Liberation in Education: Why Don’t We Just Tear the Whole Fence Down?
As I sat in an Alexandria, Virginia conference room along with other powerful, thought-provoking, expert parent-leaders, strategizing and organizing upcoming movements in the world of parent advocacy, the topic came up about the equality/equity picture. Yes, you know the one that has been used and circulated more times than any of us could probably name. The ballgame, the fence, and three individuals being affected by their positions as it related to the fence. Then UPLAN parent leader, mother, wife, and child-expert, Bianca Scott, said one of the most revolutionary and groundbreaking ideas I have heard in a while, “Why don’t we just tear the whole fence down”?
Eureka! The breath of fresh air that a simple question gave to a room was exhilarating. In fact, the thoughts birthed in me from that challenge are of a new and progressive way to address matters that have been stewing in the education swamp for quite a while and with no fresh or innovative ways to rectify the issues
First, let’s start with the repeated use of ‘equality’ and ‘equity’ in pictures, sentence, articles, and blog posts. I am also a perpetrator of this act as I used the picture and dialogue in a previous blog on the topic. But, this was before my liberation, something most keepers of the gate don’t want. Why? Because it would be an end to their reign, dominance, and in many cases their financial flow. What the use of both of these words simultaneously does is aid in the confusion of the very groups of people (families) that it is intended to help. Many of us have pondered about this topic. Written on this topic. Listened to panels and explanations on the topic, which frankly means to me that its use is not sufficient and vastly outdated. If you have to go through the trouble of explaining this topic to education professionals, then imagine the exclusion that it causes to students, parents, and families.
I actually found another picture and story that added the use of the word liberation to the same “equality/equity” picture and story. That addition speaks of reimagining the idea and in fact tearing down the fence, subsequently freeing everyone one who was blocked, while also opening up the dialogue to ideas by the very people affected by the topic of fairness. Literal liberation and a voice.
Still, education entities promote the equality vs. equity model. This clearly states to me that the broad education village is satisfied with repeatedly supporting an idea of providing a service that would keep students, parents, and families dependent on them rather than empowering families or celebrating the power families already possess.
The convening in Alexandria, Virginia of strong and capable parent leaders was supported by NAFSCE as a way to not only engage but to empower and partner with powerful parents. If the education system in America is going to be better, then the leadership has to understand that any decisions, plans or goals will never be met as long as family engagement doesn’t seek to empower families and as long as families are seen as tokens in these plans. Without a significant admission that forward progress will only be accomplished by inviting and welcoming the very people who are being served, the education system in America is nothing more than a dog chasing its own tail. You are going in circles and will never go anywhere.
I believe the failure to acknowledge that the conversation about equality and equity is outdated and needs to be totally overhauled is a blatant attempt by the powers that be to keep families dependent. They know exactly what they are doing. It amazes me that in 2018 there aren’t any creative or innovative ideas coming from education leaders and that they fail to hear the voices of a large body of child-experts, the parents. 2019 offers a renewed chance to move forward in a new light but the switch has to be turned on first. If the switch is never turned, nothing will be accomplished. But, we as parents have our flashlights and we will keep presenting our demands!