NSBA Equity Online Symposium

Today’s world of education has changed dramatically. To stay ahead of the new speed of change and support our state school boards' associations, NSBA will host a complimentary, online symposium on Feb. 10, 2021.

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Over the years NSBA has increased its commitment to educational equity. However, it has become painfully clear that our nation’s education system is a long way from providing an equitable public education for all children. Therefore, NSBA’s leadership saw that it was time for an initiative that explicitly focuses on racial inequities in education. Out of this vision was born the Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE) initiative. This symposium will focus on the importance of DIRE to ensure the support that equalizes and improves the educational experience for every student.


1-5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

1:00 – 1:05 p.m.             

Opening Remarks
Anna Maria Chávez, Executive Director & CEO, NSBA

1:05 – 2:12 p.m.                            

Brandon P. Fleming, Founder & CEO of Harvard Diversity Project, Assistant Debate Coach at Harvard University

In this presentation, Fleming will share his riveting journey from being an at-risk youth and college dropout to becoming an award-winning Harvard educator. Fleming will reveal the lessons and tools that he uses to transform underprivileged youth into global champions and Ivy League scholars. Among the many topics addressed are best practices in the importance of leadership in intentionally supporting pedagogy, classroom management, climate and culture, administration, socio-emotional intelligence, and much more.

2:12 – 2:25 p.m.                             

Internal DIRE Team Presentation with NSBA Council Leaders
Jacinto Ramos Jr., Chair, Council of Urban Boards of Education, NSBA and President, Fort Worth Independent School District, TX
Devin Del Palacio, Chair, National Black Council of School Board Members, NSBA and Board Member, Tolleson Union High School District, AZ
Moderated by Kathleen Vail, Director of Publications, NSBA

2:25 – 2:35 p.m.                            


2:35 – 3:22 p.m.                            

General Session: Equity Starts at The Top! A Panel Discussion with Education Leaders
Dr. Nakia Hall, Director of Field Services, Illinois Association of School Boards
Dr. Tamara M. Young, Board Vice President, Country Club Hills School District #160, IL
Dr. Mark D. Benigni
, Superintendent of Schools, Meriden School District, Connecticut
Moderated by Dr. Samuel T. King, Director of Superintendent Searches & Board Development, Georgia School Boards Association

As we see the needs of students and communities change, much discussion regarding equity centers around programs and initiatives. However, in order for a district to be successful in their pursuit of equity they must first embrace the concept of equity at the board level. Panelists will discuss equity at the school board level; how to create school board policy about equity; and how to apply this to the ever-changing needs of students, staff, and communities.

3:22 – 3:32 p.m.                            

Student Presentation
East Side Community School, New York, NY

3:32 – 3:40 p.m.                            


3:40 – 3:42 p.m.                             

Stories from The Field

This session features school board members from across the nation, sharing their inspirational stories and lessons learned through their personal journeys. Presentations focus on the importance of dismantling institutional racism in education to ensure all students receive equitable access to an education that maximizes their potential.

3:42 – 3:52 p.m.                             

Stories from The Field #1: Words Matter!
Martha James-Hassan, Associate Professor, Morgan State University, Commissioner, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners

Biased language can interfere with effective relationships and equitable support of student success. This dialogue focuses on reframing political correctness and unpacking strategies to successfully navigate the dynamic landscape of language.

3:54 - 4:04 p.m.                             

Stories from The Field #2
Dr. Sharon Gentry, Board Member, Metro-Nashville Public Schools/Board of Education, TN

Details coming soon.

4:06 - 4:16 p.m.                              

Stories from The Field #3: Seats at the Table: School Board Members’ Perspectives on Race and Racism
Dr. Jayme Mathias, Executive Director, Mexican American School Boards Association

The Mexican American School Boards Association responded to the 2020 murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery by publishing a book with nearly 50 school board members’ perspectives on how far we’ve come with respect to the issues of race and racism in our nation’s public schools—and how far we still have to travel to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a society where our children and grandchildren will no longer be judged by the color of their skin. This session presents findings from the book.

4:16 - 4:55 p.m.                             

Stories from the Field Panel Discussion
Moderated by Frank S. Henderson, Jr, Secretary-Treasurer, NSBA & Co-Chair DIRE National Advisory Steering Committee, NSBA

4:55-5:00 p.m.                                

Closing Remarks
Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, Esq., Chief Transformation Officer, NSBA