“Education for minority students in the U.S. is in crisis. (M)inority students have less positive educational outcomes across the board (and) are more likely to be subjected to abusive, degrading disciplinary tactics ranging from over-policing to corporal punishment. They are less likely to be in well-funded, well-resourced schools offering advanced classes. Facing these obstacles, minority students are more likely to drop out of school before obtaining a high school diploma.”

Report of the American Civil Liberties Union, 2008 

The conditions reported by the ACLU eight years ago remain all too common in schools today. Even in districts with diverse populations, entrenched practices often marginalize students of color in everything from ability grouping to special education. Adjusting these practices can have a large impact on student equity – if educational leaders have the tools to lead courageously for equity and access for all.

Equity Audits are increasingly utilized to help school and district leaders systematically diagnose the many different practices that cause students to be sorted along racial and ethnic lines. I bring my 14 years of experience conducting district-wide investigations of civil rights allegations to assist leaders to break down and begin to change old, institutionalized exclusionary practices. The results can offer a powerful roadmap to begin to embrace, rather than exclude, students from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Equity audits can be targeted to an individual school, program or entire district. They can be targeted to specific areas or provide a more comprehensive analysis. Topics of review include:

  • Student Assignment: Strategies for School Integration
  • Tracking: Access to High Track Programs
  • Discipline and Stopping the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”
  • Over-representation of Students of Color in Special Education
  • Resource Comparability

The racial difficulties of recent years underscore the critical need for a new approach to American education – one that brings together children of all backgrounds, with a deep commitment to providing equity in opportunity and resources.