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2019 MERC Conference

Advancing Educational Equity: Supporting Diverse Learners in Metropolitan Richmond Schools Through Community Engaged Research





16th Annual MERC Conference

Public education is for all students. This foundational principle compels schools and divisions to meet the unique needs of diverse populations, continuously evolving to reflect the communities they represent. “Diversity” in public schools transcends multiple domains, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, language, ability, ambitions for life beyond high school, and other identifiers. By many standards, school divisions in the are highly diverse, representing urban, rural, and suburban communities. Our schools and divisions are entrusted with serving all students equitably, a task that presents considerable challenges but also tremendous opportunities. 

The strategic plans of MERC school divisions reflect a multifaceted commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as does the VCU School of Education. It is no surprise that the three current MERC studies determined by our Policy and Planning Council emphasize these principles. Our explores the patterns of racial gaps in exclusionary discipline as well as the factors that drive these inequities. Our seeks to understand the recruitment and retention of educators, including factors contributing to a diverse teacher workforce in metropolitan Richmond. Our investigates strategies for providing for educators working in . In each of these studies, we seek not only to engage the national conversation related to these issues of diversity in public education, but also to generate practical, actionable recommendations that support equity in our region’s schools.  

The 16th annual MERC Conference will bring together researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and students to advance the mission of school divisions in metropolitan Richmond to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. The event will encourage conversations about opportunities that exist as a result of diversity, as well as the challenges that arise. Through all conference activities, there will be a focus on finding solutions to the challenges we face, and in moving from understanding to action. 

The goals of the conference are: 

1. To explore the varied ways that stakeholders in MERC school divisions understand diversity, equity, and inclusion in their schools. 

2. To discuss local educational research on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with an emphasis on practical, actionable implications for MERC division schools. 

3. To share current efforts for advancing equity in MERC school divisions, highlighting how these vary based on the communities they serve.  

4. To offer tangible, sustainable takeaways for how to promote equity in schools, classrooms, and communities. 

5. To build community within and across stakeholder groups with the hope of encouraging collective action on these topics.