Friday’s Building Bridges conversation was led by Dr. Terrence Green who came to share his tool for measuring Community Equity Literacy in school leadership. Dr. Green was there at the request of the Community Engagement Center which has taken stewardship of every third Friday’s Building Bridges conversation as a way to connect the University with the community.
Dr. Green is an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Texas in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. His research focuses on school and community leaders, and the impact they can have on creating urban school reform and a socially just community.
Dr. Green shared that he was attending the Building Bridges conversation to engage in a true dialogue, instead of just giving a presentation on his findings because, “universities do not have a monopoly on answers and experiences.” Therefore, he asked the gathered participants on that Friday to give him feedback and critiques on the community equity tool he was developing.
The community equity tool aims to name and quantify how school leaders successfully partner and engage with their communities to leverage community assets, and create equitable school reform. The tool measures a school leader’s equity literacy. The tool identifies several areas which successful school leaders use to create positive strides in equity for their community.
These areas, which are still under development, include:
- Community power Structure: the extent to which school leaders use their power “with” and not “over” the community
- Community assets: the ways in which school leaders leverage community assets and avoid deficit thinking.
- School and community equity: successful school leaders work with school and community equity in mind.
- Community history: the extent to which the school leader operates with knowledge of the community’s history and incorporates that knowledge when making decisions.
- Reciprocity: the ways that the leader develops a reciprocal partnership between the school and the community.
Once fully developed, this tool could help developing school leaders to measure their progress in equity literacy so that they can develop their skills in targeted ways. Additionally, this measurement tool could create an infrastructure for equity that would mitigate the effects of changes in school leadership. Leaders can use the equity tool as a rubric that allows them to continue and build upon the work of their predecessors, creating sustainable models for community equity.
Dr. Green asked the Building Bridges attendees to rank the areas from most to least important, and then asked them to share their rankings and analysis with the group. He would use the rankings to inform the numerical values assigned to each category, and their weighted importance. The feedback from the group could help identify gaps in the categories and any additions that needed to be made.
Responses varied amongst the attendees. Some considered Community Power Structure to be the most important, while others focused on Community Assets. One participant pointed out that rather than being ranked, the categories could be viewed as a sequence. For example, a school leader may need to understand community history before being able to work with true equity in mind; the categories could be sequential, but equally important.
Dr. Green concluded the conversation by thanking participants for their feedback, and committing to continue to solicit community perspectives. He reiterated the idea that a model focused on the community should not be created solely in a university, a lesson that he well understood as a former high school science teacher himself.
You can find updates on Dr. Green’s research and work here.