• Equity Terminology

    CRITICAL RACE THEORY

    A theory that challenges us to look at the way race and racism impact structures and practices in schools that cause or perpetuate inequality.

    CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING ɸ

    An instructional approach that uses students' culture to accelerate learning. It integrates the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and the varied learning styles of students to make learning more appropriate and effective.

    CULTURE

    The beliefs, practices and norms of a group of people.

    DISCRIMINATION

    Unequal treatment of a person based on their membership in a group. In contrast to prejudice, discrimination is a behavior.

    DOMINANT CULTURE

    Common beliefs, values, and behaviors of privileged groups (white, male, heterosexual, cisgender, wealthy, etc.) that usually go unnamed and are considered the "norm" against which others are measured.

    EDUCATIONAL EQUITY

    Educational equity means that each child receives what they need to develop their full academic and social potential (National Equity Project). Equity in the Mercer Island School District schools, classrooms, and services provided to students rejects the premise that "advantaged" students must receive less in order for "disadvantaged" student to recieve more. Educational equity and educational excellence do not need to be in opposition. The schools and district will be at their best when each individual is at their best because of equitable and accessible opportunities for all. (Blankstein & Noguera).

    EQUALITY

    Equality says we treat everyone the same and give them the exact same resources or support, regardless of individual needs or group history.

    EQUITY

    Equity is a commitment to ensure that every student receives what they need to succeed. 

    ETHNICITY

    A social construction that indicates identification with a particular group that is often descended from common ancestors. Members of the group share common cultural traits, such as language, religion and dress.

    INSTITUTIONAL RACISM

    The network of institutional structures, policies, and practices that create advantages and benefits for whites, and discrimination, oppression, and disadvantages for people from targeted racial groups.

    NATIONALITY

    One's country of origin or citizenship.

    PEOPLE OF COLOR (POC)

    A term born out of the antiracism movement used to describe nonwhites that is meant to be inclusive among nonwhite groups.

    PRIVILEGE

    Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot "opt out" of systems of privilege; these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.

    RACE

    Races are socially and politically constructed categories that others have assigned on the basis of physical characteristics, such as skin color or hair type. 

    RACIAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY

    Racial/ethnic identity development is how our self-perception is shaped by our experiences in society regarding our group affiliation (i.e. race, gender).

    RACISM

    Institutional power and prejudice which benefits the dominant group and hurts other racial groups. It can be conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional.

    STEREOTYPE

    An overgeneralization based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability, age, and other characteristics that is widely believed about an entire group of people. Stereotypes are impervious to evidence and contrary argument.

    WHITE PRIVILEGE

    A system of unearned benefits afforded to those people classified as white. These advantages are personal, cultural, and institutional and provide greater access to resources and systemic power. 


    All definitions, except where noted, adapted from: The People's Institute NW, http://pinwseattle.org. Copyright 2014 White Privilege Conference, www.whiteprivilegeconference.com. Wijesinghe, C.L., Griffin, P., and Love, B. (1997). "Racism Curriculum Design". In M. Adams, L. A. Bell, and P. Griffin (eds.), Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook (pp. 82-109). New York: Routledge.

    ɸ definition adapted from: Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond