There is no EQUITY without ENERGY and ACCOUNTABILITY
School districts are masterful at spending immense amounts of time and money on equity work. From high-priced guest speakers, book study groups, and all-day workshops, education leaders lean on these age-old tactics to “do equity”. But unfortunately, these practices, nearly 100% of the time, results in little to no change in practice, no substantial improvement to student outcomes, and a lot of wasted time and money.
To better develop equity initiatives, leaders should employ the T.A.M.E. framework™. I developed this framework as a simple way to organize highly effective equity initiatives. Before launching any equity-centered program or practice, the development committee needs to have solid answers as to how they are deploying Time, Money, Energy, and Accountability.
The T.A.M.E. framework™ explained:
Time — When will you spend IMPORTANT (not ancillary) time on this work?
- Equity work remains fringe work because we treat it that way; voluntary equity working groups, optional book studies and PDs, afterschool meetings, etc. Important work happens during work hours. Therefore, if equity work is to be seen as important work, it must be scheduled, consistently (at least one hour every two weeks) during mandatory work hours.
Money — Who is getting compensated for doing the work?
- Voluntary equity committees slowly fall apart when the work gets hard. Equity work, especially with relation to addressing racism, is very tough and puts immense strain on those leading the work as well as the organization as individuals grapple with the intense emotions (shame, guilt, anger) that come along with these topics. If the leaders of this work are not getting duly compensated, they will, as they should, jump ship when the work gets tough.
Energy — Who EXACTLY will continue to dedicate time and energy to doing the work?
- After the consultant’s contract ends, who is accountable for leading the work. Too often, the work ends as soon as the consultant’s time is up. Unless, of course, the organization has identified specific individuals within the organization to lead, sustain, and be accountable for making sure the equity work continues. The common phrase, “everybody owns the work” ultimately translates to “no one is actually accountable”. Therefore, identifying at least 3 leaders of the work will increase the likelihood of it continuing.
Accountability — How will you know you have accomplished your goals?
- Begin with the end in mind. Equity work necessitates measurable goals that can be observed, measured, and celebrated once accomplished. Nebulous, undefined, elusive goals that involve hours and hours of professional development with no defined outcome leaves people feeling frustrated, tired, and disinterested. Prior to considering professional development sessions or plotting workshops on a calendar, leaders absolutely must determine the problem they are trying to solve and identify measures of success that will signify the problem is being effectively addressed.
Schools and school districts move at lightning speed and often desire to “do equity” right away. Leaders within these organizations must resist the urge to short-circuit the effectiveness of their equity efforts by failing to identify every aspect of the T.A.M.E. framework™. Similarly, if an equity initiative is currently stalling or proving ineffective, employing the T.A.M.E. framework™ to identify the weaknesses of the effort and course-correct may prove useful to getting the initiative back on-track.