Fellow: Gautham Kaveti
Host: Chicago United for Equity
Project: School Equity Self Assessment
As the Policy Advisor Fellow for Chicago United for Equity, Gautham Kaveti developed a tool for parents, students, and school staff to evaluate the equity at their school around four areas: access, resources, outcomes, and representation.
“CPS Students are most impacted by the policies and structures at a school and, like their parents, need a tool to collect, organize, and raise their voices when inequities exist,” he explains.
Gautham created the structure for his project and overcame the initial challenges of a different working style and managing up to a busy direct supervisor. He also saw firsthand the importance of relationship building with key stakeholders.
“My outreach efforts were limited by my personal connection to those in the CUE school community network. Without this relationship building, getting people to buy in on my own was a real challenge,” shares Gautham.
He also found the experience to be instrumental to his learning in a number of other ways.
“One key learning I developed is how essential it is to include the voices of those people most affected by inequitable policies and structures. If they are not included in the process, then the endeavor loses its purpose,” he states.
This was top of mind for him as he designed the assessment tool.
“Parents of CPS students can be key drivers of change within a school or school system, but barriers exist. Having a tool to examine if collective concerns exist and act on those concerns is critical to having their voice heard,” explains Gautham.
He further found that, “like most educators, teachers and administrators are looking for ways to better their impact. Having a community-driven tool like this can help them gain perspective and improve their school culture. All the stakeholders will have the incentive of improving their school.”
Impact will be measured by implementation of the tool by stakeholders including how helpful they find the questions at identifying the inequities within the school and how the tool informs the plans to address them.
He found the whole experience valuable for his growth especially in “learning how to manage up, get what I need from my manager to progress, how to adjust my style to different working styles, budgeting my time, and considering capacity when taking on work.”
But he ultimately credits the experience for broadening his scope.
“There are so many factors that play a role in equity, and knowing that I can make an impact for families outside of school was a big shift for me.”
Get your foot in the policy and advocacy door — gain experience tackling real-world challenges impacting students. Apply for the Policy Advisor Fellowship —a six-month, part-time program in which a LEE member serves as a policy advisor to a senior LEE member.
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