Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University
Rhetoric emphasizing schools’ role in reducing racial and socioeconomic inequality is prevalent in districts as well as in state and federal policy. But does this rhetoric reach into the classroom, where students are? To make progress in closing gaps, frontline practitioners in schools—teachers and administrators—likely need to share in the belief that doing so is valuable, to feel that they can make a difference, and to be willing to make tradeoffs in pursuit of equity goals. In spite of the prominent role that they are intended to play in reducing inequality, we know little about what educators think, believe, and value when it comes to achievement gaps. My research pursues a greater understanding of these educator beliefs. This seminar will present novel survey data collected in a major urban district. We find that teachers overwhelmingly view gaps as important, but they vary considerably in the types of gaps they prefer to address and in their beliefs that they can make a difference. Moreover, many otherwise equity-minded educators are unwilling to make costly tradeoffs to advance equity goals. I will discuss how teacher and school characteristics relate to individual teachers’ beliefs and attitudes, as well as on-going data collection that aims to answer questions about whether equity attitudes change over time and how they predict students’ learning and behavioral outcomes in ways that have implications for reducing educational inequality.