Becoming a Threat to Educational Inequity: The Equity Literacy Framework

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 9:15 – 10:30 am
Room: Crystal


Many diversity frameworks focus on vague notions of culture (like cultural competence) or detour around inequity. The equity literacy framework helps us maximize integrity of equity initiatives by avoiding detours. Based on the idea that there is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity, it cultivates in educators the ability to be threats to inequity. In this workshop I introduce equity literacy and how it helps us focus on rooting injustices out of schools.


pgorskiPresenter 1

Paul Gorski
Equity Literacy Institute

Biography: Paul Gorski has spent the past 20 years working with educators and schools to prioritize equity in every dimension of education. He is the founder of EdChange and the Equity Literacy Institute and author, editor, or co-editor of 10 books including Reaching and Teaching Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap and Case Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education (with Seema Pothini). Gorski is the co-architect (with Katy Swalwell) of the equity literacy framework, a school change and professional development approach designed to cultivate educators who are a threat to the existence of inequity in their spheres of influence. His website for educators, the Multicultural Pavilion, attracts close to 1 million visitors per year. Gorski lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his cat Buster.

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Many popular frameworks for attending to diversity in schools are built around vague notions of culture (such as cultural competence) or around concepts that detour around equity. The equity literacy framework was constructed to help educators and school systems maximize the integrity of equity initiatives by avoiding these sorts of detours, like all of the rehashings of the bootstrap mentality that have made their way into educational “equity” conversations: grit and growth mindset, for example.

The equity literacy framework is based on several principles crafted to keep educators focused on real equity work. For example, it is based on the principle that there is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity. It is also based on the principle that equity initiatives should never focus on fixing marginalized people. Rather, they should focus on fixing the conditions that marginalize people. By keeping these ideological principles front and center, equity literacy is designed to cultivate educators who have the knowledge and skills to be a threat to inequity in their spheres of influence.

In this workshop I introduce the principles of equity literacy, concepts that can help deepen educators’ equity literacy, and five guiding questions to help us assess the transformative nature (or lack thereof) of our equity initiatives. I use examples related to race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability, and other equity concerns.

In response to the questions posed in the call for proposals:

1. I have spent the past 20 years working with educators all over the US on these issues as well as working directly with school systems intent on deepening their equity work. I have presented previous versions of this work at the Summit (under its previous name) in the past.
2. The equity literacy framework was constructed out of several decades of research on best practices related to equity and equity-based leadership in schools. In some way it is an ideological framework, but it is also very practical—for example, we will talk about strategies for helping educators cultivate the ability to recognize subtle inequity or spot policies that humiliate students unintentionally.
3. Participants will engage in several brief activities applying equity literacy skills to their own educational contexts. For example, they will engage in small group discussion about examples of deficit views in their organizations’ policies.
4. Participants will receive several handouts and short magazine-length articles about equity literacy.
5. The whole workshop is built around presenting framing ideas then strategies related to those ideas. Again, they will address students of color, students with (dis)abilities, and a variety of other groups.

Teacher Identity and Attitudes: Strategies for Disrupting Inequity in Education

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 1:45 – 3:00 pm
Room: Crystal


This session will present research examining the ways White teachers perceive and respond to student behavior based on race. Findings from a study involving 125 White teachers from school districts in New England that reported disproportionate discipline rates will be presented. Participants in this session will self-reflect on their own beliefs and biases, use multiple lenses to review information shared by others, and collaborate to offer take-away strategies to disrupt inequity in education.


ctapleyPresenter 1

Colleen Tapley, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator for Undergraduate and Graduate Special Education
Southern New Hampshire University

Biography: Colleen Tapley received her doctorate in Leadership and Learning from Rivier University in May of 2016. She has over 16 years experience in the field of education with experience in special education, elementary education, middle school, and administration. Tapley has a strong background in curriculum development and a focus on preparing teachers to implement STEM and LEGO Robotics in grades K-6. Her doctoral dissertation examined the ways White teachers perceive and respond to student behavior based on racial identity status and racial attitudes. Tapley also has experience developing and implementing trainings to improve educators’ cultural competency. She recently presented a session called “Who Am I? Exploring Learner Identity and Biases to Disrupt Inequity in Education” at the 2017 Learner Research Network international conference at the University of Hawaii. Tapley became a full time faculty member in the School of Education at SNHU in Fall of 2016.

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Black students are disciplined at a greater rate than students from any other ethnic group or race beginning in preschool. According to Fenning and Rose (2007), disparities in discipline rates have been a problem for over 30 years. Research indicates that racial issues may underlie disproportionate discipline rates (Saft & Pianta, 2001; Skiba et al., 2000; Chen, 2013). This session will present research from a doctoral dissertation examining the ways White teachers perceive and respond to student behavior based on race. Participants in the study were 125 White teachers from school districts in New England that reported disproportionate discipline rates. One interesting finding from this study was that there was a statistically significant difference in White teachers’ personal racial attitude scores based on the race of the student in the vignette that was presented to participants. Teachers who received the Black student vignette had more negative personal racial attitudes than teachers who received the White student vignette. This means that teachers’ personal racial attitudes may have been activated by reading the Black student vignette.
If White teachers’ personal racial attitudes were activated by seeing the image of the Black student and reading the accompanying vignette, it is possible that White teachers’ personal racial attitudes are also activated when they have a Black student in their classroom. This finding has implications for the field of education and the problem of disproportionate discipline rates. Another finding from this research study was that effective cultural competency training may help improve teacher attitudes. The implications findings from this study have for practice, as well as current research in the field, will be discussed. Using activities based upon the Kagan Model for Cooperative Learning, participants will self-reflect on their own beliefs and biases, use multiple lenses to review information shared by others, and collaborate in small and large groups to offer take-away strategies to disrupt inequity in education.
As a faculty member in a teacher education program, I believe it is important for individuals in the field of education to create more inclusive learning environments that meet the diverse needs of all student learners. This process requires ongoing self-reflection and acknowledgement of one’s own biases and stereotypical patterns to disrupt the perpetuation of inequities in education. Participants in this workshop will be provided with handouts that they can take back to utilize in their current positions, and strategies to help them work to disrupt inequity in the settings they are in.

NSF’s Advanced Technological Education Program: Funding Innovative Equity Initiatives at Community Colleges

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Building a diverse workforce
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 10:45 – 12:00 pm
Room: Crystal


The National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program provides grants to develop America’s technician workforce for advanced technologies through two-year workforce education programs at community and technical colleges. This session will present an overview of the NSF ATE program, outline the process for developing a grant proposal, tips for developing a competitive proposal, and highlight current grants that are focused on underrepresented populations.


mbargerPresenter 1

Marilyn Barger, Ph.D.
Executive Director

Biography: Dr. Marilyn Barger is the Principal Investigator and Executive Director of FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. FLATE serves manufacturing education in Florida is involved in student recruitment for technical career pathways; has produced award-winning curriculum and secondary and post-secondary reform initiatives for Career Education programs; and offers professional development for STEM and CTE educators in advanced technologies. She has a special interest in recruiting girls into STEM careers. Dr. Barger has a Ph.D. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida, which designed membrane separation systems for water purification. She has a licensed patent and is a Florida registered professional engineer. Dr. Barger has over 20 years’ experience in developing and delivering K20 engineering and technical curriculum.

dlangePresenter 2

Donna Lange
DeafTEC Director and PI

Biography: Donna Lange has been teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students in Associate-level programs for close to 30 years at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), one of the nine colleges of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. She is an associate professor and former chair of the Applied Computer Technology Department and has taught a variety of computer-related courses in the areas of both hardware and web development. Lange is currently the PI and Center Director of the NSF ATE National Center of Excellence, DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students ( that was established at RIT/NTID in 2011. She holds a BS in Computer Science from SUNY Brockport and an MS degree in Software Development and Management from RIT.


The NSF’s Advanced Technological Education Program: Funding Innovation at Community Colleges presentation will allow conference attendees the opportunity to become familiar with the NSF ATE program to fund innovative equity initiatives in STEM at their colleges.

The presentation will cover:
• A general overview of the NSF ATE program
• The process for developing a grant proposal
• Tips for developing a competitive proposal
• Support for writing ATE grant proposals including information on the ATE
Mentor Connect project that offers new grant writers assistance in
preparing ATE grant proposals
• Select ATE projects/Centers that focus on equity and underrepresented
populations such as DeafTEC, EESTEM, FLATE

Shifting a Culture: Overrepresentation of African American Males in “Negative” Educational Experiences

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 9:45 – 11:00 am
Room: Crystal


Research shows that negative school experiences that include suspensions, enrollment in lower level courses, poor peer and adult interactions and low academic attainment exacerbates poor adult experiences and promotes linkage from the School to Prison Pipeline. During this session, participants will understand how placement on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum can alleviate or lessen these negative experiences.


sbrinkley-parkerPresenter 1

Sharone Brinkley-Parker, Ed.D.
Director, School Climate
Baltimore County Public Schools

Biography: Dr. Sharone Brinkley-Parker has been an educator and administrator for over 18 years for two public school systems- Baltimore City and Baltimore County. She was educated in the Baltimore City Public Schools and received post graduate degrees from Morgan State and Towson State Universities. She currently serves as the Director of School Climate for Baltimore County Public Schools. Prior to this appointment, she served as director, principal, district administrator, assistant principal and teacher for Baltimore City Public Schools. In addition to her professional work, she has worked for the past 4 years facilitating and presenting work in the Cultural Proficiency arena in Baltimore and Howard Counties and the Community College of Baltimore County. She serves as a board member for Greater Baltimore Health Improvement Initiative (GBHII), a non-profit committed to educating/advocating for families and communities experiencing health disparities experienced in impoverished communities.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)


Educating students of color often present challenges due to the cultural disconnect present in some educational environments based on the adults leading the charge. As cultural competence is built, the focus of equitable practices heighten which cause for a look at how expectations are communicated. The goal of all school environments is to nurture and foster the learning for all subgroups of students by developing cultural awareness that transcends the learning expectations for all students. The proposed presentation will explore the experiences of African American males in education as it relates to academics and discipline. I have first-hand experiences with this topic as a former administrator in both urban and suburban school districts in which the overrepresentation of AA males in suspension experiences and special education placement were polar opposite to their placement in Gifted and Talented as well as Advanced Placement courses. As an administrator, I was able to work with my leadership team in order to engage stakeholders in (1) understanding how cultural connections build relationships and (2) using academic and behavioral strategies to provide individualized instructional for all students. I also understand what it means to be part of a leadership team where the decision makers use their whiteness as a means to not influence teacher practices that will engage African American males and other students of color.

Additionally, my first-hand knowledge was obtained when I completed my doctoral degree with a dissertation topic on the experience of African American males with suspension and the impact of these experiences based on the placement of teachers on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum. While examining research and conducting interviews, I was able to get firsthand accounts of student experiences and how they viewed the situation as well as the teacher’s perception of the students’ actions and how their response impacted the students’ experiences. I used these personal accounts to make correlations to placement of the Cultural Proficiency Continuum and ultimately provided implications for educators, leaders and district staff for addressing these experiences as a means to eliminate the disparities seen in discipline experiences for this subgroup that also impacted the academic experiences.

Based on research and practices seen across the country, this aids in student drop out, low educational attainment and promotion of the school-to-prison pipeline. During the session, participants will look at current practices and data that provide an explanation for the educational experiences of this subgroup. This examination will promote the need to understand the dynamics necessary to foster courageous conversations. Such conversations can be used to shift the mindset of adults and promote a line of questioning that will help examine if adult actions are aiding in the negative experiences for African American males. Through the conversation pieces and examination of specific personal accounts within each participants school, the ultimate goal is to use the Cultural Proficiency Continuum to assess placement as a means to understand the impact that placement may have on how educators make decisions or handle situations with particular subgroups to engage in discourse around culturally responsive teaching practices and the shift in mindset to positively impact the educational experiences of African American males through conversation and actions.

Participants will engage in scenarios that align to the six practices on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum. Based on the engagement, they will develop ways that unhealthy practices show up in their present environment juxtapose healthy ones and how these shifts can create more positive experiences for African American males in particular while being beneficial for all student populations. This session will inform strategies for school districts and leaders around teacher preparation programs, onboarding practices for novice teachers, mentorship, trainings and professional development and programmatic shifts (alternatives to suspension, cultural responsive teaching, etc) and policy implications (zero tolerance, discipline mandates, academic placement criteria, etc). The handouts will provide types of questioning to promote inclusive environments under the courageous conversation tenants (fierce conversations). Participants will also have statements aligned to the Cultural Proficiency Continuum which will allow them to be reflective about placement for themselves and those within their environment as a means to determining a starting point to engage staff upon returning to their respective work environments.

The research guiding this topic will include participant materials on Cultural Proficiency for leadership (Lindsay, Nuri Robins & Terrell), as a connection to fostering courageous conversation and the impact of educators and their practices for students in the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Using these frames, participants will walk away with strategies to begin focusing making school inclusive for all populations, specifically African American males so there can be a shift in negative experiences.

Correctional Education in California’s Prisons: A Collaboration Between California’s Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 8:15 – 9:30 am
Room: Crystal


Correctional Education in California’s Prisons: A Collaboration between California’s Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation will explore academic and career technical education opportunities for adult learners incarcerated in California’s prisons. Attendees will learn how this unique collaboration is contributing to safer institutions and safer communities, and providing pathways to success for California inmates upon reentry.


sSwainPresenter 1

Shannon Swain
Superintendent, Office of Correctional Education
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Biography: Ms. Swain is the Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which provides educational programs to adult inmates in California’s 35 prisons. She had served as Deputy Superintendent from June, 2014 through October, 2017. Swain was a subject matter expert of correctional education at Synergy Correctional Technology Services from 2012 to 2014, where she worked with the Chilean Ministry of Justice, traveling to Chile to provide instruction in adult learning methodology to Chilean prison wardens. She served in several positions at the CDCR Parolee Educational Programs, operated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, from 1989 to 2012, including principal, program manager, project coordinator and teacher.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)(Facebook)

czachryPresenter 2

Carolyn Zachry, Ed.D.
Education Administrator/State Director, Adult Education
California Department of Education

Biography: Dr. Zachry is currently the State Director for the Adult Education Office in the Career and College Transition Division (CCTD) at the California Department of Education (CDE). Her office is responsible for administration and management of the federal WIOA Title II grant as well as co-administration of the Adult Education Block Grant. Prior to her time in the Adult Education Office, Dr. Zachry was the administrator for the office with the federal Perkins and state CTE Grants. She was on the team responsible for the revisions to and professional development for the California CTE standards. She is the CDE representative to the Joint Special Populations Advisory Council, the California County Superintendents Education Services Association CTE council, and the president of the executive committee for the National Association for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE).

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Facebook)


The California Department of Education’s (CDE) Adult Education programs serve a diverse student population in the nation’s third largest state, including adult immigrants, adults with disabilities, disadvantaged adults, single parents, displaced homemakers and incarcerated adults. One setting that includes adult learners from each of these categories may seem an unlikely place to find bustling, productive classrooms with actively engaged students: Prison. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Correctional Education (OCE) provides academic and career technical education classes to approximately 50,000 students every day, in 35 accredited adult schools. Through an innovative partnership, these two state agencies- CDE and CDCR, are collaborating to offer pathways to success for adults incarcerated in California’s prisons, addressing a variety of reentry needs for California’s returning citizens.
Correctional Education in California’s Prisons: A Collaboration between California’s Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation will explore the academic and career technical education opportunities for adult learners incarcerated in California’s prisons. In addition to exploring educational programs being offered behind prison walls, attendees will learn how multiple state agencies are collaborating to contribute to pathways to success, addressing a variety of reentry needs for California inmates, over 96% of whom will ultimately be releasing back to their communities. Correctional education is vital to public safety, as this presentation will explain.
The presentation will first assess the audience to identify knowledge of current barriers to successful community reintegration for justice-involved returning citizens. As the Director of Adult Education for the State of California, Dr. Carolyn Zachry is uniquely qualified to share with the audience the various ways that CDE is supporting adult students in California. She will discuss the Adult Education Block Grant and the creation of regional consortia of adult schools and community colleges collaborating to meet student needs across the state of California. She will also share how CDE supports incarcerated adult students through federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) Title II funding as well as through federal Carl Perkins funding, supplementing CDCR programs to improve student learning. As Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education for CDCR, Shannon Swain will detail the various academic and career technical programs provided inside California’s 35 distinct adult schools, each located inside a different California prison. She will share details about the three tenets of the Student Success Initiative, including the development of professional learning communities, training on data-informed decision making, and the development of a new model for communicating with inmate students, Transformative Correctional Communication, which emphasizes a new approach for communicating with student inmates to avoid manipulation and increase student engagement.
The presenters will provide examples of how WIOA Title II funds are being leveraged to enhance professional development opportunities for CDCR teachers and administrators, through California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO), which provides workshops and learning institutes to adult education teachers across California. They will share how the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN) and the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) also support student learning and teacher development for Correctional Education teachers in California prisons, OTAN through its innovative web based instructional and student support resources for adult educators, and CASAS through its competency-based assessment and instructional resources. The presenters will include handouts for attendees that provide references and relevant web links. Their focus on the use of effective strategies for adult learners is grounded in adult learning and will therefore involve relevant examples rooted in practical application.
While academic and career technical education classes are available in prison classrooms, career pathways are not the only area of need for inmate students. Student social and emotional health are vital to their success, both during their incarceration and ultimately throughout their transition back to their communities. Effective correctional educators emphasize and model the development of healthy habits for a more holistic approach to health. In addition to academic and career technical education programs, OCE provides recreational and leisure activities through the provision of coaches who teach physical fitness courses, organize chess and Scrabble© and other board game tournaments, and provide access to positive leisure time pursuits.
Justice-involved students transitioning into their communities often face new technologies with which they may be unfamiliar. It is therefore important that correctional education provide access to and instruction in these emerging technologies. The presentation will include an overview of how computers and electronic devices are being used for academic assessment and instruction inside California prisons, and explore the development and implementation of eLearning and internet-protocol television initiatives that are providing access to new technology for students.
Finally, it is important to note that this proposed presentation aligns with each of the conference strands. Certainly the strand of “best practices for equitable learning environments” applies, given the high needs of the inmate students. Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM seems appropriate, given the exploration of the 20 different CTE courses available, as does Building a Diverse Workforce, given the emphasis on competency-based education and the development of pre-apprenticeship programs. A case could be made for Equitable Leadership Practices, given the focus on institutional change and leadership development underway in the prison system. Finally, Public Policy-Supporting equity and education also seems a likely fit, as the California Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation collaborate to bring high quality, engaging, and effective academic and career technical education programs to California’s prison inmates, improving possibilities for successful community transition while simultaneously promoting correctional institution and public safety.