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Insights and lessons learned from our work together


Imagining Networks Designed for Educational Equity

When our networks are truly designed for educational equity, what will be different? What will they look like, feel like?

Members of the K-12 Education Networks Community of Practice reflected on these questions during a recent convening. The following lists and examples begin to paint a picture of what would be different in networks designed for educational equity and can offer some considerations for possible shifts networks can make in pursuit of equity.

What might be different about the structure of networks?

Cohort members identified the following as potential structural differences in networks designed for educational equity:

  • They are co-created with those who historically have not had a voice in programs and offerings that impact them.

  • The structure allows the network to be truly dynamic, flexible, and adaptable. No more “we’ve always done it this way” mindset.

  • There is distributed leadership rather than hierarchical leadership.

  • The structure allows for meaningful connection across networks.  

  • Trust is central.

As an example of what co-creation can look like, Benjamin Banneker Association (BBA) centers the perspective of students and community members in the design of their offerings to ensure the content empowers and builds positive math identities for Black students.

Other networks are finding ways to collaborate in pursuit of shared goals. For example, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), NSCM, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) are exploring ways to partner to advance their shared goal of building more diverse pipelines for school principals.

What does communication look like in a network designed for equity?

When equity at the center, cohort participants said communication in a network

  • Is fluid, accessible, and differentiated;

  • Happens multi-directionally;

  • Engages voices from all sides;

  • Happens with not to;

  • Sets a clear vision; and

  • Prioritizes listening.

Black Principals Network (BPN) sets a vision of “a nation where the brilliance, well-being, and success of Black principals are prioritized and nourished.” To advance this vision, BPN prioritizes listening, multi-directional communication, and co-creation with its members. One of BPN’s principles of practice is community, which the network defines as “the gathering of hearts, minds, and resources for the co-creation of knowledge, connection, and healing for the collective.” Listening and multi-directional communication led to the creation of The Leadership Collaborative, a cohort experience that provides an opportunity for leaders to gather, connect, innovate, and share strategies while building community.

What might be different about membership and programmatic offerings in networks designed for equity?

  • Membership offers different levels of engagement to foster shared ownership for those who want it as well as accessibility to a wider range.

  • Membership and offerings center participants’ voice

  • Offerings inspire long-range thinking, challenge current assumptions, and welcome outlier voices

To reach its vision of ending the STEM teacher shortage in every school by 2043, Beyond 100k takes an approach they call “networked impact,” which brings partner organizations together around a common goal and provides tools to support innovation, collaborative problem-solving, and implementation. Partners who join Beyond 100k represent a range of organizations, including nonprofits, institutes of higher education, funders, museums, teacher prep programs, and professional associations. Each Beyond100k partner make a commitment of how they will contribute to the network’s shared goal.

Networks designed for educational equity may share some important characteristics—inclusivity, dynamic structures, open and multilateral communication, and offerings that inspire innovation. Embracing these principles could help networks play an important role in advancing equitable education outcomes.


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