Equity/Social Justice FAQ
AACPS is commited to Equity and Social Justice. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to help understand the journey that AACPS is undertaking to ensure that All Means All:
What is meant by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
All of the ways in which individuals are unique:
All our human differences...which exist along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
The ongoing process of providing all students what they need to be successful. Equity is NOT providing all students the same thing or taking away anything from any students.
Instead, it means granting every student access to the opportunities, resources, and educational rigor they need throughout their educational career to maximize academic success and emotional well-being and viewing each student's individual characteristics as valuable.
The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.
What is Social Justice?
Social Justice is any action taken that minimizes conflict and focuses on changing the attitudes and behaviors of a dominant group by: reducing prejudice, promoting action against inequality, raising consciousness, and focusing on improving conditions for historically excluded groups. Social Justice education focuses on critical thinking, creating inclusive classrooms and curriculum, and providing knowledge and skills to be a thoughtful citizen in our democracy.
What is anti-bias education?
Education that helps children learn to be proud of themselves and their families, respect a range of human differences, recognize unfairness and bias, and speak up for the rights of others.
What is systemic racism?
Systemic racism does not refer to individual actors, but looks at how systems operate. According to Dr. Robin DiAngelo, “When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far reaching system that functions far from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.” Systemic racism includes the policies, practices, and attitudes that routinely produce cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color, and Black people in particular. In its Equity Policy, AACPS “acknowledges the historical, generational, and compounding reality of the systems, structures, and practices that have intentionally and unintentionally created and continued to afford advantages to some student groups while perpetuating inequities for others. AACPS must take responsibility and action for dismantling, and actively repairing these inequities to ensure positive educational outcomes for all AACPS students.”
What does it mean to be "antiracist?"
Being antiracist, means one who is actively working against racism. It is making a commitment to resisting unjust laws, policies, and racist attitudes. Antiracism is how we get free from centuries of living in a racialized society that keeps us separated and oppressed. It is not our words that matter as much as our actions.
Why does AACPS support the statement: "black lives matter?"
The AACPS Board of Education believes that the march to true equality begins when a community insists on providing its children with an honest accounting of the past and imparting to them values of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion. Part of that repair is to openly acknowledge that Black lives matter. As former Board Member Drake Smith articulated in his statements during the December 16, 2020 meeting of the Board, “Black lives matter. No more, no less. That is all...Black and Brown boys and girls need to hear it.”
Are we "indoctrinating" kids?
No. The word indoctrination means to teach a group “to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” AACPS encourages educators to teach students to think critically. Our Superintendent, Dr. Arlotto, has acknowledged that we must do a better job of not “whitewashing history" To this end, the Equity Policy and Regulations have mandated that AACPS examine curriculum and use an Equity Lens in reviews of staff, curriculum, pedagogy, professional development, instructional materials, and assessment design.
Is this focus on equity a choice that AACPS is making?
According to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) Chapter 13A.01.06.Educational Equity; each Maryland Public School will “provide every student equitable access to educational rigor, resources, and supports that are designed to maximize the student’s academic success and social/emotional well-being.” In accordance with this state regulation, AACPS crafted its Equity Policy and Regulations. Not only is “All Means All” a driving value of AACPS, but it is the policy in our school district and the expectation in the state of Maryland.