Advancing Equity in Policy: Using Fostering Equity Module IV
Author: Harrison Newton, Deputy Director, Center for Community Resilience
Since America’s inception, the systems and structures that produce inequitable outcomes in our nation have been supported by policy, often expressed as law.
It is in policy that a society reveals its priorities, even if those priorities conflict with a stated set of beliefs and values. Undoing inequity is work in which we must all engage — from the nation’s capital, to statehouses across the country, city councils, local school boards, neighborhood associations and within organizations.
To support this work, the Center for Community Resilience at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health produced a fourth module in the Fostering Equity series: Advancing Equity in Policy.
Using the Module
The Fostering Equity modules are designed to assist community-led organizations, non-profits, individuals, businesses or policymakers — in developing and executing a policy agenda. The modules focus on three systems whose policies and practices are most influential in producing vicious cycles of inequity in American society: housing, education, law enforcement and criminal justice.
Within each system, we highlight key equity goals and provide concrete policy recommendations to achieve equity over time as well as links to specific proposals from state or local governments that exemplify the policy and measurable outcomes. The module also provides additional context and resources to assist advocates in understanding the policies they endeavor to change.
Below we highlight one equity goal and how you might use the module in your advocacy efforts to achieve equity over time.
EQUITY GOAL: Ending the school to prison pipeline
Creating Shared Understanding: For communities or stakeholders interested in exploring this goal, the module provides historical context and explains how policies often result in children of color denied the opportunity to have misconduct addressed at the school level but instead tracked to criminal justice system — even on their first offense or for non-violent actions. Advocates can use the historical and trend data provided in the module to foster a shared understanding of the disproportionate impact of these policies on children in their community. The modules provide equity goals as a roadmap for identifying local laws and ordinances that produce inequitable outcomes.
Provide Policy Recommendations: The module provides policy recommendations such as “Reallocate funding for Student Resource Officers and support investments in mental and behavioral health staff and supporting infrastructure.”
The recommendation is accompanied by contextual information showing how the presence of Student Resource Officers (SROs) in the school environment are tied to increased numbers of suspensions and expulsions and referrals to the criminal justice system. We then provide examples from Minneapolis, Virginia, and other jurisdictions that have taken action to change or eliminate the role of SROs in schools and reallocate resources to support the needs of students.
Measuring Equity: At the Center for Community Resilience our focus is on equitable outcomes that can be measured, not merely activity — we provide a list of potential indicators with each policy recommendation. These measures are useful indices to track the effectiveness of policy change. Our recommended measures for transitioning from SROs to mental health support include decrease in the number of incidents involving violence and improved academic achievement.
Building on Progress & Additional Resources
This module is designed to be used with other CCR resources to assist coalitions advocating for policy change. Our Coalition Building and Communications Guide provides guidance to create effective messaging across multiple stakeholder groups that helps to grow an advocacy coalition. The Pair of ACEs Tree and data infographic templates provides a compelling tool to utilize data from your community to create shared understanding. The Policy and Advocacy Guide can be used to develop and execute a powerful advocacy strategy.
Understanding, dismantling and transforming the policies that drive adversity and inequity is how we begin to build a more just, equitable and resilient nation. We hope this module and all of our tools assist you in this critical work.