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Equity & SEL

Bustamante, A. (2016). Program narrative: District overview [section from Oakland Unified School District Teacher Incentive Fund application]. Oakland, CA: Oakland Unified School District. Available for members at this link.

This excerpt from a 2016 Teacher Incentive Fund grant proposal underscores the deep connection between Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD’s) commitment to addressing the causes and manifestations of institutional racism and inequality and the district’s approach to infusing social and emotional learning (SEL) deeply into its culture, professional development, and instructional practice. Noting that students are more likely to exhibit off-task behavior and lower performance when teachers have limited SEL competencies, the proposal centers on a model in which SEL is integrated into the daily lives of teachers and school leadership through evidence-based curricula and collaborative professional inquiry.

Oakland Unified School District. (2016). [Oakland Unified School District Board of Education board policy 5032]. Oakland, CA: Oakland Unified School District. Available at 0B9D4ElSj_ue8WWk1TDNFNU9MbG8/view

This formal policy of the OUSD Governing Board states that “eliminating individual and institutional bias (e.g. race based, identity bias, economic) will increase achievement and graduation rates for all students, while narrowing the academic and opportunity gaps between the highest and lowest performing students.”  The purpose of the policy is to identify and target areas for action, intervention, and investment.  Among the specific approaches identified are the following: district-wide emphasis on SEL, hearing and listening to student voices through restorative justice practices, professional learning that includes a focus on implicit bias and beliefs, staff recruitment and induction processes, and culturally responsive teaching pedagogy. 

**Jagers, R. J. (2016). Framing social and emotional learning among African-American youth: Toward an integrity-based approach. Human Development, 59(1), 1–3. Available at 000447005

This provocative essay by a University of Michigan professor discusses whether and in what ways SEL can be leveraged to advance the personal and collective well-being of disenfranchised student groups. At the heart of the argument is a framework that distinguishes three general approaches to SEL: 1) programs that primarily target students’ problem behaviors but pay little to no attention to the broader societal conditions that place youth at elevated risk for such behaviors; 2) competence and resilience promotion programs that reflect a shift toward creating contexts that foster youth assets and address developmental needs but lack explicit attention to racial and class inequities in school or the broader society, and 3) approaches that encourage students’ critical social analysis, collective efficacy, and collective action, thus positioning young people as “experts in understanding and fashioning a world that is more just and equitable.” 

**Chatmon, C., & Gray, R. (2015). Lifting up our kings: Developing black males in a positive and safe space. Voices in Urban Education (VUE), 42, 50–56. Available at EJ1082780.pdf

This VUE article reprises a 2015 interview between Richard Gray, Director of Community Organizing and Engagement at the Annenberg institute for School Reform, and Chris Chatmon, currently Deputy Chief in OUSD’s Office of Equity. The interview focuses on the importance of building positive adult-to-student and student-to-student relationships for changing the narrative around African American and other marginalized youth—and thus for changing their experiences in school, their individual and collective identities, and their educational outcomes.  Applying the theory of targeted universalism, Chatmon—who built the Office of African-American Male Achievement in OUSD—argues that if educators are able to change the system to support those who have been farthest from opportunity, the result will be a district that can improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for all its students. 

**This document is considered a priority reading.