More than 500 educators from across the county gathered at the 3rd annual Equity Symposium to renew their inspiration and grow their understanding of how to make equity a reality for all students.
State Assemblymember Dr. Shirley N. Weber kicked off the event with a personal and poignant message and added that she hopes the efforts championed at this event spread throughout the state.
Educational equity means that every student has access, opportunities, and supports to thrive in school and be prepared for success in college and career.
"We know any child can learn anything under the right circumstances and supports," said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold, who opened the annual two-day event with a look at regional graduation and economic data.
The San Diego County Office of Education began the Equity Symposium in 2016 shortly after the state rolled out a new financial and accountability system. Since then, several state initiatives and grants have focused on increasing equity in our schools, so that every group of students performs on average at the same high level in the same rigorous coursework.
"We have a crisis," Weber told the crowd on Thursday. "The crisis is us in changing what we do and believing we can educate every child as if they were our own child."
This year's Equity Symposium featured half a dozen nationally known experts on educational equity. Thursday morning keynote author Zaretta Hammond spoke to her research into culturally relevant teaching, which is more than a hug and personalized handshake with the teacher at the classroom door, she said.
Culturally responsive teaching is used to get students ready for rigor; it centers on improving the learning capacity of students, she explained.
"This event and this work is so necessary," said San Diego County Board of Education President Guadalupe Gonzalez. "From what I've seen, San Diego County is at the forefront of understanding what equity is and how to implement it."
San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Martin said this year's line-up of speakers and presenters at the Equity Symposium will help educators take the next steps to put equity in action.
"It's phenomenal, relevant, and meaningful for educators at all levels," she said.
The Equity Symposium continues tomorrow at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. The event hashtag is #SDEquity to join the conversation or find out more.