is designed to help you identify and implement strategies that enable more effective and equitable practices.

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Providing Information Encouraging Involvement Sharing Power
Teachers and school administrators provide basic and expected information to students, families, and other community members at regular intervals.​ In addition to providing information, teachers and school administrators actively seek out feedback and input from students, families, and other community members.​ In addition to providing information and encouraging involvement, teachers and school administrators also use resources to engage equitably with all members of the school community when making decisions that affect the community.

Truly equitable community engagement isn’t just providing information, encouraging involvement, or sharing power; it requires those in power to do all three. What that looks like in practice will depend on the school, community, venue, topic, and more.

Community Engagement in Action

The chart below includes examples of what different types of community engagement look like in action.

Providing Information Encouraging Involvement Sharing Power
Parent Conferences Parents receive data and information about the academic progress of their children. Teachers share their reflections on each student’s progress, allowing for input, reflection, and goal-setting. Students lead conferences by sharing their work, reflecting on their progress, and setting goals. Families, teachers, and students function as a team.
Activities The school sends notices about events that families can attend, such as math nights, the school play, and more. Families are invited to chaperone field trips, volunteer in classrooms, or co-plan activities, such as a back-to-school barbecue. Families design and implement activities of their own choosing, such as inviting school staff to neighborhood block parties or living room conversations.
Budget Budget priorities are determined without input from the community and posted on the district website. The superintendent encourages community members to attend public school board meeting about the budget and/or to vote. The school board sets aside funds for participatory budgeting, a process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget.
Communication The school sends newsletters, email updates, robo calls, memos, or other communications about policy changes. In a presentation, the school shares policy changes and invites feedback in the form of surveys, focus groups, suggestion boxes, or a question and answer period. After the collection of data and the public exchange of ideas, decisions regarding a new school policy are made in an open forum with input from the school community.

The Great Schools Partnership thanks Everyday Democracy for their collaboration in the fieldwork and shared learning that shaped many of these ideas.

Creative Commons License Moving Toward Equity by the Great Schools Partnership is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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