Outside of the home, teachers and educators occupy one of the most powerful and influential forces in young people’s lives. As a consequence, they play a critical role in modeling the principles of equity and inclusion for which we all strive. Increasingly, attention is being devoted to fostering the conditions in schools that, in affirming and proactive ways, create safe and caring schools. This increased deliberate and conscious focus on equity and inclusive education is critical since overlooking this need can create the conditions that disempower and marginalize students and, by extension, their parents and guardians. And this is, of course, antithetical to the goals of equity and inclusive education.
Therefore, it is in the interest of all those who care for and work with young people to champion and model behaviours and actions that foster positive individual and collective self-esteem. Students and their parents and guardians stand a far better chance of feeling strong and free when their identities are respected and when they experience a genuine sense of belonging in the school community.
Parents want schools and classrooms to be hubs of social cohesion in which commonalities are celebrated and differences are respected. Teachers share this desire, but they also want parents to realize that, while they care about each individual student in a class, a class is by definition made up of many such individuals. Each student has his or her own set of parents and guardians with their own values, belief systems, and expectations of what schools should look and feel like.
Effectively, teachers and educators cannot do this work alone or in isolation. Parents influential allies, champions and partners for teachers and educators in the journey toward exemplary equitable and inclusive schools.