On Monday night, teachers, administrators and other community members gathered at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte for a screening of EducationNC’s Equity in Education videos followed by a discussion with three of the film subjects: Toussaint Romain, Jason Terrell and James Ford.
Before the discussion began, audience members weighed in on their perspective of equity in schools through the Reach NC Voices tool. Here are the results:
Ford opened the discussion by breaking down the web of interconnected systems that show inequities.
“Everything in America is predicated on this notion of racial supremacy. It is woven into the very fabric of our system,” said Ford. “Even as we begin to make shifts in mindsets, those structures still exist, and they tend to spit out the same outcomes: white on top, black and brown on bottom.”
When Bell asked the panel to discuss what they felt was missing from the statewide conversation on equity, Romain offered insight into what equity truly means within the context of his work as a public defender.
“Change and privilege are not apple pie. It’s not that giving a slice to one means taking some from others. We are talking about the chance of expanding that pie and giving everyone the same share, because that’s what equity means,” said Romain. “All really means all, and equity really means equity.”
Following this initial discussion, audience members participated in the conversation. As former educators, Terrell and Ford offered advice to teachers in the audience who voiced concerns about how to navigate conversations on racial equity with their colleagues and how to manage classrooms with more than 40 students.
“Sometimes the system or environment feels so negative that it brings you down. Find your advocates in the school who are fighting for the same issues and really have the same values,” said Terrell.
“Be honest with them about what they are up against, but tell them that you believe in them and that you are going to do everything in your power to help them take on this word,” said Ford.
“How do you move a mountain? Pebble by pebble,” said Romain.
Through the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research, EducationNC is embarking on a three-year study of equity across North Carolina in partnership with Ford’s organization, Filling the Gap Educational Consultants.