Our diversity and inclusion statements need to get structural, get social, and get equity literate. Use them to directly challenge the meritocracy myths, deficit ideologies, and politics of resentment that are toxic to culture, teams, and collaboration.
I evaluate D&I statements by the extent to which they acknowledge and represent these ideas:
- the social model of disability – Education, Neurodiversity, the Social Model of Disability, and Real Life
- neurodiversity, neurotype – Neurodiversity and Cognition Representation
- power, privilege, injustice, equity literacy – Equity Literate Education: Fix Injustice, Not Kids
- intersectionality – Design is Tested at the Edges: Intersectionality, The Social Model of Disability, and Design for Real Life
- structural ideology – structural ideology > deficit ideology
- psychological safety – Bringing Safety to the Serendipity in Digital Pedagogy, Projects, Teams, and Psychological Safety
designing for pluralism – Classroom UX: Designing for Pluralism
- identity-first language – Identity First
- invisible disability – Transitioning from invisible to visible disability
The Direct Confrontation Principle: There is no path to equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity. There is no path to racial equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with interpersonal, institutional, and structural racism. “Equity” approaches that fail to directly confront inequity play a significant role in sustaining inequity.
The “Poverty of Culture” Principle: Inequities are primarily power and privilege problems, not primarily cultural problems. Equity requires power and privilege solutions, not just cultural solutions. Frameworks that attend to diversity purely in vague cultural terms, like the “culture of poverty,” are no threat to inequity.
The Prioritization Principle: Each policy and practice decision should be examined through the question, “How will this impact the most marginalized members of our community?” Equity is about prioritizing their interests.
The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle: Educational outcome disparities are not the result of deficiencies in marginalized communities’ cultures, mindsets, or grittiness, but rather of inequities. Equity initiatives focus, not on fixing marginalized people, but on fixing the conditions that marginalize people.
With this in mind, my purpose is to argue that when it comes to issues surrounding poverty and economic justice the preparation of teachers must be first and foremost an ideological endeavour, focused on adjusting fundamental understandings not only about educational outcome disparities but also about poverty itself. I will argue that it is only through the cultivation of what I call a structural ideology of poverty and economic justice that teachers become equity literate (Gorski 2013), capable of imagining the sorts of solutions that pose a genuine threat to the existence of class inequity in their classrooms and schools.