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Schools Transforming draws on the work of Reimagining Integration: Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES), which was a project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education* from 2015 to 2021. Supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, RIDES sought to increase the number and quality of intentionally diverse schools through the development of a set of diagnostic surveys, action-oriented resources, and equity improvement cycle tools that will remain available through June 2022 on the HGSE website and available for use under Creative Commons license.
The suite of tools and approaches developed by students, faculty, and coaches over five and a half years at HGSE has been field-tested in more than 50 schools and districts-- public, private, magnet, district, charter—across the country. As an independent nonprofit, Schools Transforming also draws on other equity frameworks and approaches and has the flexibility to serve schools and school districts in a variety of ways-- offering free and low-cost programming, fundraising from foundations, partnering with other like-minded organizations, and offering short and long-term fee-for-service consultation, networking, and support for schools and districts.
The back story
The roots of the RIDES work on which Schools Transforming draws began in 2015, in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer in Ferguson Missouri. RIDES Founding Director Lee Teitel began to offer courses in which HGSE grad students partnered with local schools and districts to learn together about the real-world challenges and opportunities in promoting diverse, equitable, and integrated schools. These partnerships-- designed and implemented with Dr. Darnisa Amanted-Jackson and Jennifer Kilson Page-- led to the early development of a set of tools for schools to use. The collaboration with Dr Mary Anton (then a Boston area principal) led to specific examples of how those could combine with other antiracist practices to change the experience of students, even very young children. Nurtured by dozens of faculty and graduate students and with generous support from HGSE’s Dean’s office, RIDES began to develop and field test a set of diagnostic surveys, action-oriented resources, and equity improvement cycle tools. Initially operating locally and relatively small-scale, RIDES became national with significant infusion of funding from the Walton Family Foundation in 2017. It hosted regional and national conferences to share best practices, provided learning opportunities, field experiences and practical applications for RIDES Fellows-- Masters and doctoral students committed to preparing to take on roles related to equity and integration. In collaboration with Panorama Education, RIDES developed survey instruments that are now in use across the country to assess progress schools are making in helping students understand and work to dismantle racism, and to appreciate diversity of their classmates. RIDES has offered a practical webinar series that brought together researchers and practitioners, and provided curated articles and books on its website to support systemic work on equity and integration. Through Harvard’s Programs in Professional Education, RIDES offered the RIDES Institute, a nine month program that mixed several days of on-campus learning with monthly webinar and coaching support, provided by Amante-Jackson, Antón, Bailey, Kilson-Page, McGee, Stumbo, and Teitel.
Bringing it up to date: 2020-2021 When the pandemic hit, RIDES pivoted to offer free intensive virtual Clinics to engage schools and districts with key core approaches to the RIDES Equity Improvement Cycle. Those clinics were very popular, with three to four times the number of applicants as there have been seats. In the last year of the Walton grant (2020-21), RIDES used the remaining funding to offer more Clinics, and to bring participants back for virtual Reunions, where they could reconnect, recommit, and share the work they had done since the Clinic. By June 30, 2021 when RIDES concluded as a project based at HGSE, the Clinics served over 300 educators, parents, and students coming from more than 20 schools and 15 district teams.
As part of HGSE’s commitment to continue the development and application of tools and resources designed to impact this most important area of education, many of RIDES resources are broadly available via Creative Commons license. In addition to being accessible on the RIDES website through June 2022, they will be maintained and updated at SchoolsTransforming.org.
As a non-profit, SchoolsTransforming looks forward to continuing to partner with schools, districts, charter management organizations and other organizations committed to helping schools become places where all children learn at high levels, feel included, appreciate their own and other cultures, understand racism, and work to dismantle it.
* As a matter of policy and practice, neither Harvard University nor the Harvard Graduate School of Education endorse non-profits or projects that are not affiliated with them, and no such endorsement is suggested or implied in any of the Schools Transforming materials.