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ChamberRVA sponsors webinar series to address “Equity in Education”

Posted at 9:21 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 21:21:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Addressing inequality has been a central demand of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

Equity in education is a large part of that movement.

A new webinar series offered by ChamberRVA each Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. will address the causes of inequity in education and proposes fixers.

Leah Walker, Director of Equity and Community Engagement at the Virginia Board of Education spoke to Bill Fitzgerald via Zoom about the program.

Walker says once where you live doesn’t determine how well you do in school, and thus in life, then we have equity in education.

“We define equity as our inability to predict student outcomes based on race, gender, zip code ability and socio economic status, or the languages that our students speak at home,” said Walker. “We define equity this way because this is where we see the greatest gaps both in academic opportunity and academic achievement in the Commonwealth.”

Walker says having conversations about social justice makes such discussions relevant today. “We’re trying to move beyond this notion of ‘equality,’ where everybody gets the same thing, versus equity when everyone has what is necessary to achieve the same outcomes,” she said. “It's important today because we don't have any more time to waste.”

Walker says the coronavirus pandemic, and the resulting move for education to be conducted largely virtually, has the potential to expose the fault lines even more. “But I also think that the pandemic and its ability to expose some of these inequities that are inherent within our system really do give us an opportunity to rethink and reframe how we support students,” Walker said. “How we provide a system of education that truly does allow each and every child to maximize their potential- that truly is our goal.”

Each webinar session will be held weekly (Wednesday) from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT starting Wednesday, July 29 through Wednesday, August 26, at

Panelists for each session include:

Session #1: Equity in Education

Wednesday, July 29, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Dr. James Lane - Superintendent of Public Instruction, Virginia Department of Education []

Leah Walker - Director Equity & Community Engagement, Virginia Department of Education []

Session #2: Removing Barriers

Wednesday, August 5, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Monica Manns - Chief Equity, Diversity & Opportunity Officer, Henrico County Public Schools []

Session #3: Connecting Cultures

Wednesday, August 12, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Tanya Gonzalez - Executive Director, Sacred Heart Center []

Juan Santacoloma - Community Engagement Coordinator, Chesterfield County []

Session #4: Providing Pathways

Wednesday, August 19, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Lorie Coker - Community Impact & Investment, Capital One Catapult Program

Harrison Hayes - Director, VCU Pathways to Health Care Workforce []

Jennifer Boyle - Executive Director, Mentor Virginia []

Session #5: Alternative Routes to Enter the Workforce

Wednesday, August 26, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Creamer - VP Workforce Development & Credential Attainment, Community College Workforce Alliance []

Guylaine Sainte Juste - Executive Director, Year Up []