Other Group

Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP)

Website:

https://greatlakesequity.org/map-eac

Location:

Indianapolis, Indiana

Formation:

2016

Type:

Left-of-center Education Advocacy

Director:

Seena M. Skelton

Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP) trains schools and instructors on racial bias and inclusion, while advocating for the teaching of critical race theory at all grade levels. A project of Great Lakes Equity, it was founded in 2016 and is funded with tax dollars allocated to a number of Equity Assistance Centers under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. [1]

Great Lakes Equity’s initial grant of $8.25 million over five years allows it to exercise influence in 13 states and 7,000 school districts serving more than 11 million students. [2]

Activities

Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center hosts an annual summit that brings together educators from its target states to discuss ways to improve “equity outcomes” in classrooms. [3] In “Leadership in Equity,” a 2020 presentation offered by director Seena M. Skelton, MAP states that its goal is not to close “achievement gaps” between white and minority students, because this only “works to evade the analysis of racism and other forms of structural oppression.” Rather, “school leadership rooted in social justice has, at its center, tension” out of which “reform movements” can grow. [4]

In Assessing Bias in Standards and Curricular Materials, educators are asked a battery of questions with responses ranging from “strongly agree to strongly disagree” being assigned a point value. These numbers are then calculated, providing the educator with a view of possible (implicit and unknown) bias. The document warns against “Cosmetic Bias,” in which materials appear free of bias, but are said to be only marketed that way. The document probes the teacher with questions about whether curricula are too heteronormative, or if they imply cisgender privilege. [5]

MAP also publishes the journal Equity Dispatch. In one issue, the authors draw out the distinction between an “ally” (a supporter in word and thought) and an “accomplice” (one who takes an active part in that support by protesting or other direct action). They claimed that accomplices are willing to risk “jeopardizing their comfort; endangering their livelihood; compromising their physical safety; and, in some cases, gambling their freedom … while accomplice-ship does not necessarily result in physical harm, it does mean literally putting yourself in a position that indisputably communicates your stance on advocating alongside marginalized groups.” After this statement MAP’s authors provide the disclaimer that they are not suggesting that being an accomplice is better than being an ally, only making a distinction for “educational and advocacy purposes.” [6]

In another issue the authors, which include MAP director Seena Skelton, write that schools transmit ideas and values that may dehumanize students who are not white cisgender males. [7]

Director

Seena M. Skelton, director of operations at MAP, is a former co-director of the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University. Skelton is also former adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University, College of Mount Saint Joseph, University of Cincinnati, and Indiana University/Purdue University-Indianapolis.  She is also a member of the Indiana Disability Rights Roundtable. [8]

References

  1.  Federal Register. “Applications for New Awards: Equity Centers.” FederalRegister.gov Website.” January 13, 2021. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/13/2021-00540/applications-for-new-awards-equity-assistance-centers ^
  2. Indiana University Bloomington. “$8.25M grant to Fund New Regional Equity Assistance Center…” Indiana University Bloomington. November 4, 2016. Accessed January 26, 2022.  https://education.indiana.edu/news/2016/2016-11-04-Equity-Assistance-Center.html ^
  3. Network. “2018 State Equity Leaders Summit.” Network Website. Accessed January 3, 2022. http://www.thenetworkwi.com/calendar/2018/4/11/2018-state-equity-leaders-summit ^
  4. “Leading for Equity etc.” Michigan.gov. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Skelton_Keynote_2020_MI_CI_Conf_724561_7.pdf ^
  5. “Assessing Bias in Standards and Curricular Materials.” IYI.org. February 2017. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.iyi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Handouts-Packet.pdf ^
  6. Skelton, Seena et al. “Ally & Accomplice: Two Sides of the Same Coin.” IYI.org. Undated. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.iyi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Handouts-Packet.pdf ^
  7. Skelton, Seena et al. “Acknowledging Difference and Disrupting Systemic Oppression is Inclusive, Not Divisive.” Great Lakes Equity. Accessed January 3, 2022.  https://greatlakesequity.org/sites/default/files/202131082756_newsletter.pdf ^
  8.   Indiana University Bloomington. “Seena Skelton.” Indiana.edu. Accessed January 3, 2022. https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/cclc/training-and-events/facing-the-future-together/keynote-bios.html ^
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