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SXSWedu Day 3: Let’s Talk About Equity

Thoughts on Closing Opportunity Gaps in STEM

The Austin weather certainly didn’t cooperate, but Day 3 at SXSWedu was nonetheless an another one for the books. Panels on closing opportunity gaps and the  discussion of equity in STEM really stuck with us. Keynote speaker Jane McGonigal perhaps said it best when she spoke about the idea of being a futurist. As educators, we are all futurists who want bigger and better things, including equity and access, for the next generation of learners. To make the future better, you have to make it different. Cultural shifts and change are critical to building the foundation that will ensure future generations of students, regardless of who they are or where they’re from, can succeed. 

At a mid-day policy panel on Educational Equity, The Future of Socioeconomic School Integration, one of the most notable quotes was from Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation. He remarked that multiple research studies tell us that “Diversity makes us smarter” and that everyone in an integrated school environment, and the community realize multiple benefits. They extend from higher educational achievement, lifelong success in relationships and career, and the soft skills everyone needs to succeed in the workplace. Read some related research in the study How-Racially-Diverse-Schools-and-Classrooms-Can-Benefit All Students. Panelist Nikole Hannah Jones, a reporter for The New York Times, has covered the education beat for many years, and brought 562: The Problem We All Live With to This American Life on NPR that is a ‘don’t miss’ for anyone interested in this important issue.

Harvey Chism of the NYC Department of Education addressed why No One Cares About Standards – We Want Skills and what he, his colleagues, and the GE Foundation are doing about it with an innovative pilot program called Skills Labs. Its goal is to expand the quality and quantity of 21st century skills for success to all students into school and non-school settings, enhancing feedback, and deepening collaboration for all. Chism said, “When we focus on standards and skills, they need to be clear and relevant to teachers and students.” Connect to the program via twitter @NYC_Skills_Lab.

You can find more information about closing the opportunity gap for girls in STEM here. And we’ll be back at it tomorrow for the final day of SXSWedu! Follow us @DreamBox_Learn.

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