Transcript of the episode “Dismantling bias in schools: A multiyear model”

[00:00:15] Jon M: I’m Jon Moscow.

[00:00:16] Amy H-L: And I’m Amy Halpern-Laff. Welcome to Ethical Schools. Our guest today is Dr. John Pascarella, Professor of Clinical Education at the University of Southern California, USC. Dr. Pascarella is Chief Academic Officer of K-12 Professional Learning at USC Race and Equity Center. Welcome, John!

[00:00:37] Jon M: Will you tell us about the USC Race and Equity Center and what it does?

[00:00:42] John P: Yes. At the Center, our mission is to eliminate, disrupt, dismantle racism in all its forms. And the work I do in K-12 is focused on how we partner with K-12 leaders, school districts, independent schools, anyone working in state or federal policy or research, looking to advance racial equity. We do our work primarily through the lens of interdisciplinary research, high quality professional learning experiences, producing useful tools and engaging in trustworthy consultations and strategic advising through those partnerships. And while race and ethnicity are at the center of our work, we also very much focus on the intersectionality with other identities and work to advance equity for everyone experiencing any form of marginalization.

[00:01:39] Amy H-L: What generally precipitates your involvement with a district or school? 

[00:01:43] John P: Well, what usually starts the conversation is that a school or districts is already having the conversation around disparities, injustices, or forms of racism that they’re noticing, whether individual or in policy or in classrooms and hallways or in the curriculum that they notice continues to center a wider Eurocentric narrative or experts, scholars and in any given subject matter or in the curricular representation of books and texts, and the ways in which we experienced schooling that tends not to center or be inclusive of the history of how communities of color experience our school and our curriculum. I think about, do folks in the school community view this school as an important place to gather and to commune with each other, or do they view the school as an institution that is not necessarily serving the community’s needs or the histories, culture, ethnicities, and linguistically diverse populations that work and live and thrive in the community or instead is it reproducing and continuing a curriculum that decenters them in some way? And so schools are thinking about this and by schools, we’re talking about parents, caregivers, school leaders and teachers who organize, whether in the form of a committee or a task force, or they’re coming to board meetings and they’re raising concerns about school disciplinary policies and practices that are resulting in the disproportionality of referrals of students of color for behavioral issues, the lack of, perhaps, training that teachers and school leaders have had in their own professional development or professional learning or their own teacher education programs or leadership programs or certification programs in order to better create better conditions for students and their families to experience the schools in their communities.

[00:03:49] Jon M: How do you evaluate the things that you’ve just been discussing? Which would indicate bias or inequities? What actually happens when people come to you and ask you to become involved in a school? 

[00:04:01] John P: Yeah. That’s a great question, Jon, because that’s usually the first question we’re asking the school leader or the task force is,” what data do you have presently that’s been looked at through a racial equity lens?” In other words, if there is disproportionality in school disciplinary referrals, how do you know what’s the data supporting that? How have you sifted through that data and begun to examine the sources of those referrals and the policies, the policy language that is supporting or aligning with the decisions that are being made by the educators?

And so, in some cases we have schools and DEI committees that have organized and have identified those disparities. In other cases, schools haven’t begun to do that work and are seeking help from our center to help them do that work. And in those cases, we enlist the support of Dr. Kendrick Davis, who is our chief research officer and works with a team of researchers. And what he will do is he will meet and consult with the school or the district to design a customized climate study that typically involves surveys and focus groups and reporting out in public forums and different phases of the project in order to determine what is the experience of students of color disaggregated by different racial and ethnic groups in this school. And what is their experience of curriculum, of the teachers teaching the curriculum? 

Of course, the first phase of this, before jumping into that phase, I should say, that it always begins with looking at the existing data in the school or the district that is the starting point before we even go into further efforts that involve surveys and focus groups and various forms of reporting. And then with that information, the leadership, over time in which this is conducted, in addition to reporting out, offering formal reports to the district and to public forums, including parents and community members, to using that information, to form a plan for professional development or professional learning series that would engage the teachers, school staff, school leadership in a long-term professional learning series. At the Center, we call those Racial Equity Leadership Academies, and those academies are designed to align with what the schools and or individual school will have identified as the most significant racial equity challenge or opportunity their school is facing and on what basis and to what extent can we engage our network of racial equity experts who have specific expertise in each of these different racial equity opportunities or challenges the school is facing to come and work with in meaningful ways with the teachers and the school leaders who are organizing to tackle these.

[00:06:48] Jon M: For collecting a lot of this data and setting up these things, it sounds like you really need the strong cooperation of the school or the district. If teachers or parents come to you, other than say, it being initiated by the principal, is there a set of minimum conditions that you say that you need in order to become involved with school, like you say this doesn’t make any sense to do unless the principal, for example, is a hundred percent behind it? 

[00:07:17] John P: I think what we start with is recognizing that we’re not going to solve all the racism in the building today. And just saying that aloud and recognizing that there are myriad issues related to racial disparities and forms of racism happening in the school building or in the district. And how are we narrowing our focus to the most significant problems? What are they? What are the dimensions of the problem? And how can we organize your coalition of supporters who are raising their hand saying, “I want to tackle this problem. I want to be a part of the change that’s happening in the building,” and that they’re at the table and they’re organized and ready to engage in long-term work over multiple years. And so those are some of the conditions that we’re establishing in the initial conversations with a task force or with the school or a superintendent or a school leader. Because it’s more than just funding; it’s about the extent to which all of the different community assets are at the table. Yes, funding is one of those things. How the building and the environment of the building or the school security are involved and how have those school security positions been reimagined and are also involved in the conversations around how students of color and families of color are experiencing the school and the school environment. That includes the teachers, it includes instructional aids. It includes everyone who’s working with and interacting with students and families. And so if those constituents aren’t present in the conversation, that’s another condition we’re missing in the effort and the initiative. What is the buy-in from each one of these stakeholders and seeing this through? The folks raising their hand, do they have the time and the ability, meaning the privilege in many ways, to be at the table, have the space and are they being funded to carry out this work? And for teachers and staff members, that means buyout of time in their regular schedules. For parents and community members, we recognize that there are folks who are showing up, who care about this, and there are folks who want to be there and can’t be there, expecting the school to do this work and meet these goals, are participating in other ways that may not be showing up to a task force meeting. And so I would say, in addition to who was involved and how their voice is leveraged to advance the work, it’s the recognition that this work needs to be sustained over time, much like action research, interventions need to be planned, carried out, examine the effects of the interventions, and then keep cycling through, to make adjustments and improvements to those different challenges. However, as I said, the dimensions of the challenge are important. Let’s say the disciplinary referrals go down, but we’re seeing an underreferral to gifted and talented education programs or honors and AP classes with specific racial and ethnic groups, then we need to organize around that problem in a very specific way, access different resources and experts to help the task force, tackle that opportunity to increase the learning conditions and opportunities for the students to move into those classes. And that may become into wherever we see, “oh, we’re noticing there was more implicit bias in our observations of classrooms.” Well, where is that data coming from? How are we trained and skilled to see implicit bias in the interactions between teachers and students? And that’s part of the work that comes out of organizing a team to get concrete about what are the racial equity, challenges and opportunities, and how do we work over time to tackle them and partner together.

[00:10:53] Amy H-L: John, how are you defining implicit bias and what are some of the ways it manifests? 

[00:11:00] John P: Oh, that’s a big one. I think beginning with an understanding that we are socialized with an understanding of which different groups we belong to or identify with and how we understand privileges, advantages, and disadvantages associated with those identifiers, whether we accept them or reject and the extent to which we are able to regularly recognize injustices and the ways in which folks are treated within that social system. And in this case, thinking about that being theorized as racism, understanding the way in which we operate within systems, meaning institutions and laws and policies and guidelines that benefit certain groups more than others and the shades and layers of which that occurs relates to whether or not we recognize how we are perpetuating or reproducing forms of marginalization of students or parents or caregivers in our actions as educators. 

 The implicit bias piece is thinking through what was implied by what I just said. “Am I understanding that I am inherently biased by the ways in which I have received various messages about who I am and who others are and how I fit with them in order to critically examine a process of reflection that requires me to think intentionally, with continuous scrutiny, about the assumptions I hold about my perspectives of others and the conclusions that I’m drawing, the decisions that I’m making, the actions that I’m taking?” And in thinking about those things critically, that means that I have to have special attention to the power dynamics that are playing out between me as the educator and my students, or parents, caregivers, or other colleagues in the building and the extent to which I understand where I fit positionally in those conversations. Do I understand that if I am not speaking up, when I see something that is racist or hear something that is racist or racially biased that, in fact, I am allowing harm to occur? I’m a passive bystander when I should be upstanding, saying, “Hey, I noticed this, and I noticed this from my position of privilege and power. I noticed as someone who is existing within this context, that’s sits within the greater social and political context of our own history and this specific location and a school in this state, in the United States. Students are experiencing the effects of this challenge or this bias, or this biased comment that I hear, and am I willing to challenge it? And when I hear it in myself, am I willing to challenge or question critically? Why do I think that? Why do I assume that? And when someone calls me in on a behavior, on a misstep or a mistake that I’ve made, is my reaction to immediately reject it, or is it to embrace the feedback and listen, and believe the person when they say this was harmful to me, maybe you didn’t intend it to be?”

I don’t think very many people or very many students or parents are particularly concerned about the intentions of teachers when they make a racist mistake or express a racial bias. I think what they’re most concerned about is the teacher who did it is going to hear them and understand them and take responsibility for what they said, own up to what they said and acknowledge that this was harmful to their student or to them usually both and work to make amends. But typically we get stuck in the cycle of defending and rejecting the idea that we ever intended tocause harm. And we remain in this defensive position instead of embracing and understanding we all have implicit biases and our work to examine those is never ending. And that if we’re in the professional career of teaching, that we should be engaged in a continuous cycle of critical reflection or to better create learning conditions that better serve our students. 

[00:15:31] Amy H-L: John. I just want to clarify. Are you speaking of random remarks or decisions that an individual educator makes, or are you talking about participation within a biased system? 

[00:15:46] John P: I think that I’m speaking to both. I’m probably not a good, doing a good enough job of teasing them apart. I think that when we think we are neutral In a situation, that we don’t have any particular preference or leaning towards a particular identity or a particular way of being, we’re wrong. And so when we call out a behavior in class that is unacceptable, why is it unacceptable, why are we biased in a particular way? In other words, why do we think a safe and productive classroom is one in which the students are quietly listening and attending to whatever the teacher has say, rather than engaging vociferously, dynamically and passionately, having arguments and discussions about the topic or the concepts that are happening or questioning the assumptions or conclusions that the teacher is making as a participant in the classroom? And so I think that we have preferences, we have biases, we have aversions, and those manifest in different attitudes that come through. And the things we were saying or we’re not saying in any given moment in our interaction with a student, a parent, or someone who is a supervisor or someone who’s reporting to us. And so what I want to get to is the point that with accepting that idea, we live within organizations and institutions that favor certain attitudes, expectations, and as a result of the value system that’s implied by those rules, folks follow the rules to the extent that they see it and/ or reject those rules and the folks who are enforcing them to the extent that they see there’s a problem with it or it benefits them.

And so I think that’s important to start thinking through the work we’re doing when we attempt to address racial implicit bias and the ways in which we have come to understand our racial identifiers and the constructions of other racial groupings and identifiers of others. 

[00:17:52] Jon M: What are some of the best ways to reduce it, especially given that it sounds like it’s both bias that someone expresses in their actions but haven’t been consciously thinking about, and also that the system often is promoting? For example, disproportionate suspensions of young Black men or Black boys is something that is systermic, but it could also be that a teacher’s first response when there’s a problem is “I’m sending you to the principal’s office to get suspended.” How do you address this part of the ongoing work that you’re doing with the school? 

[00:18:31] John P: A couple of things that we’ve noticed in our work I’m at the Center and the research that informs the work we do at the Center. One is that most folks who are speaking up, speaking out, against implicit bias or racist issues that are happening in schools and, and showing up to work in solidarity to challenge those things that are happening, the research demonstrates that these folks usually are folks who think of themselves as having good morals and values, and I lump myself into this category as well, and a code of ethics. And that code of ethics is that they reject racist language, behaviors, or actions. They reject it outright and they speak up about it and they speak up about it at department meetings and or to the principal and towards to parents and caregivers when they notice that the student has used that language and in that way. Most folks are demonstrating a social justice stance. They’re speaking up about societal wrongs. And I would describe this of most educators that I’ve worked with, as a school teacher myself and as a college professor who had worked in teacher preparation and leadership education, that there is a commitment to benevolent acts of kindness, benefit students and families, and protect people who are being wronged by racism in the school, on the campus, in the school district. And along with that, when folks show up to our sessions and say why they joined this work on the DEI task force at their school, they also mention things like how much they care about or love the people of color in their lives and are seeing how racism affects them when they themselves are not the person. That moves into the territory of when the majority of our education, our teaching workforce is white women, and they’re showing up to the task force meetings, one of the things that comes through is the feelings of white fragility, of white guilt, of white avoidance, and feeling embarrassed or ashamed about the ways in which they benefit from a system of oppression that is of harming others. And that, in part, they joined this group to seek out a community of critical friends who are committed to racial justice and are willing to hold each other accountable as they engage in the work. But most importantly, they want to be a part of changes happening in the building in order to create better learning conditions for students of color. 

And I think that that, that came through as we saw the folks protesting in the summer of 2020 in response to the police killings of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor. I think it comes through in the ways in which folks not just showed up to those demonstrates, but were posting photos and videos and messages and hashtags on social media, adding and engaging in other forms of allyship or making donations, buying books, organizing themselves and educating themselves. But I think, to get back, I hope, to your question more specifically, Jon, I think that the way in which folks work through this is have they had a learning experience in which they are learning how to engage in forums of regular critical self-reflection about are they learning to look at their own history of understanding, when did I first understand that I had a racial identity? How was race talked about in my home and family life? How has it continued to be talked about or avoided as a subject in my social circles and at home with my family members? And I think in addition to working on the self, there is working on the self in relation to others in one’s various contexts.

And Richard Milner talks about this in his work. He is a professor at Vanderbilt University and he talks about the teachers and educational researchers focusing on a need to understand yourself in order to engage in work that is ostensibly looking to serve to help others in communities of color and to examine yourself in relation to the educational context or the research contexts in which you’re looking to intervene in order to see social change happen, as well as the third lens being how you understand yourself in relation to the system and to the institutions that you, in this case the public institutions you’re a member of, in order to serve those whom the institutions are intended to serve well.

And so I think those three lenses, self, context, and institutions or systems, are the three lenses in which your biases play out. Your implicit bias is an opportunity well beyond this understanding of the concept that we’re biased and that these come through in our interactions with others, that whereas the opportunity to challenge, to be critical of how we understand race and racism in our lives and how we benefit from it or how we are disadvantaged by it in order to change it, changing the ways in which things are happening in a school to better serve the students in the school, which includes raising the racial awareness and criticality of what white students and other students who benefit from the curriculum and biased teaching practices, be that across different racial, ethnic groups. 

[00:23:57] Jon M: You’re talking about how people who have become aware of their implicit bias and they’re anxious to do something about it, ways that they can be self-reflective. Have you seen strategies in schools that help to open up teachers who aren’t in that place and who may just be feeling very defensive that whenever anybody says anything, they immediately say, oh, you’re calling me a racist and then just shut off completely? How can a school community, how can the teachers and principals break through some of that resistance? Have you seen good examples? 

[00:24:34] John P: I’ve seen the most effective examples being when the school leaders or the folks organizing and partnering with us to facilitate these sessions have built some meaningful rapport and relationships with the teachers in the building and have, with the department or the teachers or the faculty meeting of teachers have regularly worked at creating a space in which, in fact, opposing views are going to come up and that we value criticality. We value interrogating the position or the comment that’s being made, or, and we view the opportunity to unpack it and learn from it. And that seems pretty basic, but that’s not very perfect. And I think that the general consensus that I experienced in those kinds of meetings is that we are going to thrive. We’re going to survive and thrive beyond this meeting. This meeting isn’t going to solve all of our racist problems. And so I think there’s the more effective ones have been in the cases in which questions are intentionally framed around one’s personal relation to the challenge. What is their personal stake in it? How do they identify, how have they experienced if they feel they’ve been called a racist? Why is that? Do they have an opportunity to unpack that further, or are they simply diverting attention to something that wasn’t said in order to evade talking about racism altogether or the ways in which they might be benefiting from a system that might center their lineage or history, heritage in some ways?

 It’s challenging work. And I think that if the opportunity is to help build coalitions with and among teachers who are willing to advance the work, usually in more cases than not, the vast majority of teachers in the room are seeking to learn and understand and have a vocational commitment to creating better learning conditions for their students.

And some of the other pushback has been around the centering of students and families of color. Why should we do that if it comes at the cost of de-centering white students and families? They’re part of our community as well. And so it turns into this false binary. Either one or the other, not both things, can exist.

And so I think navigating those questions and being prepared to engage meaningfully requires important relationships that are built over time. And in some cases, when folks who are disagreeing or feeling harmed by engaging in conversations about race and racism and feel personally put out, I think that’s an opportunity for school leaders and colleagues to debrief with that person and engage them outside of the conversation. And I think this takes time. I think it has taken time and we’ve learned a lot from folks who are resistant to it, but I also think like most professional learning or professional development initiatives throughout our 200 plus years of public schooling in the United States, we’ve learned a lot in the research on professional development. And that is that if folks are being told they have to show up and it’s a compliance-based activity, they will show up, they will check the boxes. Some of them may speak up and disagree about the question or the situation that you raised earlier, .Jon. But in most cases, the folks who are looking to improve their teaching or are personally invested in seeing changes in their classrooms are going to seek to get something more out of that experience. And so what we try to avoid doing at the Center is very, very short term or one professional development workshop, and then take a more partnered approach, that even if we cannot provide three years of support or there’s limited funding, et cetera, that we can work together with them on a path towards longer term, sustained engagement and expect that not everyone’s going to agree. If that person who is so offended disagrees, are they willing to be part of the coalition that’s going to continue to work on the challenges facing students of color in the building, families of color in the building, and the curriculum, or are they there to simply state their own viewpoint and leave? And I think that part of that work is understanding how we support leaders who are attempting to sustain it over time without getting burnt out and shutting down themselves.

And I think that comes back to maybe an earlier consideration I raised around who in the building is raising their hand passionately to be involved and see this through and not just where the two years left in the budget cycle or the three years left or their kid is currently in that school. There are parents who stay long engaged after their kid has graduated from a school and continued to serve that community. 

[00:29:37] Amy H-L: That actually is a question I wanted to ask about, which is what happens when leaders leave? A school has natural attrition although you say that some parents stay engaged long after their students have graduated, and for the most part, people move on. What does that look like over time?

Well it takes very different, various different directions. I think that first, we typically have stayed connected to a school leader who has initiated this work and has moved on to another position. Or maybe they’ve gone up to the central office for that school principalship. Maybe they were at central office and left to go become a superintendent somewhere else and lead another district. That what’s important in those partnerships is that what we’re committed to doing is making meaningful, deep connections with all the educators in the room with whatever room we’re in, when we’re partnering with a school. And so there might be an educator at the table who next year, as the assistant principal, now has positional power in a way that she, he, or they didn’t have in the year before. 

[00:30:48] John P: I think our job is to not only stay connected to the individuals, but also think about, when we’re working with any task force or committee, what is their emphasis for staying connected to this work? Are they in it for the long haul and how, when their positions change, how will they leverage those positions to have even an even greater effect on the change efforts happening in the building, and that we’re looking for incremental change with their participation. One example that happened more recently is we had a principal who moved into a district position, but stayed connected to the new principals in the building because, along with the principal, an assistant principal also left the same year this individual left. So a new principal, a new assistant principal, but the exiting principal, for the year following, continued to, stay connected, to show up to the DEI committee meetings regularly, on the phone with the new principal offering coaching and additional advising and support. And continued to stay connected with us, and out of love, support, dedication to the school community and to the educators in the building who were looking to see the stroke. In addition to doing that, and I would say is probably an exception, he also worked with us to figure out how could he advance this work in his new position, which was entirely different from leading us. And now he’s running a central office department and they’re responsible for district-wide offices and initiatives, and and it’s in a very specific area, school operations, district operations.

And so I think that those are other examples that come through. I think that this has been instructive to us in thinking about who are these school leaders, what makes up the profile of the anti-racist school leader who is continuously committed to seeing this work through, no matter what position they find themselves in the year after. And I would say that what’s important, as well, is that we’ve noticed those school leaders aren’t just staying in a position for two years and moving on typically. And I think that. You know, we have learned a lot from, from them. I think probably as much as I hope that they’ve learned from the professional learning series in which we’ve worked with a nationally known experts in each of these specific racial equity topics and challenges that schools have faced.

[00:33:16] Jon M: You do a lot of work with schools in the LA Unified School District, including a project with a number of schools that began just before the pandemic. Would you talk about that project? 

[00:33:26] John P: In March, 2020, we launched our first racial equity leadership academy with a cohort of 82 school principals in the district who responded to an invitation to join this racial equity, leadership, professional learning series and passionately raised our hand, saying, “I want to see racial equity gains in my school.” And with that inaugural cohort, we started in person. There was a word that this pandemic was coming. We didn’t know where it was going to lead. And then we moved to a virtual series when it happened, like the rest of the world essentially did, we moved online to Zoom. And rather than having these in-person full day immersion retreats, workshops, if you will, we continued, on a monthly and in some cases bi-weekly basis, to continue our professional learning sessions with our nationally known experts and to work with every individual school principal to design and carry out a strategic racial equity project with their project team or their DEI task force at their individual schools.

And so I think that this relates to earlier questions you had about how do we help schools first identify well, how do you know that there’s a racial equity problem in your school? What’s the data, on what basis, are you drawing these conclusions and what specifically is the problem? And so we work with an eight-part project framework to assist the project teams in designing and carrying out their projects. And so we continued that work. We continue it now. We’ll continue to work through this summer of 2022 with those school leaders. 

And the second cohort we worked with are a group of community of school administrators known as COSAs. And the COSAs are a group that was a position that was new under Superintendent Austin Buetner that essentially took a small schools approach to introducing a new position for the district that we have in LAUSD, these large areas, and so we have area superintendents. And so, much like New York City public schools, where you have boroughs, regions of the city of LA, which were geographically mapped to include the hundreds of schools that are in each of those areas. And so under Buettner, he essentially created 42 at the time. I don’t know what the current number is. Communities of schools and these communities of schools had around 30 schools and 30 school principals along with their assistant principals, et cetera. And so really taking a smaller school community philosophy to introducing a school leadership position that would work more closely with a smaller group of schools. And so those COSAs or community school administrators then joined a series with us. We had a 12 sessions, I believe it was 12 sessions, with our COSAs and similarly worked with them to think about how they were organizing to address racial equity challenges and opportunities within that community of schools. That was a tall order because it was an entirely new position, but they were starting during the. pandemic and they were getting their footing as they were starting in those leadership positions, having just left the principalship and really getting to know and build community with their principals, who were leading the schools in their community of schools. We continued to offer targeted support sessions for those school leaders who are seeing through racial equity initiatives in their school or the community of schools, and that’s been an incredibly rewarding process to work with those leaders who continue to advocate for racial equity gains in their schools.

[00:37:02] Amy H-L: Many educational leaders talk about the importance of parent involvement, but schools frequently don’t do a good job of actually involving parents, especially low-income parents and communities of color in actual decision-making. How do you envision changing those relationships? 

[00:37:26] John P: I think how we decide what constitutes parental involvement is a starting point for us as school leaders and school teachers. What we [inaudible], and this goes back to the conversation, the complicated conversation, on implicit bias. What do we think looks like, sounds like, feels like strong parental involvement and how are we reproducing ideas that have existed decades throughout our whole life, in terms of our experience as a child of K-12 schooling and the manner in which our parents were involved or not involved? And so that looks very different in 2022 than it did for me in 1987 or 1985 as a five-year-old. What it looks like is, the ways in which parents, caregivers have access to, through social media, through learning platforms, learning management systems that the school is using to participate and stay in touch with teachers and school leaders and have more access to talking to a teacher on a social media platform of some kind, be it a closed platform, or the teacher is on some form of social media and stays connected to the parents that way. I think that what it looks like, what it has looked like, is that folks are following what’s happening at the school. Folks are posting on their, students are posting on their experiences at school. Parents are commenting and seeing what’s happening and staying connected to their principal leadership and the teachers in terms of how they. are surveyed or polled about their experience of the school. How intentionally is that done? How often is it done? Are they working with a survey expert to regularly conduct those surveys and to stay connected to them through public reporting on that information? Is there in addition to having the in-person meetings, which during the pandemic has been slim? Is it being live streamed in any kind of way? Is it being recorded and disseminated over a platform or a YouTube channel at the school has it set up in which parents can also see what’s going on or happening in those meetings whether they’re at work on the job, or are able to watch it in between. And so I think that showing up to a parent teacher conference is no longer a substitute for the multiple options that are available to teachers and parents to stay connected to one another. I think that’s also true in terms of how parents have had greater access through these learning platforms like Canvas or other K-12 platforms to what’s happening with grades and what’s happening with feedback and the teacher’s ability to email the parents. I think that what it comes back to is what is the mindset position, perspective, of the educator, of the school leaders. How are those attitudes and biases coming through in terms of how they expect the parent to respond to them or they haven’t been responsive over certain channels? Am I dismissing them as unresponsive? And by dismissing them as not caring or not showing up when I don’t even know if those emails are getting to them or if they’re getting the social media or the text notifications or whatever the school platform is set up to do? I think part of this is just figuring, asking parents generally, what works for you? How do you want to be connected? And what’s meaningful, what do you think is a meaningful way to be involved? And what are your limitations to being involved? And how can the school be flexible and offer a greater range of accommodations to stay connected to parents who do care about their students and their students’ wellbeing? And what are the parents’ expectations of the school and are those clear? Is there a space in which those are invited, not just heard and put aside as a complaints, that there is content, there is information, in that complaint that is worth validating, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, that could change the way you offer options and channels for parents to be involved?

[00:41:41] Jon M: Thank you, Dr. John Pascarella of the USC Race and Equity Center. 

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