Back to School in the Era of COVID-19: Uncertainties, Complexities, and Emerging Plans

Complexity, Community, & Equity Strategies

The readings in this section highlight the complexity of the racial inequities in policies and practices around health care, criminal justice, and schooling. These two articles discuss integrative ways of working together to accelerate progress toward equity in schools and communities.

**McAfee, M., Blackwell, A. G., & Bell, J. (2015). Equity: The soul of collective impact. Available at PolicyLink website:

This article argues that equity must be the grounding framework for any collective impact effort. The United States was founded upon and still relies on systemic racism. In fact, race is deeply tied to generational poverty and lack of opportunity. The authors suggest that any collective impact effort will be more successful if it acknowledges and works specifically to undo the impacts of white supremacy. To integrate an equity lens, the article advocates for collective impact efforts to analyze racial barriers in order to fully address them, invite and center voices and leadership of members of the affected community in order to better understand their perspectives, and disaggregate data to see the full range and extent of the impact on groups. Further, the authors argue that these efforts require all participants have ambition and commitment to see the project through as well as a willingness to be accountable to those whose lives are directly affected. The authors also suggest that programmatic efforts are not enough—leaders must advocate for policy change for more widespread impact.

Srinivasan, L., & Archer, J. (2018). From fragmentation to coherence: How more integrative ways of working could accelerate improvement and progress toward equity in education. Available at Carnegie Corporation of New York website:

This report explains how educational reformers often create conflicts for educators, students, and families by moving ahead with solutions before fully understanding the nature of the problem to be solved, or the context in which it takes place. Despite good intentions, silver bullet initiatives operating in silos sometimes clash with each other and create a fragmented system that denies students the full benefit of an equitable and excellent education, which is especially tragic for students who are the most at-risk. Improving such a system requires that we discern the interdependencies within it, understand how people learn, and allow for repeated adjustments based on data, evidence, and experience. The authors call for a learning agenda on how to build the capacities of organizations to work in ways that produce greater integration of effort and less fragmentation.

**This document is considered a priority reading.


April 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic creates unprecedented conditions for K-12 teaching and learning, and education leaders everywhere are working quickly to make the best policy decisions possible. Knowing that the current context is dramatically different than... Read more »