Following up on the November planning session, the Project convened a meeting of its leadership and invited academics and educators to think through knowledge resources that would support our CCoP equity champions in engaging local stakeholders on the priority equity issues identified in Toronto.
The meeting was held on December 12, 2017 at the Faculty of Education at York University. In attendance were:
- Judith Bishop, former Board Chair, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
- Charmain Brown, Performance + teacher, York Region District School Board
- Peter Clutterbuck, SPNO, KNSWB Project Coordinator
- Joseph Flessa, Leadership and policy professor, OISE
- Christa Freiler, SPNO-KNSWB Research Consultant, KNSWB Project Planning Team
- Yvonne Kelly, Community Development, York Region District School Board and KNSWB Project Planning Team
- Gillian Parekh, Faculty of Education, York University
- Vidya Shah, Model Schools for Inner Cities, Toronto District School Board, secondment to Faculty of Education, York University
- Ritika Shrimali, SPNO Research & Communications Volunteer on KNSWB Planning Team
- Vicky Leone, Performance + teacher
- Sue Winton, Professor, Faculty of Education, York University and Project planning Team
Four topics were identified for development of knowledge resources in short monograph form, although there was also discussion of producing related infographic material on the topics that could be used to stimulate discussion with community stakeholders.
Knowledge Resource #1 – Framing Equity Issues through the Lens of Low Income
- Conveying our Project’s distinct focus on equitable and inclusive education from the perspective of low SES students and families by situating the income issue within the larger equity/inclusion debate and its relationship with the other sources of marginalization, discrimination, and exclusion.
- Broadening our focus beyond “poverty” to low socio-economic status (SES) including both poor and working class families to extend the reach and relevance of the conversation in our communities and to build a wider commitment to action on the knowledge that we bring forward.
- Linking to a comprehensive definition of student well-being and using both quantitative and qualitative research-based evidence to gain a grounded understanding of what well-being looks like for low SES students.
- Thinking about a collective as well as individual sense of student well-being in that issues of inequity and exclusion of low SES students should be a concern of all community stakeholders demanding shared responsibility for change and collective action.
- Promoting the idea of community stakeholders engaging local conversations on what would constitute a “Community Charter on Equity and Inclusion in Education through the Lens of Low Income”, which could include not only what eliminates inequities and promotes inclusion, but what actions that different groups could take to meet charter requirements.
Knowledge Resource #2 – Low-income Family Engagement in Education
- Use existing relevant research to gain knowledge of factors that impact the relationship between low SES students and parents and their schools and education.
- Looking beyond traditional ideas of “parent/family involvement” and questioning the power dynamic that places control of the learning process and environment in the school and educators.
- Starting with the assumption that every parent cares about their kid – that is the beginning of engagement – what are parents now doing that shows involvement with their children’s learning?
- Overcoming the idea of “fixing” schools or families by facilitating dialogue on the school and education as an exercise in community-building.
Knowledge Resource #3 – Raising the Consciousness and Understanding of Educators
- Supporting teachers in gaining an understanding of the inequities and exclusionary conditions facing low-income students and families (e.g. role of local social planning in providing research and community profiles).
- Addressing the challenge of openly discussing “classism” and “power and privilege” in creating inequity.
- Balancing the importance of voicing and hearing “lived experience” of low SES students and parents against its potential traumatizing limitations for some.
- Listening to challenges as expressed by teachers and recognizing that teachers can also have had marginalizing experiences grounded in their own personal histories of low SES, racism, sexism, etc.
- Identifying practical concrete supports for teachers in the classroom to overcome biases and practices that produce or reinforce inequitable treatment for low SES students and families.
Knowledge Resource #4 – Eliminating Resource Inequities and Disparities
- Mining existing reports and research on “financial and opportunity gaps” in the education system.
- Identifying resource inequities across the school system originating in policy and creating pressure for school fund raising, which reinforces inequities for low income communities and their schools.