Equity Challenge: Week 18
This is week 18 of our Challenge, and we are continuing to explore structural racism by examining how race impacts experience and opportunity in our education system.
The education system in the United States, which encompasses pre-school and early education, elementary, middle and high school, as well as college and university study, is vast and complex. Historically, local public education systems are funded through the local tax base and property taxes. Policies have created an uneven system of public education funding; as a result, schools in communities of color have been and continue to be overcrowded, under-funded, and less resourced.

Economically and racially divided neighborhoods are leading to inequitable educational environments and adverse academic outcomes for youth. Children from families with low incomes enter high school with literacy skills 5 years behind and are over 4 times more likely to drop out than those from high-income families. Students of color, who are more likely to attend under-resourced schools than their white counterparts, often experience large class sizes and a lack of adequate education resources. Communities of color experience more limited access to high quality early education and disparities in higher education, and data from around the country show racially discriminatory disciplining practices that feed the school to prison pipeline.
Today’s challenge provides data, as well as historical and personal accounts and experiences to explore how race and racism impact access to quality education and opportunity.
Week 18: Education
Here are some questions to think about:

  • Did you learn something new or surprising? Were there views that differed from your own experience with the education system? How did that make you feel?

  • Do you think experiences with the education system shared in this challenge are systemic issues or personal/isolated experiences? How do the data and studies included here inform your views on that?

  • Are there lessons, information or ideas from previous weeks that impact your understanding of today’s resources?

  • Are there ideas or recommendations in any of today’s resources that help you better understand your own community? What can you do to learn more about the education system in your community and how others feel and experience it?

Week 18 Challenge
With the questions and definitions above in mind, do at least one of the following:
Miseducation: Wisconsin
ProPublica has found that in states across the country, Black and Hispanic students are, on average, less likely to be selected for gifted programs and take AP courses than their white peers. They are also more likely, on average, to be suspended and expelled. Explore the Wisconsin statewide data and district-level information from your community.
4 Ways Racial Inequity Harms American Schoolchildren (3-minute read)
This article highlights four things to know about how racial inequity affects the nation's school children.
Native American Students Left Behind by S.D. Education System (14-minute read)
This special report examines the historical and current educational achievement gap between Native American and white students in South Dakota.
How America's Public Schools Keep Kids in Poverty (9:40)
Kandice Sumner sees the disparity every day in her classroom in Boston. She shares how schools in low-income neighborhoods across the U.S., specifically in communities of color, lack resources that are standard at wealthier schools -- things like musical instruments, new books, healthy school lunches and soccer fields -- and this has a real impact on the potential of students. In this inspiring talk, she asks listeners to face facts and change them. (Subtítulos en español disponibles.)
Help for Kids the Education System Ignores (11:53)
Define students by what they contribute, not what they lack -- especially those with difficult upbringings, says educator Victor Rios. Interweaved with his personal tale of perseverance as an inner-city youth, Rios identifies three straightforward strategies to shift attitudes in education and calls for fellow educators to see "at-risk" students as "at-promise" individuals brimming with resilience, character and grit.
Why Race Matters: The School-To-Prison Pipeline (24:53)
Wisconsin has one of the widest achievement gaps in the country. In this episode, Angela Fitzgerald talks to Rudy Bankston, a survivor of the school-to-prison pipeline. Rudy shares his story of being wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison at the age of 19. They’ll also discuss intersecting themes of identity, as well as how education gaps and strict disciplinary policies in schools can lead to the suspension, expulsion and incarceration of Black students.
Code Switch: A Tale of Two School Districts (30:03)
In many parts of the U.S., public school districts are just minutes apart, but have vastly different racial demographics — and receive vastly different funding. That's in part due to Milliken v. Bradley, a 1974 Supreme Court case that limited a powerful tool for school integration.

Share your reflections or additional resources about today’s topic on social media using #EquityChallenge - or send us a note at unitedway@unitedwayracine.org
Learn more about the Challenge and review weekly topics by visiting
Local Resources
A weekly book discussion group reading books on race and racism.

A yearlong, faith-based series of interactive and multidimensional public events. The series goal is to increase our understanding of how we think and feel about racism, resulting in actions that can help to transform us as individuals and the systems of racism in our country. 

The YWCA of SEW Wisconsin offers a variety of trainings about different facets of equity, such as structural racism, cultural differences, social transformation and more.

Higher Expectations engages community partners, aligns efforts, and maximizes resources to promote excellence and equity in education and employment outcomes in Racine County.
Hear from Deanna Singh, Founder/Chief Change Agent of Flying Elephant and her husband Justin on how to talk to your children about race to help children develop a healthy understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Health Equity Leadership Institute Virtual Series

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a virtual health equity series. Register here.
Sessions will take place between May and August. For more information, visit the website.

Virtual Panelist Q&A via Zoom with Barb Farrar, Executive Director at The LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin and guest panelists.

Wednesday, June 16 at 6 p.m.

Make your commitment to inclusion—the active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity—official by signing our Declaration of Inclusion Pledge. This pledge is to respect and appreciate all aspects of any person, including race, religion, skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, physical abilities, age, parental status, work and behavioral styles, and the perspectives of each individual as shaped by their nation, culture and experiences. You will also receive our quarterly diversity newsletter to build your "equity muscle."