Schools of Opportunity: 10 Research-Based Models of Equity in Action Edited by Adam York, Kevin Welner, and Linda Molner Kelley

Book on a table in front of a bookshelf

Schools of Opportunity is an edited collection of chapters that highlights the accomplishments of ten American public high schools who had won awards through the “Schools of Opportunity” program administered by The National Education Policy Center (NEPC). This program was established to recognize excellent school-level interventions to close, what the authors refer to as, the opportunity gap in public education. This gap refers to many barriers that students face when accessing high quality education programming based on their class, location (i.e., urban, sub-urban, or rural), race, gender, or other equity-seeking criteria.

The book itself being structured as a collection of school profiles can be read in its entirety as a collection of essays, or an interested educator may refer to a specific chapter that addresses a topic of interest (e.g., assessment, discipline, poverty interventions, etc.). Written by mainly school administrators (and co-authored by NEPC researchers), there are some chapters that present a challenging narrative style for an OSSTF/FEESO readership. These chapters often portray teachers as barriers to equity reforms that need to be overcome for the heroic administrator to intervene on behalf of the underappreciated student/parent body. In others, teacher leadership is specifically referred to as a key component to the ongoing sustainability of equity reform efforts. These efforts include some schools encouraging teachers to participate in hiring processes for their schools and allowing time and money to support teachers in deliberately onboarding newcomers into their school’s ways of being. Some of these approaches are American and non-union focused but they do highlight two key facts about public education.

Namely, the need for greater funding (almost all the schools profiled sought philanthropic or other supports to fund their reform efforts), and the need for the freedom for school-level leaders (e.g., teachers, administrators, parent councils, etc.) to experiment based on the observed needs of their student body.

Schools of Opportunity is just that, an opportunity for readers to engage with a variety of approaches to equity work in our schools. By providing a variety of models, the text offers a sufficiently diverse set of options that educators should find something that resonates with their own journey to embedding equity practices into teaching.

About Taylor Ellis
Taylor Ellis Teacher, District 14, Kawartha Pine Ridge

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