Skip to main content
Race Equity Work Aint for the Faint of Heart--5 Tips to Support School Leaders in the Trenches
July 2, 2023 at 4:00 AM
bipoc mental health illustration.png

Race equity work in K-8 schools is essential to ensure that all students feel valued, respected, and supported. However, this work can be challenging, requiring a strong commitment from school leaders, educators, and the broader community. We will explore the lessons that principals have learned in doing race equity work in their K-8 schools, along with references, resources, books, and tips.

1. Understand and Address Systemic Racism

The first step in doing race equity work is acknowledging that systemic racism exists in our society, and it affects our schools. School leaders need to create brave spaces for conversations about race and racism, recognize the impact of implicit bias and microaggressions, and work to address disparities in academic achievement, discipline, and representation in leadership positions.

2. Foster an Inclusive School Culture

Fostering an inclusive school culture involves intentional efforts to recruit and retain staff and students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and languages. School leaders need to celebrate and promote diversity, provide opportunities for students to learn about different cultures, and support staff in addressing issues of equity and inclusion.

3. Develop an Equity Plan and Monitor Progress

School leaders need to develop and implement a comprehensive equity plan that includes goals, strategies, and actions to address disparities and improve outcomes for all students. The plan should be data-driven, inclusive, and transparent, involving input from students, families, staff, and community partners. It is also important to regularly monitor progress and adjust strategies as needed.

4. Provide Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities

Equity work requires ongoing learning and professional development for educators and staff. School leaders need to provide training on implicit bias, cultural responsiveness, restorative practices, and anti-racist pedagogy. They also need to create opportunities for staff to reflect on their practice, collaborate with peers, and engage in self-care.

5. Engage Families and Community Partners

Families and community partners are essential partners in equity work. School leaders need to involve them in decision-making, communicate regularly about equity initiatives, and provide opportunities for them to share their perspectives and experiences. They also need to build partnerships with community organizations that support equity and social justice.

References, Resources, and Books:

1. The National Equity Project:

2. Learning for Justice:

3. Culturally Responsive School Leadership:

4. Equity Literacy Institute:

5. Anti-Racist School Leadership:


1. "We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom" by Bettina L. Love

2. "Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools" by Glenn E. Singleton and Curtis Linton

3. "The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys" by Eddie Moore Jr., Ali Michael, and Marguerite W. Penick-Parks

4. "This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education" by Jose Vilson

5. “Leading Equity: Being an Advocate for All Students” by Dr. Sheldon Eakins


1. Leading Equity by Dr. Sheldon Eakins

2. Lifelong Learning Defined by Jorge Valenzula

3. miseducAsian Podcast by Tommy, Albert, and Brian

4. Don’t Call Me Resilient by Vinita Srivastava

5. Code Switch by NPR Journalists of Color

Tips for School Leaders:

1. Commit to your own learning and reflection on race and racism.

2. Involve a diverse group of stakeholders in equity planning and implementation.

3. Communicate regularly and transparently about equity initiatives and progress.

4. Celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of school life.

5. Be willing to have difficult conversations and address resistance or pushback.

In conclusion, doing race equity work in K-8 schools is major heart work. It’s marathon work that requires leaders to have a crystal-clear vision, committed following, sustainable resources, and grit. When done right, your students, staff, families, and community win, majorly! Good Luck!