A District Vision for Equity
Report on Surrey Schools Response to COVID
School systems worldwide have a clear call to action to address the long-standing inequities that have become more and more visible over the last few years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased attention to systemic racial injustice. Regardless of where a system is in its transformation to authentically center equity, translating that commitment into action in schools and classrooms is not easy and requires both significant shifts in mind-sets and practices and supports for those shifts. This requires courageous, adaptive, and morally centered leadership. The Center for Global Education at Asia Society (CGE) identified Surrey Schools as a “bright spot” of a district meaningfully engaged in this application of its equity commitment, as evidenced through its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, Policy Studies Associates (PSA) was engaged by the Center for Global Education at Asia Society (CGE) and Surrey Schools in British Columbia, Canada, to develop an action-focused case study of school system strategies to support the implementation of equity-driven, anti-racist policies and practices. In this report, the PSA authors distill strategies that Surrey Schools has enacted at the district level, intended to enable a large, diverse district to operate equitably and serve all learners, including:
- Vision and Common Language
- Organizational Structures
- Relationships with School Leaders
- School Flexibility and Autonomy
- Valuing Qualitative Data
- Embracing SEL
Strategies presented in this case study are foundational to Surrey Schools’ equity practices and core beliefs, and explored largely through the lens of how those foundations, norms, and practices came to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Surrey Schools isn’t perfect (district leaders themselves would say the same), these strategies are presented in the hopes that they can be applied more broadly to other large, diverse districts seeking to embed equity in the vision, operations, and everyday practices of their schools. This report also highlights school-level examples of these strategies and their impact in action.