Issues of equity continue to plague the field of education. How can leaders tell if those problems exist in their school or district? It's fairly simple to identify, says Robert Smith, former superintendent of schools in Arlington, Virginia, and coauthor of the Harvard Education Press title, Striving for Equity: District Leadership for Narrowing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps.
"You don't have equity in conditions in which all students are receiving the same amount of support," Smith explains. "You are getting equity if you have a situation in which every student is getting the amount of support to be successful."
So, how can a district leader ensure that equity is present in its schools — despite a district's diverse populations and multiple, competing agendas — and begin to close the gaps? In Striving for Equity, Smith and his coauthor S. David Brazer interviewed 13 superintendents who have dedicated themselves to erasing issues of equity in their districts, and have found some success. Although their approaches differ, what they all have in common, says Smith, is that they all had to confront issues of race directly.
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Smith speaks about Striving for Equity, and examines the strategies leaders can employ to progress toward narrowing opportunity and achievement gaps in traditional school districts.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.