Youth-Led Group Works to Advance Educational Equity Within FPS


Fairfield Equity Coalition

The Fairfield Equity Coalition is a student-led group advocating for equity within Fairfield Public Schools.

The Fairfield Equity Coalition (FEC) was established in June of 2020 by Fairfield Warde alumni Danielle Altchiler and Zoe Gupta. The FEC is made up of current and former Fairfield Public Schools (FPS) students who have been working cooperatively to promote equity within the education system in Fairfield. 

Recently, the FEC has released an in-depth report on racial inequity within FPS. This ‘Promoting Anti-Racism and Racial Equity in Fairfield Public Schools’ report outlines the ways in which FPS students belonging to marginalized groups may be done a disservice by current district policies, culture, and curriculum. The report lists ten actionable changes that FPS could implement in order to address these issues. Suggested changes include ensuring the amplification of varied cultural and racial perspectives throughout the curriculum, shifting practices within disciplinary systems, and mandating sensitivity training to educate and empower teachers and staff in promoting anti-racism. 

For the FEC, the first step in developing these actionable changes was a survey sent out to FPS students and teachers. The survey provided students and teachers with a space in which they could express their ideas about equity within the education system. It also provided an opportunity to bring awareness to instances of erasure and racism which occur. FEC members worked to identify the most common concerns voiced by students and teachers. These concerns were extensively researched, and the FEC was able to put together the actionable changes – informed solutions to the issues identified by the survey. 

As stated in the FEC’s report, one of the main goals of this work is to advance a dialogue surrounding the promotion of equity within the Fairfield education system. Sophia Mughal, a sophomore at Ludlowe and Local Policy Liaison for the FEC during the development of the report, says that she believes the conversation has already come a long way. “There are many avenues in which the discussion has been facilitated,” she says. Examples of these avenues include community groups like Fairfield Ludlowe Youth for Equity, the current FLHS equity club; Fairfield Warde Voices for Equity, the current FWHS equity club; and the Racial Equity and Justice Task Force, the town equity coalition. Ian Leighton, an FPS alumnus and Editorial Chair for the FEC, shared a similar sentiment, saying that “issues related to racial equity […] were deprioritized in the past” but are now gaining more widespread awareness. 

Emma Bella Bass-Lawrence, who graduated from Warde in 2020 and was National/Statewide Policy Co-Chair for the FEC during the development of the report, says that she believes “the first official step” in truly advancing this conversation was presenting the FEC’s racial equity report to the Board of Education (BOE). The report was presented to the BOE on January 6 by FEC representatives Lynnaija Brevard, Ian Leighton, and Aliyah Augustin. The BOE members present were open to making changes where possible, and supported continuing open communication between administrators, students, and teachers regarding equity. Creating a task force which incorporates each of these important perspectives was identified as a possible next step in this discussion.

The FEC is composed of 15 to 27 year-olds, and this gives it a unique position within these conversations. Andrew McKinnis, a junior at Ludlowe and Local Policy Chair for the FEC during the development of the report, says “it’s definitely harder to be heard as a youth,” but that the unique perspective of students and alumni involved in youth-led organizations is to their advantage. Andrew says that youth “have more insight on certain things.” 

Lynnaija Brevard, FEC President, says that the success of groups like the FEC “shows [her] that the effectiveness of continuously sharing stories, educating, branching out to other people, [and] researching is working … It is impacting Fairfield and most importantly the Fairfield Public School systems.” There are many ways to get involved with this incredibly important work. The Coalition provides opportunities to utilize a variety of skills including data analysis, research, and social media management. Interested students or alumni are encouraged to apply for membership to the coalition through the Fairfield Equity Coalition Membership Form.