Ed Equity Forum 2022: Why the Only Way Forward is Together

As is the case with many of you, I choose the events I go to these days carefully. I’m worried about the risks associated with the lingering pandemic, yes. And I’ve also been personally reminded in the past few years of just how precious our time is. As a new father – well I shouldn’t say new because my daughter learned to say “big girl” the other day – as a father, I’m also very thoughtful about time away from my family. So when we decided to bring Ed Trust—West’s Education Equity Forum back, it was because we knew the event could be what it was in pre-pandemic times: a gathering and galvanizing space for California’s education equity and justice community.

As I look back just a couple of short weeks ago on this year’s Forum, I think we did just that. I heard from so many that the #EdEquityForum2022 was a much-needed time, a supportive place, and from more than a few attendees, a healing space. I’m proud to note that more than 300 folks joined us in Los Angeles – just a few freeways away from our new LA office – including more than 50 K-12 district leaders and educators, dozens of college faculty and staff, and hundreds of community partners and advocates.

For the first time this year, we held Implementation Institutes as a pre-Forum option – including a session on action planning for equitable transitional kindergarten expansion – and saw well over 100 people register for these sessions. Implementation Institutes will likely be a staple now at upcoming Ed Equity Forums. And we’re grateful to the student artists from in and around Los Angeles who were featured in the Days of Awareness art installation at the Forum, on loan to us from Inner-City Arts’ Work of Art Permanent Collection.

Why did we hold pre-Forum sessions on implementation? Because as I said in my opening remarks the morning of the Forum, we can all cheer a bill signing, but we cannot lose sight of what happens next. Our three implementation institutes focused on recently passed policy initiatives that – if put into practice – can make tangible differences in the lives of Black and Brown students in California in the next few years, not decades from now. To make sure we seize on these opportunities and see immediate impacts, we must all commit to coming together around very strategic and focused ways to put these practices into play.

Our theme this year was Moving Forward Together because to us it underscores the strength and power of our collective wisdom and dedication as a community of educators and advocates. None of this work can be done effectively in silos. As an organization, we are committed to continuing to be a convener in this space. We’re shifting a few things around in terms of our events – moving the Forum itself to every two years (see you in 2024, more information coming soon!), and in developing intentional opportunities for connecting and collaborating around implementation and action planning in the meantime. And we’ll continue our work directly with K-12 districts through our Educator Engagement team.

And as our lunchtime keynote speaker Dr. Anna Malaika Tubbs pointed out, there’s no such thing as a self-made man, so I want to give a huge shout out to my wife for solo parenting so I could be at the Forum, and to the incredible Ed Trust—West team for their months of hard and dedicated work on this event. Last but not least I want to echo something else I said in my opening remarks: thank you. Thank you to the attendees of the Forum, the speakers and sponsors, and thank you to all of you who couldn’t be there with us but who do work every day to uplift, support, and honor the brilliance of Black and Brown students every day.

In my speech at the Forum, I added two videos that I felt helped capture my vision for our work and also spoke to the work Ed Trust—West does. Click below to watch the short videos:

I hope you also enjoy our photo gallery from the Ed Equity Forum 2022. A big shoutout to our photographer, Mark Savage, for capturing the spirit of community and connectedness I hope we all felt in those days!

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.