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While efforts to achieve equity in education are prominent in school districts across this country, the effective implementation that results in meaningful change remains elusive. Even with access to compelling theories and approaches such as multicultural education, culturally responsive teaching, culturally relevant instruction, culturally sustaining pedagogy, schools still struggle to implement equitable change that reshapes the academic experiences of students marginalized by the prevailing history, culture, and traditions in public education. Instead of getting it right with equity implementation, many schools and districts remain trapped in a cycle of equity dysfunction.
In Belonging through a Culture of Dignity, Cobb and Krownapple argue that the cause of these struggles are largely based on the failure of educators to consider the foundational elements upon which educational equity is based, belonging and dignity. Through this work, the authors make these concepts accessible and explain their importance in the implementation of educational equity initiatives.
Though the importance of dignity and belonging might appear to be self-evident at first glance, it's not until these concepts are truly unpacked, that educators realize the dire need for belonging through dignity. Once these fundamental human needs are understood, educators can gain clarity of the barriers to meaningful student relationships, especially across dimensions of difference such as race, class, and culture. Even the most relational and responsive educators need this clarity due to the normalization of what the authors refer to as dignity distortions. Cobb and Krownapple challenge that normalization and offer three concepts as keys to successful equity initiatives: inclusion, belonging, and dignity. Through their work, the authors aim to equip educators with the tools necessary to deliver the promise of democracy through schools by breaking the cycle of equity dysfunction once and for all.