Next NAIS President Candidates Series, Part 3: Equity | Ray Ravaglia | 11 Min Read

August 16, 2022

Note from the editor: Most of our readers know that NAIS is searching for a new President. We would like the search to be a more open process, therefore subject to questions from independent school constituents. Consequently, we are publishing a series of articles with one question each to candidates for the next NAIS President. This series includes:  1. Next NAIS President Question Series | Part 1: On Curriculum & Knowledge | Sanje Ratnavale 2. Next NAIS President Series | Part 2: Supporting Teacher Voices | Alden Blodget 

Today’s question: What is your definition of equity in the context of independent schools?  Should independent schools be concerned about equity?  If so, what are the challenges and solutions for independent schools in delivering equity?  If not, why not?

In addressing this question, in addition to the broader question of how the school should act in a broader context, we would encourage future candidates for NAIS President to consider the matter from multiple perspectives:

  • The school as a developer of students
  • The school as an employer of faculty
  • The school as the focal point of the alumni and the broader mission

In each of these roles, and from each of these perspectives, the questions of “what constitutes equity” and “what constitutes the pursuit of equity” will have different, layered answers.  The question of how leadership can best operate in the context of academia has long produced a variety of answers.  The most iconic is probably that of Clark Kerr, the great former Chancellor of the University of California, who when asked in the late 1960s what the duties of a college president were, memorably said there were three: Parking for the faculty, sports for the alumni, and sex for the undergraduates. Presidents of colleges these days clearly have shown different priorities as any of these three constituencies would attest.

Before launching into this analysis we would also encourage any prospective President to start a discussion of equity by addressing the inherent conflict between the notion of equity as a broad social goal, and the exclusivity (the opposite of inclusivity) that is a fundamental feature of the typical independent school.  Historically the flight to non-public schools has been as much about the desire to escape the inadequate equity of insufficiency for the abundance…

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Ray Ravaglia

Raymond Ravaglia, Chief Learning Officer at Opportunity Education, founded Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, was the principal architect of Stanford University’s Online High School and is also author of Bricks and Mortar: the making of a Real Education at the Stanford Online High School. He has presented regularly at conferences on gifted education and e-learning for the past 15 years. He has published in scholarly and professional journals on different aspects of e-learning, was the 1996 recipient of the paper of the year award from GiftedChild Quarterly, and in 1997 received a Central Pioneer Award. Raymond has served as an external reviewer for the Office of Post-Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, has been an advisor to the College Board on the subject of online education, and was a founding board member of the International Council for Online Learning. He received his BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from Stanford University.