The DIRE logo and an image of a girl writing at a desk

Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education

As schools across the country responded to acts of systemic racism in the summer of 2020, NSBA launched the Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE) initiative to assist state school boards associations and other education leaders in addressing racial inequities.

DIRE acknowledges that institutional, structural, and systemic racism has been engrained in the history of America and throughout its public education system. It is dedicated to understanding and recognizing the root causes of barriers to equitable educational outcomes for each child.

The nation’s school boards are uniquely positioned to accomplish this task. School boards set goals, approve policies, adopt curriculum, set budgets, and oversee administrative aspects for their local schools. They also serve as a direct line of communication from the community to the school. School boards are responsible for fulfilling the promise of public education.

In 2017, the NSBA Board of Directors adopted the following definition of equity:

We affirm in our actions that each student can, will, and shall learn. We recognize that based on factors including but not limited to disability, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, students are often deprived of equitable educational opportunities. Educational equity is the intentional allocation of resources, instruction, and opportunities according to need, requiring that discriminatory practices, prejudices, and beliefs be identified and eradicated.

DIRE is governed by a National Advisory Steering Committee composed of NSBA’s equity council chairs, state school boards association presidents, and state school boards association executive directors from across the country.

NSBA's Equity Online Symposium, held live on Feb. 10, 2021, focused on the importance of DIRE to ensure support that equalizes and improves the educational experience for every student. Learn more and view the free video of this event and share it with your colleagues. 

NSBA Equity Online Symposium 2021

Interview with DIRE Co-Chairs


The following resources are designed to offer support and guidance that lead to changes in practices and policy. They are organized in categories identified as key areas in NSBA’s Center for Public Education Educational Equity research brief.

The content listed is not intended to take place of services provided by state associations and other agencies.

Intentional Allocation of Funding
March 2020 E-Rate Schools
September 2019 The Opportunity to Increase Equity: A Guide to ESSA Title IV, Part A
September 2017  Busting the Myth of "One-Size-Fits-All" Public Education 
January 2017  School Segregation Then & Now
October 2015  School Choice: What the Research Says 
Access to High Level Curriculum 
Ongoing  NSBA LifeReady 
June 2020  Black Students in the Condition of Education 2020 
2016  The Path Least Taken 
March 2015  Learning to Read, Reading to Learn: Why Third-Grade Is a Pivotal Year for Mastering Literacy 
Access to Qualified Teachers
August 2020  Increasing Equity and Achievement by Empowering Students 
April 2016 Fixing The Holes in the Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages Report 
Safe and Supportive School Climates 
Ongoing  NSBA's Center for Safe Schools 
December 2019  Equity in Discipline


These stories serve as powerful examples of what equity in action looks like for real school districts across the country.


Uncomfortable Conversations

For three years, Massachusetts’ Needham Public Schools have led an equity initiative that requires the community to embark on a series of difficult and uncomfortable conversations about race and cultural heritage. The result? A systematic approach to address district-wide equity efforts.

Southern Discomfort

While Durham, North Carolina, is experiencing a huge economic and cultural renaissance, school enrollment is declining. More troubling, they are becoming more segregated than in the past. NSBA's American School Board Journal examines the school leaders working hard to relentlessly promote Durham's public schools.

Segregation's Legacy

On the 65th anniversary of Brown, American School Board Journal revisits the town at the center of the school integration movement. While its future is unknown, its past remains instructive as integration in America’s public schools has declined to the lowest levels in 40 years.

History Lessons

In a politically unsettled time nationally, history teachers are facing daunting barriers amid calls to change how students learn about the past. In response, many districts are promoting inquiry and analysis practices as well as confronting America's history head on.

Novel Idea

Schools across the country are using diverse stories to engage students in English classes. The benefits include a lifelong love of reading, but also the knowledge that their lives are being lived by countless Americans and are reflected in literature.