“What inspires you to create and sustain culturally responsive, equitable, and racially just education systems and practices?”-Dr. Saroja Warner, Director of Talent Development and Diversity at WestEd
This was one of the insightful questions that was asked during WestEd’s recent Twitter Chat. WestEd, the dynamic educational research, development, and services agency, hosted a progressive online conversation on the systems, beliefs, and practices necessary to advance racial equity research. This virtual event drew a myriad of respondents, inclusive of comments and recommendations offered by teachers, consultants, Ph.D. students, research associates, school superintendents, and administrators. One of the resources referenced during this wide-ranging Twitter Chat, was a new book entitled, Dismantling Disproportionality: A Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Systems Approach.
Authored by a cadre of NYU Metro Center staffers and alum, “Dismantling Disproportionality” is a book that offers readers the opportunity to learn about a culturally responsive approach to disrupting educational inequities. This Teachers College Press book presents a framework to deliver educational services to all students, equipping educators with both operative strategies and heartening inspiration to conduct the anti-racist work necessary to confront historical and systemic oppression and foster a more just future for our children.
“Dismantling Disproportionality” is a text that draws on the authors’ experiences as technical assistance providers with the Center for Disproportionality, coupled with the latest research findings on the causes of racial disproportionality in general and special education. The book’s authors Dr. María G. Hernández, David M. Lopez, and Reed Swier, remind us that we can dismantle disproportionality when we ask critical questions and authorize ourselves to be brave and take action. These actions include incorporating culturally responsive practices into foundational education structures, in addition to concurrently and courageously shifting racist mindsets and policies.
As an equity resource, “Dismantling Disproportionality” powerfully demonstrates the honesty and truth telling required to effectively engage with districts and schools regarding how race and racism impact students, families, and educators. The book shares four case study chapters that underscore the diverse pathways in which school districts were engaged. Throughout these chapters, the authors examine critical components of addressing disproportionality such as leadership, district messaging, internal capacity building, and individual's and district’s overall commitment to dismantling disproportionality in education settings. The authors conclude that the most effective way to address disproportionality is to use a culturally responsive educational systems approach that critically engages practitioners at the intersection of beliefs, policies, procedures, and practices.
Practical recommendations of this new book have come from throughout the education community, including from school district administrators. Buffalo Public Schools’ Associate Superintendent, Fatima Morrell has been among those to praise “Dismantling Disproportionality''. Named one of TIME Magazine’s Innovative Teachers of 2022, Ms. Morrell hails the book as an essential resource for any school and district communities, regardless of where they are “... in the journey of dismantling systems that have produced disproportionate, racialized outcomes for our students.” Throughout the text, “Dismantling Disproportionality,” authors are encouraging and hopeful, sharing tried and proven remedies to both install culturally responsive practices into school and districts and restore students, families, and communities harmed by systemic racism and deficit thinking. It is in regard to the book’s unapologetic focus and approach to disproportionality that it receives its highest kudos yet. The Buffalo Public Schools’ Associate Superintendent not only concurs with the book’s teachings, but Fatima Morrell calls Dismantling Disproportionality: A Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Systems Approach “...a must have resource for all educational leaders.”
Dismantling Disproportionality: A Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Approach
This new book is written by a quartet of NYU Metro Center staffers and alum, including Dr. María G. Hernández, David M. Lopez, and Reed Swier, with Jaspreet Kaur. Their new book is currently available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook.