Social Justice and Equity in Education
With extensive knowledge of best practices and current research, our experienced, highly qualified professionals serve as a valuable resource for schools and organizations planning and conducting work around important and increasingly evident issues of equity and bias, and racism.
We know that institutions are a network of human relationships. So social justice work is community work, and keeps the relationships at the center. We work to focus on making our relationships sustainable, healing the harms that come from oppression, and identifying the brilliance and capacity in each community.
We work closely with communities to co-construct proactive approaches toward joyful inclusive environments where all can equitably thrive. We use research-based relational, values-centered, and experiential approaches to collectively investigate and take action on the challenges, needs, assets, and dreams of your community.
In schools, we believe student experiences and agency are at the heart of the work. Our approaches to equity work center student voices, strengthen intergenerational relationships, and build collective action between students, educators, and leaders.
We also know that transformative work requires a multilayered approach. It’s not one single action. Because of this, we are committed to being available to you over time as the work evolves.
Strategies for social change cannot be predetermined. Complete and enduring strategies can only emerge with the inclusion of the voices of everyone involved. Outcomes of social change efforts cannot be predicted prior to the implementation of the effort. An interactive process of collective dialogue for deciding on a course of action, implementing that course of action, and using the feedback from that intervention to determine next steps, produces the most effective and sustainable praxis. When young people are included in discussions about transformation, the selected course of action will more likely work for everyone.
— Dr. Safire DeJong and Dr. Barbara Love, 2015
CES specialists have supported thousands of educators and numerous school districts and organizations across Massachusetts and beyond. For example, a recent project for a school district in Hampshire County included:
- An equity-focused workshop for the School Committee
- Listening sessions with community members, educators, students, and leaders that supported the district to hear from the school community as guides for their work
- Working with all educators and district leadership on using storytelling as a tool to build trust, connection, and relational skills for equity work
- Learning about the history of racism so that we can better understand the impacts of implicit bias and microaggressions
- Working with the elementary and middle schools to center student voices and build educator capacity to foster healthy identity development and spaces of student belonging
- Building an equity team that included students, family, school committee members, educators, and administrators where we engaged in the hard work of developing a shared vision of equity in order to design a sustainable pathway for change together
- Providing coaching and technical assistance to district leaders as needed
Addressing inequities in schools requires that adults and young people work together to explore, assess, and transform school culture. This kind of equity work supports each participant to learn and reflect on their own role in maintaining the current school culture; considers academic and policy issues that contribute to inequity; examines the issues that contribute to a sense of belonging and exclusion in the school; and fosters the skills and commitment needed to build joyful, relational, inclusive, and academically rigorous learning spaces. CES provides a highly skilled and racially diverse co-facilitation team to walk your equity team through this important, complex, and intersectional work.
Student-Centered Work-Intergroup Dialogues
This program seeks to integrate social justice and equity focused philosophy and practice into district schools and classrooms through the research-based practice of Intergroup Dialogue.
Intergroup Dialogues are a series of small group, co-facilitated, carefully structured experiences that encourage relational dialogue rather than debate while exploring social group identity, conflict, community, and equity.
Coaching / Ongoing PD with Leadership Teams
We believe that equity work can emerge from any part of an organization. That being said, we see great value in providing leadership bodies with support to ensure that equity work is more than a year-long initiative that stops before any deep change takes root.
Coaching and professional development with Leadership teams integrate a variety of practices customized to meet the needs and contexts of each team and community.
Customized Professional Development
We offer a range of tailored professional development, team and individualized coaching, and technical assistance related to equity, teaching, and district and building leadership. These are designed for educators seeking to enhance their knowledge, perspective, and skills, and we can bring those development experiences on site to your location or offer them virtually. We recommend beginning district-wide or school-wide equity work with building a relational foundation and then exploring historical legacies of oppression that are impacting our schools today. This work then builds into experiences, practices, and sustained equitable changes specific to your community.
Mentorship and Coaching for Equity & Social Justice
Including technical assistance for implementing clear curricula and pedagogical practices that affirm identity and belonging in schools. This coaching and support is available to individual and small groups of school leaders and/or educators.
Equity and Inclusion Assessments
Over the years, we have found that adults and young people have very different experiences of school climate and experiences. Unfortunately, the ways that members of a school community experience academics, policies, hallway interactions, getting to and from school, lunch, sports and other extra-curriculars, and more has a lot to do with identity. We have had a great deal of success with a listening-based and relational process for learning more about school culture. These sessions support all members of the school community to share their experiences and provide the opportunity for leaders to tend to concerns and challenges that get in the way of student belonging, emotional well-being, and academic excellence.
I can’t thank you enough. Your process, energy, and tone were just the right match for the situation at hand. You made it wonderfully safe for everyone to share and be solution-seeking.
— School District Superintendent
Suggested Resources for Social Justice in Education
We work to focus on challenges/tough problems that are important to teachers. We strive to bring you transformational, research-based practices and perspectives and up-to-date information, continually adding to these useful resource links.
Click on the categories to the right to view the linked resources in each category.
Social Justice Education Resources
- Abolitionist Teaching Network: This website provides articles, podcasts, webinars, conference events, and other resources on racial justice and abolitionist education in K-12 schools. The organization’s mission “is to develop and support those in the struggle for educational liberation by utilizing the intellectual work and direct action of Abolitionists in many forms.”
- 228 Accelerator (free resource library): This website provides frameworks, courses, and resources for transformative and equitable design in schools. Their free resources include podcasts, videos, articles, and resource links on the topics of racial hierarchy, gender hierarchy, class hierarchy, christian hegemony, and heteronormativity.
- Alliance for Resource Equity: This website provides outlines, resources, and toolkits for 10 dimensions of educational equity: school funding, teaching quality & diversity, school leadership quality & diversity, empowering, rigorous content, instructional time & attention, positive & inviting school climate, student supports & intervention, high-quality early learning, learning-ready facilities, and diverse classrooms & schools.
- AMAZE: This website provides videos, toolkits, lesson plans, and other resources for educators and caregivers to support affirming and inclusive learning and conversations about gender, sexuality, and sex education with young people.
- Black Lives Matter at Schools: This website provides guiding principles, curricular materials, and other resources to support teaching of truthful histories, racial justice, and Black liberation in schools.
- Common Beliefs about Teaching and Learning and Questions to Consider: 13 Common beliefs about students and teaching that get in the way of equitable learning environments for students with background analysis and questions to consider (from Teaching Tolerance/Learning for Justice)
- Cult of Pedagogy: This website provides blog posts, podcasts, and videos for PK-12 educators and leaders on the topics of instruction, classroom management, technology, and equity. These resources include deep exploration into pedagogical theory, PD, practices, hot topics, collaboration, and story-sharing.
- Engaging Schools: This website provides publications, blogs, programs, and other resources for educators on equity-centered classrooms.
- Essential Partners: This website provides resources and workshops on strengthening relationships and belonging in communities through dialogue practices. Essential Partners supports schools, organizations, and communities to engage in dialogue across difference and build lasting supportive networks across various values, identities, and perspectives.
- Facing History and Ourselves: This website provides social justice PD, materials, and lesson plans through historical resources for the middle and high school levels. The mission of the organization is to use “lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.”
- GLSEN: This website provides current research, articles, LGBTQ-inclusive curricula, program and event opportunities, and other resources to support and affirm LGBTQ youth in K-12 schools.
- KQED Mindshift: This website provides podcasts and articles on education through the perspectives of educators, caregivers, and students. Their pieces explore topics such as “the role of technology, discoveries about the brain, racial and gender bias in education, social and emotional learning, inequities, mental health and many other issues that affect students,” sharing knowledge and resources on pedagogies and curricula.
- Learning for Justice: This website provides a vast array of resources for social justice at the PK-12 level, including social justice learning standards, articles, podcasts, lesson plans, leadership resources, self-guided and webinar PD, and more!
- Nellie Mae Education Foundation: This website provides blogs, events, and grant funding opportunities for advancing racial equity in public education.
- Pa’lante Transformative Justice: This website provides examples of and resources on restorative and transformative justice practices with youth. Pa’lante shares videos and training on their own framing and projects in Holyoke Massachusetts.
- Shane Safir – Resources (Street Data & The Listening Leader): This website provides worksheets and protocols for school leaders and educators to apply deep listening, reflective, and relational qualitative research practices in their school communities. These resources are based on the frameworks, pedagogies, and practices outlined in Shane Safir’s (2017) The Listening Leader and Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan’s (2021) Street Data: A Next Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation.
- Truth for Teachers: This website provides articles, podcasts, and courses for K-12 educators and leaders, exploring topics of educational equity, pedagogy, curricula, and educator well-being.
- Teacher Collaborative: This website provides teacher created podcasts, blogs, and opportunities for co-learning and education between Massachusetts educators. The Teacher Collaborative supports educators to connect, learn, innovate, and lead in reimagining and transforming education for more equitable and thriving student communities.
- UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute: This website provides videos, articles, and resources on the latest research, policy, and ideas around the topics of othering and belonging. These resources cover a wide range of topics connected to inequity, power, and justice within society.
- UC Berkeley YPAR Hub: This website is a hub of resources on Youth Participatory Action Research. It provides examples of youth research and action for social change, as well as tools to begin youth-centered research and action projects within one’s own school or youth organization.
DESE Equity Resources
- Culturally Responsive Teaching & Leading: This webpage shares information on how to define and apply culturally responsive practices at both educator and leadership levels. This includes videos, rubrics, facilitation guides, school district profiles, and other resources.
- Culturally Responsive Classroom Look-Fors: Observable teacher and student actions aligned to seven (7) focus elements from the Model Classroom Teacher Rubric DESE sees as most relevant to culturally responsive practice.
- LEA Equity Activity Guide: Online learning tool includes activities with video and other resources for district and school staff to deepen their understanding of bias and implement measures to counteract it. The guide also provides resources to increase staff cultural competency, both in the classroom and system-wide, in order to positively affect outcomes and ensure equity for all students.
- MA Equity Strategies: This webpage provides numerous links to resources, guidelines, models, and programs related to equity work in Massachusetts public schools.
- M.A.S.S. REDI Strategy: This document shares the M.A.S.S. Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (M.A.S.S. REDI) which “is an organization-wide, long-term strategy of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.) designed to ensure that every school in Massachusetts learns to model the anti-racist, inclusive practice required for every adult and student to learn and thrive.”
- Safe Schools: This website shares information about the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ students, which provides training and technical assistance relating to bullying, understanding sexual orientation and gender identity, and improving school climate.
- Social Emotional Learning: This website is an introduction to Social and Emotional Learning in Massachusetts Public Schools. DESE commonly uses the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL’s), definition of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): SEL is the process of developing students’ and adults’ social and emotional competencies-the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that individuals need to make successful choices.
Joy and Justice Team
Safire DeJong Ed.D.
Safire is a mama, auntie, daughter, practitioner, and scholar. She is co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice and holds a Doctorate of Education in Social Justice Education from UMass Amherst. Her research focuses on young people’s experiences with status and power in schools and communities. At CES, Safire works with a team of talented and experienced co-facilitators (the Joy & Justice team!) to provide equity-focused consulting and professional development for PK-12 schools. She has 20 years of experience facilitating social justice work, intergroup dialogues, and training skilled facilitators. These experiences have enabled her to develop a broad set of tools and skills that can support groups to find the most generative possibilities for liberatory futures, together.
Position: Program Director, Social Justice and Equity in Schools
Phone: 413.586.4900 x5929
Mariah Lapiroff M.A.T., Ed.S.
Mariah is from Berkeley, CA, and grew up in a Chinese and Jewish family with teachers for parents. She continually feels deeply influenced by and connected to her home, cultures, and community. Mariah is a social justice facilitator committed to culturally sustaining, equitable, and transformational practices. She has experience working as a high school teacher, as well as an educator at elementary and university levels. She holds an M.A.T. in Latin & Classical Humanities and an Ed.S. in Social Justice Education from UMass Amherst. She facilitates sessions on the topics of social identities, self-awareness, oppression and liberation, intergroup dialogue, and relational education approaches that foster student agency and belonging in joyful caring school communities. Mariah firmly believes that social justice work in schools must happen through intergenerational partnerships that center the voices, experiences and dreams of young people at the margins.
Position: Social Justice and Equity Specialist
Sabine Denise Jacques M.Ed.
Sabine Denise Jacques is a First Generation Haitian-American social justice facilitator, theater practitioner, actor, and Fulbright Scholar. She holds a BA in African-American Studies, a Multicultural Theater certificate, and her Masters in International Education with a certificate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In her role as a SJE consultant, Sabine facilitates experiences where school community members, students, and building leaders learn to have brave and generative dialogue about oppression in a way that leads to more connection. Sabine is passionate about arts activism within Black & Brown communities, believes in the power of storytelling and its ability to provide space for vulnerability, healing, & joy.
Position: Social Justice and Equity Specialist
Tom Chang M.Ed.
Tom has been advocating for students, families, and their schools for over twenty years. Social justice work has been a source of joy for Tom, especially during his fifteen years as an elementary school teacher and math specialist. He has served as a community activist, organizer, and teacher educator. He is a board member and trainer at the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership. Tom loves supporting the work of leaders, educators, and students who are transforming pedagogy, policy, and culture with the goal of creating schools where all children thrive and feel a deep sense of belonging.
Position: Social Justice and Equity Specialist