This month, NAPE celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday by honoring his legacy as a bridge builder and tireless advocate for equal rights. We celebrate his courageous march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which brought attention to the barriers that prevented many African Americans from accessing the right to vote. As educational equity leaders, we too can be bridge builders. We can strengthen access to and equity within our institutions, and we can seek to eliminate barriers that prevent students from realizing their potential. This month, as we reflect on Dr. King’s legacy as a bridge builder and barrier breaker, we challenge everyone to pause and ask themselves—What actions have I taken or will I take to ensure that Dr. King’s legacy as a bridge builder and barrier breaker continues?
Because bridges are designed to help people transition to the other side, we can ask ourselves:
- Are we building bridges to help students successfully transition to the next level, whether that level is a higher proficiency in a subject matter, moving to the next grade, or transitioning to the next level in their college or career journey?
- Are we helping students move their dreams to a plan and then their plan to reality?
We can strive to build B.R.I.D.G.E.S. that will prepare our students to transition to the next level by building their Brilliance, Resilience, Innovation, Growth-mindset, Endurance and Self-Efficacy. We can:
- help them see their Brilliance, even if it might be hiding underneath the layers of doubt that may have been created by negative micromessages and life experiences;
- tap into their Resilience, which will allow them to bounce back from temporary setbacks and disappointments;
- create environments that welcome and celebrate Innovation and that are not confined by rigid rules;
- fuel a Determination to excel;
- teach them to have a Growth-mindset, that is, how to learn from failure and not be afraid of the challenges they might encounter;
- encourage them to strengthen their Endurance and persevere and persist in the face of obstacles; and
- build their Self-Efficacy by providing short-term goals that will inspire them to believe they can accomplish their tasks.
Bridges also fill a gap.
- Are we working to ensure that no gaps exist in what our students are learning?
- Are we finding creative ways to fill the gaps in students’ academic or professional preparedness so that they can successfully compete in their career of choice?
What action will you take in 2018?
- Will you build bridges to access, equity, and diversity?
- Will you commit to building bridges and not walls?
- Will you build connections and avoid creating divisions?
- Will you refuse to be complicit in systems that create barriers to access and equity?
- Will you seek to open pathways that expand access and opportunities for all students?
- Will you call out people, policies, and practices that impede progress on closing the gaps and that consciously or unconsciously deny access by perpetuating the status quo?
- Will you build bridges between K-12 and higher education?
- Will you build bridges between schools and industry?
- Will you build bridges between schools and the community?
These are questions we should ask ourselves if we are truly interested in strengthening access, equity, and diversity at the institutional level.
As we reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and this year’s National Summit for Educational Equity theme, Building Bridges to Strengthen Access, Equity, and Diversity, NAPE invites you to join us in remembering this bridge builder by doing one or both of the following:
- registering for the National Summit for Educational Equity
- Telling us how you have or will build bridges to strengthen equity, access, and diversity. Join the conversation on Facebook (@NAPEquity) or Twitter (#NAPEquity). Use the hashtags:
- Remembering #MLK
- I am a #Bridgebuilder
- Register for #NSEE18
This year’s Summit will be held in Arlington, VA, from April 16-19, 2018. Register in January, using coupon code VOUCHER18, to receive the early bird rate and a voucher to purchase an equity resource at the NAPE store.