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NYU professor addresses equity in education

NYU professor addresses equity in education

Photo courtesy of NYU

Hofstra’s literary studies program hosted a two-day event for graduate students in the teaching profession to gain credit toward their degree through a thought-provoking discussion on the meaning of equity in the classroom with David Kirkland, executive director of the New York University (NYU) Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, on Saturday, March 9.

“The graduate students have a chance to spend an extended time with the scholar,” said Debra Goodman, professor of specialized programs in education at Hofstra. 

The weekend-long workshop provided students with an opportunity to participate in a variety of discussions. 

“Sometimes, when you are a practitioner and you are in the schools, you are so busy trying to cope with expectations that you do not have a chance to step back and think,” Goodman said. 

On the first day of the event, Kirkland spoke about his personal experiences and projects in the educational system. 

He displayed one of his projects concerning several students and their inspirational journey through the educational system.

 “With the video and the content itself being so powerful, it really kind of shut you up and showed you that these kids grew up,” said Victoria Dempsey, a graduate student in the literacy studies program. Many of the kids in the video were formerly considered to be non-writers and non-readers. “Here they are doing incredible things ... [and] teaching us,” Dempsey said. 

On the second day of the event, Kirkland asked the audience to participate in two playful and captivating activities. 

The first activity generated empathy within the audience for students that have different linguistic backgrounds by limiting the audience’s dialect. 

It presented the lesson that “not all students are going to perform at the same linguistic intelligence,” Kirkland explained.

The second activity stressed the difference between equity and equality. 

“There is a strong difference [between equity and equality] and I do not think people realize until they actually experience it,” said Nika Chery, a graduate student in the doctoral program for teaching and learning. 

For Kirkland, the goal of the event was to transfer the errors in the educational system into activities and lessons in order to show educators that not every student is linguistically the same. 

“It is not one size fits all,” said Stephanie Malatestinic, a graduate student in literacy studies program. 

“I think the most powerful thing is [Kirkland] sharing his story and using his experiences and background to grow from it,” said Logan Kravitz, a graduate student in the literacy studies program. 

“He had two options: He could have let it get to him or he could diverge from it and make something of himself. Everything he does is for a purpose because it is based on something real.” 

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