We hold these truths to be self-evident, that are men are created equal. These words from the preamble of the Declaration of Independence have been stuck in my mind lately. As a little girl, I had thoughts about the year 2020 would be. I envisioned a world much like the cartoon The Jetsons, full of technological advancements and flying cars. I also envisioned a world where “little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls,” as described in the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently described in his famous speech. I remember sitting in class reading that and imagining this world he audaciously dared us to dream about. A world deeper than just being created equal, a world where we could be treated equitably.
While equality is well and good, equity is providing each person with what they need to be successful, with freedom from bias or favoritism. The murders we have watched play out across our televisions and social media this year have shown us that we are living in a world that is far from equal and certainly not equitable. While it was encouraging to see the consciousness of America awaken over the summer, consciousness and awareness alone will not be enough in and of themselves to make real sustainable changes that will allow us to make the preamble true or Dr. King’s dreams become reality. First, we have to dedicate ourselves to making changes within our sphere of influence.
When committing to creating equity, we should take the following steps:
While we may never have a reality that looks like that of the Jetsons, it is beyond time to create a world that truly treats all people as equal, one where Jews and Gentiles, Native Americans, and Black boys and girls can stand together singing “free at last,” one where my son is more likely to go to college than to jail, and one where a routine stop by a police officer does not end in death for Black people. Through evaluation, planning, and coming together, we can create just and equitable schools, communities, cities, states, and a nation.
Kelisa Wing has been in education for 14 years. Her journey into the teaching profession began after she was honorably discharged from the United States Army. She served as a Youth Consultant for the Self-Expression Teen Theater (SETT) under the United Way in Toledo, Ohio. After moving to Germany with her family, she began substitute teaching, then transitioned to a Special Education paraprofessional, was a school secretary, and eventually, an Administrative Officer. She then taught 8th-grade Language Arts and Reading to military-connected students at Faith Middle School in Fort Benning, Georgia, has been an Elementary School Assistant Principal in West Point, New York, and is now a Professional Development Specialist in Virginia. Kelisa honorably served in the U.S. Army for six years and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. She is the author of ‘Conversations’ (2006), ‘Weeds & Seeds: How To Stay Positive in the Midst of Life’s Storms’ (2017), ‘Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline’ (2018), ‘If I Could: Lessons for Navigating an Unjust World’, and a contributing author of ‘Becoming a Globally Competent Teacher’ (ASCD, 2019).
She is a 2017 State Teacher of the Year, a 2016 Association of Supervision, Curriculum, and Development (ASCD) Emerging Leader, and the 2017 University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Edward Parnell Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. She is the only educator on the Education Civil Rights Alliance (ECRA) Steering Committee, and a member of the Leading Educator Ambassadors for Equity (LEAE) with the ECRA. As a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), she has led efforts for mentoring teacher leaders through a partnership with 100Kin10, and she is also a member of ASCD. She is also on the Advisory Board for the Learner Variability Project (LVP) & Digital Promise, ASCD’s Global Advisory Council, and the ASCD College Football Playoff Foundation (CFP) Diversifying the Teacher Pipeline Working Group. She speaks both nationally and internationally about discipline reform, equity, student engagement, and many other topics Kelisa holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UMUC, a Master of Arts in Secondary Education, and an Educational Specialist degree with a concentration in Curriculum, Instruction, and Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Kelisa credits her faith in God, and His grace, favor, and mercy as the key to her success. Kelisa lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and children.