It’s time: Launching a statewide study of equity in schools across North Carolina

If you don't know James Ford, meet James Ford. James taught in our public schools, and we got to know him when he served as North Carolina's 2014-15 teacher of the year. James then served on the board of EducationNC, and we have been partnering with him ever since. James says his commitment to equity emerged from his experience teaching, and he is respected for working across many lines of difference. Now he is making sure research drives a better education and educational experience for all of the students in North Carolina. He serves as co-chair of the Leading on Opportunity Council in Charlotte, he is working on his Ph.D. at UNC-Charlotte in Urban Education, and he is a state and national thought leader, owning his own consulting firm, Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC.

As the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research embarks on a three-year study of equity across North Carolina, it was important to us to partner with a teacher leader of color. James will be consulting with us on this important issue internally and externally. With his help, the Center will be mapping equity in all 100 counties and conducting research, while also identifying brights spots of schools providing equitable opportunities and lifting up teachers of color.

This is not the first time the Center has conducted research on equity. In 2004, we conducted a study, "Race, Ethnicity, and Public Policy Outcomes: From Disparity to Parity." As the Center celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, we will study our past to chart our future.

The Center's 2004 recommendations noted, "In some instances, there may be a missing ingredient that prevents individuals from reaching their full potential. That missing ingredient is hope." No more. We want to change that too. — Mebane Rash

About the author


James E. Ford is the executive director of CREED — the Center for Racial Equity in Education. He represents the Southwest Education Region on the N.C. State Board of Education. Ford is pursuing his Ph.D. in Urban Education at UNC Charlotte. He previously taught World History and Sociology at Garinger High School in Charlotte, and in 2014-15, he was the Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year.