As we start the new year with renewed energy, excited for what is to come, we would like to draw attention to the importance of a single word: “equity”.

Equity means giving all families access to tools and resources in the ways they need it whereas equality refers to giving everyone the same resources. When families are able to engage in a format that is most accessible to them, families feel empowered to have a more active role in their child’s education.

When I was teaching, my school met the standards of “equality”. The district and administrative teams ensured that families were receiving the same tools and resources. However, many of these families could not take advantage of the tools and resources that were being offered to them because of the inaccessibility of it all. There was no equity. As a result, families felt more disconnected from their child’s education which made it harder for me as a teacher to build relationships with them and harder for families to understand how to best support their child.

Now, under the new ESSA Title 1 Family Engagement regulations, districts are required to overcome barriers such as language and adult literacy to ensure regular, two-way, meaningful communication between family members and staff at all levels (district/school/classroom) of the district. All families should be able to fully participate and contribute to their children’s school and education and no barrier should ever stand in the way of that.

How are you ensuring that you are serving your students and families equitably?

Is your district and/or school meeting the current ESSA regulations? Find out below!

  • Do you conduct regular two-way meaningful communication with all families?
  • Is there two-way dialogue between family members and school staff at ALL levels (i.e. the district, the school, and especially at the classroom level)?
  • Does two-way dialogue between family members and school staff happen in a format that is most accessible for all families?
  • Do all families receive communication in all languages to the extent possible?
  • Do you conduct outreach to all parents and family members, including those who have limited English proficiency, those with disabilities, and those with migratory children?

John Allen, SchoolCNXT Editorial Team and former teacher