New Mexico’s public education system is in the process of being transformed, and that requires out-of-the-box thinking. The equity councils proposed by the New Mexico Public Education Department are a starting point for re-imagining what a successful education looks like, who it is shaped by, and how it supports the very people it has failed: low-income families and historically, systematically excluded families – indigenous, Spanish speaking, ESL and differently-abled students.
But before detailing how communities can directly influence the reshaping of our education, it is important to clarify how equity should be defined and why it is such an important aspect in truly building a stronger public education system in New Mexico.
In our own words, equity is about leveling the playing field on who gets to be part of the decision-making process in creating a system that will ensure the success of our communities in the short and long term. It is an opportunity to move away from thinking quantitative data drives success when it really begins with the qualitative surveying of this at the forefront of the failing education system.
It is not surprising there is opposition to the idea of creating equity councils. Opposition is a symptom of a colonized system in which certain voices are to be excluded for the purpose of maintaining the status quo. But we can no longer stand by idly as youth do not feel safe or welcomed for expressing their identities, experiencing inequalities where only some get all the resources needed to succeed while others do not, or where history is shaped without regard for the diverse communities that make up our vibrant culture and continue to be erased.