Representation is a guidepost for people who are making decisions, providing services or creating change by simply being in the room. The goal of representation is to ensure inclusion of the perspectives of groups impacted by the decision makers, service providers or influencers.
Representation does not mean strict adherence to percentages. To illustrate, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) does not necessarily have to secure Asian Americans to fill 14.3% of its new teacher hires next year because 14.3% of the total student population are Asian Americans. However, data showing that 8.5% of new teacher hires in 2019 are Asian Americans does raise conversations about whether students feel that they have role models and feel safe to confide in their teachers if they have challenges in their lives. Taking a larger view, minority teachers number 50% of the total minority population while white teachers represent 200% of white students. (1) Using representation as context, the school community can hold conversations that may lead to innovative strategies.
In summary, representation evokes questions such as: one, do the people present in the room have personal experience with, have knowledge of, are connected to the impacted communities, and two, are the numbers of those people present sufficient to render inclusion of the perspectives of those impacted communities?
(1) Asian American, Black and Latino and White students comprise 14.3%, 21.4%, 32.3% and 28.3% of the total Montgomery County Public Schools population while Asian American, Black and Latino and White new teacher hires at MCPS in 2019 were reported at 8.5%, 13.5%, 14.3%. 61.3% respectively. Source: MCPS