The Equity Lecture Series, a series of events designed to increase awareness and introduce skills for creating equity in classrooms will begin with a guest speaker from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 9 in the Palo Alto Unified School District board room.
“I started this [the Equity Lecture Series] because I wanted to have a continuous stream of information regarding equity,” said Keith Wheeler, the academic support and equity initiatives coordinator for PAUSD.
According to Wheeler, the biggest part of his job is to facilitate the district’s equity plan. “What better than to bring the country’s most experienced researchers on equity for K-12?” Wheeler said.
The Equity Lecture Series will have from three to four events, and each event will be open to anyone who wants to come, according to Wheeler.
The first event of the series hosts Tyrone Howard, a professor of education at UCLA, as a guest speaker on race, culture, and gender in the classroom. According to Wheeler, Howard specializes in equity for African American and Hispanic students.
A flyer advertising this event mentions three of the points that will be addressed: racial awareness in the classroom, the development of cultural competence, and how poverty intersects with race, culture, and gender.
Following this event, Wheeler will moderate an equity discussion panel sometime in February featuring staff, students, and parents. Wheeler said he hopes to hear from historically unrepresented staff and students, along with parents’ perspectives on the matter of equity.
“The goal is for this [Palo Alto] to become a hub for equity in the Bay Area,” Wheeler said. “We want people from across the state to come and learn. We want our work to have a statewide effect.”
Events in March include a summary of the Equity Lecture Series and a survey asking for community feedback. According to Wheeler, he especially seeks student opinions because they are asked to participate in a lot of these events.
“This is an opportunity for the community to become engaged, to learn beyond the four walls of school buildings,” Wheeler said. “I want people to give it an honest opportunity.”