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Listen to Part 1 – Developing an Equity Program


This two-part episode out of a three-part series focuses on how one school district in Pennsylvania has moved to embed equity into its education practice. In part 2, Mr. Ken Nickson, the Coordinator of Educational Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Erie Public Schools and Dr. Heather Bennett, director of equity services at PSBA engage in a discussion on implicit bias and the challenges in moving equity forward in Erie Public Schools.

Skip to: 00:28 What are some of the challenges you encountered in implementing a formal practice of equity in your district?
Skip to: 02:23 Can you define implicit bias?

It tough because you’re talking about things that are entrenched in people’s beliefs and mindsets.

As educators, we have to continuously examine our internal perceptions in order for us to create and implement positive external practices and policies for our kids.

Skip to: 09:05 What are some tips or guidance around when a district might start?

I would definitely do the toolkit, I would form a committee and I would use some type of a climate survey…

Ken E. Nickson, Jr., Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Erie Public Schools

Born and raised in Erie, PA, Ken Nickson, Jr. is a 1996 graduate of Central High School. He graduated from Clarion University of PA, in May 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, specializing in Elementary/Special Education. He earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2006 from Gannon University and currently holds a Principal Certificate and a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility. His professional career began in Pittsburgh, during the final semester of student teaching for Clarion, when he was hired as an Emotional Support teacher and given his own classroom in Pittsburgh’s Public Schools. It was there that Ken began to fuse his formal education with his life experiences to impart knowledge and impact the lives of the 10 middle school aged boys under his tutelage. Since then, Ken has worked his 17-year career with Erie’s Public Schools in various roles including his current role as Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion always holding the education and empowerment of the student as an integral priority. Ken is married to his high school sweetheart Tica, who also works for their school district as a Student Parenting Case Worker, Birth Doula, and Lactation Consultant. Together they have 4 kids, all of which attend Erie’s Public Schools. Ken also has a son who lives in Columbus, Georgia who is equally successful in that area’s public schools.

Ken and his family attend Erie Christian Fellowship Church, where he serves in Youth Ministry as a middle school teacher. He is a man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. When away from work, his time is spent coaching and watching his kids play sports. He enjoys date nights with his wife, and sneaking in some racquetball and fishing in the numerous waterways in his beloved hometown.

o PSBA Equity Action Plan
o Pennsylvania Equity and Inclusion Toolkit
o Christopher Emdin. 2016. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. Beacon Press.