Educators As "Equity Warriors"

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Despite the multifaceted causes of educational disparities, schools’ responsibility for reducing inequality undergirds American ideals. Educators operate as street-level bureaucrats to accomplish this equalizing work. Surprisingly, we know little about how teachers think about inequality or enact strategies to combat it, even though their execution of this mandate is almost certainly mediated through pre-existing understandings. This paper provides a framework (applicable to other sectors) to examine educators’ beliefs about inequality and their role in advancing equity. To progress, teachers need to believe that doing so is valuable, feel empowered to overcome disadvantage, and be willing to make tradeoffs in pursuit of equity goals. Our framework highlights the salience of individual differences between lowand highachievers as a form of inequality that may divert teachers’ focus from the structural inequality that is central to policy and sociological concern. We test this framework empirically using novel survey data from over 1,500 teachers collected in a diverse urban school district. Although most surveyed teachers believe addressing inequality is important and feel empowered to do so, many seemingly equity-minded educators do not endorse strategies aligned with closing racial and socioeconomic inequality—indicating an important barrier to reducing inequality.

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APA Citation

Rochmes, J., Penner, E.K., & Loeb, S. (2017). Educators As "Equity Warriors".