Atlanta Public Schools recently hosted a special ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the opening of the Center for Equity + Social Justice.
The Atlanta Board of Education adopted the Atlanta Public Schools equity policy in 2019, making equity a key factor in the 2020-2025 APS Strategic Plan. Shortly thereafter, the district hired its first Chief Equity + Social Justice Officer, Dr. Tauheedah Baker-Jones, and established the Center for Equity + Social Justice.
The APS Center for Equity + Social Justice was established as the district’s first office devoted solely to advancing equity in education. The CESJ mission aims to positively impact the lives of APS learners and learning communities so that all students thrive, not by accident, but by design. In turn, CESJ’s vision is to inspire a diverse, inclusive, and responsive organizational culture that serves as a national model for intentionally, explicitly, and sustainably addressing challenges of equity in education.
To assist with this effort, the CESJ supports the implementation of equity-focused, evidence-based practices for entities throughout Atlanta Public Schools. The CESJ offers thought partnership around tackling complex equity-focused challenges and serves as accountability partners to divisions, departments, offices, and schools.
The center also convenes and partners with cross-functional groups of internal and external stakeholders to create inclusive and just conditions for all students. In particular, the CESJ works to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized students receive a quality education. This includes a commitment to a comprehensive approach that addresses the social, emotional, and academic development and various needs of all students.
Dr. Baker-Jones said she is passionate about the center’s core work.
“The Center for Equity + Social Justice was birthed out of an imperative to positively impact the lives of our learners and learning communities so that every single one of our students thrives – not by accident, but by design,” she said.
Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring also shared her excitement and gratitude about the Center’s founding.
“To my knowledge, we are one of the only – if not the only – school district’s in the country that has pulled social justice into our equity work and placed it center stage,” Dr. Herring said. “We’ve lifted it all the way up to the title of this department. Because we know that action underscores how serious we are about our commitment to doing this work the right way … about making sure a critical piece of this work is given the appropriate space and weight.”
To learn more about the APS Center for Equity + Social Justice, please visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/equity!
Also, check out special 11 alive coverage of the ceremony!