Learning Forward puts equity front and center

By Frederick Brown and Paul Fleming
Categories: Equity, Standards for Professional Learning, System leadership
December 2020
Vol. 41, No. 6
In the October 2018 issue of The Learning Professional, Courageous Conversation founder Glenn Singleton reminded us not to engage in “random acts of equity.” Consistent with that message, Learning Forward aspires to develop a comprehensive approach to equity. In recent months, Learning Forward has developed an equity position statement to guide that approach and our specific work within it. At the heart of the position statement is our definition of equity: Equity is the outcome of educator practices that respect and nurture all aspects of student identity rather than treat them as barriers to learning. But a stand-alone definition of equity is insufficient to advocate for and make change. We recognized that we needed a stronger, bolder statement that articulates how professional learning is a

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Equity position statement

Learning Forward believes schools achieve their utmost potential when:

  • Each student experiences relevant, culturally responsive, rigorous learning and benefits from the collective guidance and care of exceptional teachers and leaders;
  • Each educator has access to high-quality professional learning to cultivate the strengths and address the needs of each student; and
  • Each leader advocates for and builds an education system that dismantles institutional racism and removes other barriers to students’ equitable access to learning.

This vision for equity in schools requires transformation at every level of the education system.

Learning Forward defines equity as the outcome of educator practices that respect and nurture all aspects of student identity rather than treat them as barriers to learning. Professional learning is a critical lever to achieve equity.

Educators experience and drive change when they address their own biases and reflect on how their beliefs impact students. They build equitable schools when they increase their capacity to differentiate instruction and assessment to meet students’ needs. They contribute to an equitable system when they denounce injustices and inequitable practices. Educators cultivate equity when they leverage the cultural and linguistic assets that students bring and ensure that each learner engages in rigorous learning. This requires the use of high-quality and culturally responsive curriculum and instructional materials.

Professional learning aligned to the Standards for Professional Learning disrupts and dismantles causal inequities by:

  • Eliminating gaps in access and opportunities by ensuring high-quality teaching, leading, and learning;
  • Equipping educators with knowledge and strategies specifically designed to recognize and eliminate bias in the classroom and in their own instructional practices;
  • Strengthening self-examination practices and collective responsibility of all educators in the system;
  • Providing evidence and data about strategies or designs that support equitable learning;
  • Prioritizing coherent and aligned systems that provide academic rigor, high-quality curriculum and culturally relevant instructional materials, educator quality, and resources to support each student; and
  • Transforming policies at all levels that shape anti-racist learning systems for adults and students alike.

Effective professional learning removes inequities in students’ access to meaningful learning, ensuring a pathway to success for each student. When all educators engage in high-quality professional learning, all students experience equity and excellence in teaching and learning.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Brown-frederick-200x250-1
President | CEO at Learning Forward | + posts

Frederick Brown is Learning Forward’s president | CEO. Fred is an education visionary who knows firsthand that our nation’s schools need transformational change if we are to meet the challenges of the next decades. Fred advocates that every child deserves to reach their highest potential and every educator must have the opportunity to participate in exemplary, ongoing, professional learning programs to provide students the skills needed to meet their unique needs.

Supporting educators at all levels and improving student achievement are through lines of Fred's career. An elementary school teacher, a middle school assistant principal, and school principal, Fred saw firsthand the impact high-leverage instructional practices and school culture have on school success.

Fred is a frequent speaker on leadership and building high-quality learning in schools. He has co-authored two books that have made significant contributions to the field of education, demonstrating how a comprehensive approach to professional learning can be achieved so that everyone in a system is a learner, and how principals apply a learning lens to their many critical responsibilities to create a productive climate for learning and collaboration. "Becoming a Learning System" and "The Learning Principal -- Becoming a Learning Leader"  are time-tested Learning Forward resources for schools and leaders.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Paul-fleming-250x300-1
+ posts

Paul Fleming serves as chief learning officer at Learning Forward. His current areas of focus include leading the effective implementation of the revised Standards for Professional Learning and corresponding tools, the expansion of our professional services and leadership and learning series teams, and multiple consulting projects with states and districts to increase educator and leader effectiveness through equity-focused, high quality professional learning.

Categories: Equity, Standards for Professional Learning, System leadership

The Learning Professional

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