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September 3, 1997
TO: Work Group on Equity in the Lexington Public Schools
FROM: Ed Jennings
The issue that you are preparing to address is a very hot one in the Lexington public school system right now. Black parents have protested over a school board decision to drop equity as an explicit goal of the system, the poor average performance of minority and low-income students, the designation of a disproportionate number of minority children as disabled, and the perceived failure of the schools to achieve desegregation in an equitable manner. Because this issue is so emotional, you will need to take special care in gathering information.
Consider yourselves to be a consulting group to the Board of Education as you examine this issue. Your goal should be a report to the Board on how to deal with equity concerns.
You should begin by gathering general background information about the decisions and situations that have given rise to equity concerns. You should develop a strong factual base to clarify the realities of the situation. You then need to identify the interests and values that are at stake and determine the perspectives of different actors. Do they define equity in the same way? Do they agree on the factual base? Do they interpret the facts in similar or different ways?
You want to determine what creates an equity issue. Once you determine its dimensions, you can think about and analyze potential solutions.
You will need to decide whether you want to study equity issues generally in the schools or focus on a specific
Some obvious sources of information include news stories in the Lexington Herald-Leader, official reports and documents, and interviews with administrators, interest group leaders, and concerned citizens.
Finally, keep in mind that equity in the schools is related to broader issues of race, class, economics, social relations, and land use in the community.