The BELE Network

Aug 30, 2021

2 min read

Do’s and Don’ts for Engaging on Educational Equity

Simple tips for navigating the backlash against antiracist policies and practices

By The BELE Network

The COVID-19 pandemic both exposed and exacerbated inequities in our schools, and along with 2020’s racial reckoning, it has created an overwhelming demand for tools and resources to build equitable learning environments and a will to change an education system that doesn’t work for every child. However, with progress comes backlash, and this spotlight on schools has caused a reactionary attack on equity in education.

There is no doubt that this backlash can be disheartening and overwhelming. But our work still has immense support from families and communities across the country who believe in the power of education to give students what they need to feel cared for and achieve their dreams and contribute to their communities.

The BELE Network has put together some guidance in the form of simple do’s and don’ts for educators and advocates navigating the backlash to equitable education.

Find our recommendations below:

DO

  • Ask clarifying questions to get to the root of their concerns.
  • Leverage youth voices and stories when showing why equity is necessary.
  • Unapologetically share examples of equitable practices in action (humanize the statistical realities).
  • Appeal to shared values (e.g. the importance of students being able to see themselves and their cultures in the books they read, etc.) and look for common ground in education.
  • Be intentional about messengers — lean into trusted education voices (not political appointees).

DON’T

  • Be defensive.
  • Engage with the trolls.
  • Assume most people truly understand what CRT or equity is.
  • Get stuck in a debate on what CRT really is and how your work is or isn’t CRT.
  • Repeat the other side’s negative framing to address criticism.
  • Water down why equity is critical for students, adults and society.
  • Apologize for elevating, listening to and advocating for students.
  • Expect to win in one conversation — changing hearts and minds takes time.

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​​The Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network is a diverse collaborative of organizations that are working to advance equity in education. We share a bold vision of thriving youth, families, caregivers, and communities — and of education systems that foster academic, social, emotional, and cognitive growth and well-being for all. We envision a world where a child’s racial and cultural identity and unique learning path are strong contributors to their success in school and in life, and where zip code and family income do not determine the quality of a child’s education.