is a Civil Right

Many students, because of their social-class, racial, ethnic, and linguistics characteristics, are not given the learning opportunities that will enable them to attain the deeper learning essential for functioning in a diverse global world and workforce. –James A. Banks


About this site

This website augments The Civil Rights Road to Deeper Learning book and brief. Stay tuned for blog posts and a reading guide!

Preface to the Book

Parents everywhere harbor a fundamental hope for their children—that they find their way to a full, happy, and independent life. The years in school are a crucial foundation for that future, especially given the global and tech-driven nature of the world they will enter. Whether or not any child is a star pupil in any given subject, the content knowledge, collaborative processes, and inquiring habits developed in the learning community of a classroom dedicated to deeper learning will serve them for a lifetime.

A timely educational tour de force. It belongs on every educator’s bookshelf!

—Gloria Ladson-Billings

Unfortunately, as of this writing, the very practices that would serve our children best are under unrelenting pressure. Parental concerns are at a boiling point after 3 years of disruption to children’s lives and learning, and there is little grace or patience for the time and work needed to get our schools back on track. Teachers are exhausted and beleaguered, with few reserves of strength or goodwill left after 3 years of bridging massive gaps during the pandemic. On top of it all, current political expediency has put foundational education reforms and approaches in the crosshairs of violent debate.

In the midst of the turmoil, this volume offers an essential dose of guidance and hope. Drs. Linda and Kia Darling-Hammond each bring decades of work in the field to the task of assembling the evidence base regarding the essential investments underpinning deeper learning opportunities for every one of our children. Each author has made signal contributions to our thinking about how children learn, how best to support their success, and the relationship between equity and life outcomes.

Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond’s work—both her research and her experience in the field—has articulated a critical new framework for assessing health among marginalized populations, challenging us to create the conditions for children to thrive, not just survive oppression and discrimination. Here, we dig deeper to the civil rights foundation and imperative underlying real opportunities for any child to learn and thrive.

A thought-provoking must-read for policy­makers, educators, and researchers who are committed to social justice.

—Guadalupe Valdés

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond has dedicated her career to advancing education research, policy, and practice that further equity and empowerment for every child. In this book, interleaved examples of research and practice help connect the dots between a civil rights foundation, classroom practice, and outcomes for students. As someone who has worked in education at all levels of practice, research, and leadership, Dr. Darling-Hammond currently serves as the president of the California State Board of Education, overseeing a long-term statewide equity strategy for the state’s K–12 system. Initiated nearly a decade ago, the California strategy is a crucial test case of sustained investment under local control in order to build out supports for struggling schools, rather than taking punitive approaches.

These pages resonate with the authors’ proactive commitment to high-quality educational opportunity, and the confidence that comes from intimate knowledge of the evidence base for action. These times cry out for reinvestment in our future, despite the headwinds we face. The good news is that there is clear evidence of what works, and the approaches worth fighting for. We can afford nothing less when it comes to our schools. “The path to our mutual well-being is built on equitable educational opportunity,” the authors conclude. We would do well to keep pushing forward on the civil rights road to that opportunity they have so clearly laid out for us.

—Eliza Byard

What do civil rights have to do with deeper learning?

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