Ensuring Equity for All New Jersey Students

Posted by Dr. Richard Bozza, NJASA Executive Director on 11/19/2019

Today, the ultimate challenge for us as district leaders is to assure that each and every one of our students, regardless of background, is exposed to relevant and engaging learning experiences and the support that they will need in order to be successful in school and thrive in our world. That means that every student has access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income, as defined by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2017.

 

At NJASA, we’re working for fair and equitable opportunities for all students, educators, and communities through our initiative, NJASA 4 Equity. Below is a glimpse of all we’ve been doing, and why you should join us on November 21st for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic at The Palace at Somerset Park.

 

We will be initiating a process of reviewing the survey responses from school leaders who provided input regarding strategies and resources needed for building and sustaining an equitable learning environment. Our goal is to create an Equity Toolkit of best practices. We know that this type of Toolkit is not a magic bullet as issues of societal discrimination and inequities have a long history in educational systems. However, with the collaboration of superintendents, district administrators, and our county affiliate presidents, this Toolkit will provide support, guidelines, frameworks and resources to New Jersey school districts as they endeavor to ensure both access and opportunity for educational equity.

 

We believe in equitable access to funding for all school districts.

We’re optimistic that we’re moving toward equal funding for all New Jersey students, but challenges remain as district court filings dispute the redistribution for districts losing state support.

 

We believe in equitable access to professional development for all school leaders, and in equitable access to career opportunities and fair compensation for all association members.

We’re continuing to support new superintendents through mentor relationships, specially designed meeting sessions, and network opportunities. We’re ensuring gender, racial and economic equity among those serving as central office leaders. We’re creating an ongoing repository of best practice professional development opportunities in areas of educational leadership. We’re also increasing awareness of the importance of self-care and wellness for novice and veteran superintendents and members of NJASA.

 

New Jersey’s schools are #1. Equity will help us to remain at the forefront.

Education Week recently ranked New Jersey’s schools first in the nation. What will keep us on top is equity for New Jersey’s 1.4 million students. Innovation, practice, policy and performance are so important, and our schools are rising to the challenge.

 

In Hamilton Township, Mercer County, NJASA President Dr. Scott Rocco oversees 17 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 3 high schools. Equity is a goal in the budgeting process. As a result, not every school has the same budget. Rather, building budgets are developed to support the students’ needs for success. There are many examples of equity budgeting but one is paying for AP testing for students, regardless of their ability to pay. 

 

In the Cranbury School District, NJASA Small Schools/Shared Services Committee Chair Dr. Susan Genco stresses the importance of access and opportunity. She says it is our responsibility as educators to create and provide opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations.

 

NJASA is working with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania to provide educators with information and strategies that will help our students to achieve. We also are collaborating with the New Jersey Consortia for Excellence Through Equity Northeast, Northwest, Central, and South. These networks of urban, suburban and rural school districts are all driven by a mission to positively transform the lives of each and every one of their students by preparing them for success in post-secondary education and in life – especially those diverse children who have traditionally struggled academically in our systems, or who might likely be the first in their family to attend and graduate from college.

 

As district leaders, you are key to promoting and supporting meaningful change. Again, please join us for our Second Annual Equity Conference in cooperation with NJASA Crown Jewel Sponsor Scholastic on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at The Palace at Somerset Park.

 

We’ll hear from esteemed, groundbreaking thought leaders on the forefront of equity who are covering an insightful agenda.

 

Our keynote speaker, Fay E. Brown, Ph.D., will talk about “Reimagining Equity: The Case for a Whole-Child Approach for Effective Teaching and Learning.” Dr. Brown is a research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. She has co-authored book chapters in such books as: Child by Child; Six Pathways to Healthy Development and Academic Success; and Dynamic Instructional Leadership to Support Student Learning and Development.

 

Scholastic’s SVP of Education, Karen Burke, Ed.D., will serve as moderator. Burke has been an educator for more than 30 years, and currently helps district leadership understand and use data to create district-specific comprehensive literacy plans that weave pedagogy, programs, and professional learning together to elevate student learning.

 

We also will learn from New Jersey’s school districts about creating and sustaining the structures, curricula and programs that eliminate gaps in achievement. We’ll learn to bypass race, ethnicity, and gender. We’ll remove barriers from language, (dis)ability or family economic background. We are partners who can help gather the resources, thought and energy needed to create and sustain meaningful educational change to the benefit of all of the diverse learners you serve. Together, we will ensure all students succeed.

 

Whether you are just beginning to explore and create or you are maintaining developmentally appropriate conditions, I hope you’ll join us. Register today

 

Look to NJASA for the Latest New Jersey Public Education News

As the organization that supports school leaders, NJASA keeps its finger on the pulse on public education in New Jersey. We have a long and proud tradition of advocating for children and preparing leaders to steer schools and districts in the direction of positive futures. The children of New Jersey represent the future of our great state, and we have the responsibility to effectively educate all students through our public education system.