Our country has a long history of social movements that fight inequity, injustice, and institutionalized oppression and which are led by marginalized or oppressed groups. But the educational equity “movement” is unique in that it has, from the beginning, been led largely by white, economically privileged leaders and funders, while the communities most impacted by educational injustice are largely brown, black, and poor.
The outcomes of this disconnect are approaches, practices, and structures that are not deeply and authentically informed by the communities being served. They often lack sociological and cultural context and relevance. This reinforces power dynamics between school leaders and families, educators and students, and organizational leaders and their key constituencies. And these dynamics perpetuate dominant white culture, practices, and beliefs and maintain the systemic oppression living comfortably and largely untouched at the root of educational inequity.
In recent years, the consciousness about this disconnect has risen in our field, and with that increased awareness has come a desire to change. School leaders have started to shift away from zero-tolerance discipline policies that fuel the school-to-prison pipeline and towards restorative justice approaches. Educators have started to examine pedagogy for cultural relevance. Organizational leaders have started to prioritize diversifying their organizations. Funders have started to see the dramatic lack of ways to track data and metrics related to diversifying school staff, organizational leaders, and volunteer bases and boards.
As more nonprofits, charter schools and networks, and district leaders have come to our Bellwether Talent Advising practice frustrated by lack of progress on their diversity, equity, and inclusion aspirations, we have articulated an approach called the Funnel of Impact. This approach helps organizational leaders to build and run educational equity organizations that are what we call “talent-ready,” organizations that live and act in deep alignment with beliefs around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Continue reading
Look across the sector and you’ll find countless organizations focused on the important work of developing broader teacher and leader pipelines to education organizations. Teach for America, TNTP, New Leaders, Education Pioneers, Encore Fellows Network, The Broad Residency, The Strategic Data Project, and the new The Surge Fellowship are some of the more well known examples. Each has changed the national conversation about who works in education, which skills are needed, and what it takes to get high-caliber professionals in the organizations that need them most.
But what happens when a talented teacher, principal, or system-level leader lands in an organization that’s not equipped to allow him or her to thrive? As a field, we’ve spent more than a decade focusing on the supply side of the talent equation without commensurate consideration for building talent-ready organizations that are innovative, effectively managed, and joyful places to work that generate dramatic results for students.
At Bellwether we are proud to announce our expanded Talent Services practice to support organizations to become talent-ready. Grounded in our track record of success placing transformational leaders in new roles and our disciplined strategic approach to growing effective organizations, Talent Services captures the best of Bellwether’s integrated approach.