The Past Year
This month marks one year since we took the reins of Marzano Research to lead the company into the future as an independent, woman-owned small business. As new business owners, we were tremendously excited, a bit trepidatious, as well as honored and humbled to lead an organization with a name known across the globe.
A year into our journey, all those emotions remain, plus a year’s worth of hope and a vision that we can impact education for the better. As we move past our first anniversary, we enter a new year with a new message, logo, and website. We are excited about using these tools to speak to the communities we serve and strengthen our mission to improve education for all learners.
As you would expect with a team of researchers and improvement specialists, we are also reflective.
This year has challenged us in ways we anticipated and in ways we did not imagine. For the country, it has been a year fraught with challenges both global and at home, and a year brightened by the hope of real change toward a more equitable society. A global pandemic led us to shift our work—the what, the how, the where—while ensuring the safety and well-being of our team.
Now, safety and well-being have taken on new urgency for us. We are frustrated, concerned, and angry about the racism and violence against members of the Black community. We know the pandemic is waging a deadlier toll on people and communities of color. Witnessing the continued brutality against Black individuals, and especially Black men, resolutely tells us that safety and well-being are not to be taken for granted. Witnessing the massive protests against this violence and systemic racism confirms for us that we must be resolute.
These events have challenged us to not be silent, to not simply give easy words and phrases. They have challenged us to take action and make practical changes that enable everyone equally to learn, live, and work to achieve their highest potential.
Over this past year we have had the privilege to connect with diverse organizations and stakeholders and do important work focused on equity:
- We worked with the Mi Casa Resource Center (MCRC)—a Latinx-focused organization that educates, trains, and supports youth, adults, and families on their path to economic success—on a needs assessment of the early impact that the COVID-19 crisis had on low-wage workers, micro-business owners, and their communities.
- We engaged with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and the South Dakota Department of Education to support Native American learners through culturally representative and responsive systems.
- We also worked with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to ensure equitable access to excellent educators for all students, including those in rural areas and areas with high concentrations of minority and lower income earning families.
These are just some examples of the work we do every day to create a more just and equitable education system for all students and educators. Conducting data analyses for a needs assessment, developing an evaluation plan for implementation of a Native American Essential Understandings curriculum, identifying successful equity improvement strategies and plans—this work is not flashy. It’s not easy to sum up in a few words, and it’s not always easy to explain to your family or friends what you do and how it makes a difference for all kids. This work is messy and complicated and long term. And that’s the work we do at Marzano Research.
A Look to the Future
Today though, we acknowledge the work we have done is not enough. Our data analyses are not enough. Our evaluations are not enough. Our research studies and our continuous improvement processes and our evidence-based practices are not enough.
Systemic inequality and racism continue to pervade our education system, our communities, and our nation. So, we will continue to work with our clients on data analyses and research studies and continuous improvement designed to change the education system for the better and improve outcomes for all students—because that is the work we trained for, we are passionate about, and we love doing every day. And we will do more—more internal, more local, and more concrete to our business.
We do not have all the answers. Here’s what we do know:
- We will keep listening to and learning from our staff, our partners, our stakeholders, our clients, our communities.
- We will have discussions with our staff about diversity, inclusion, and equity in our work and our workplace.
- We will keep pushing to diversify our staff and improve our hiring processes.
- We will keep pushing to diversify the companies we work with and purchase from.
- We will examine our work internally and externally to ensure our practices reflect our core values in support of our Black community and all communities of color.
These are the small but real ways we at Marzano Research can start to dismantle inequality and racism in our society.
A Promise and an Invitation
When we registered as and then became a certified benefit company, we were not just checking a box to make ourselves feel better about being business owners. The tenets of benefit companies—a focus on creating a better community, a better world, and a better business—are part of our core values as individuals. These principles inform every decision we make as business owners.
We promise to examine how we are complicit in systemic inequality and racism and to work to change our business, our communities, and our education system. We welcome your hard questions and the opportunity to work with you to change education systems for the better.
Danette Parsley │ Danette.Parsley@MarzanoResearch.com
Jennifer Norford │ Jennifer.Norford@MarzanoResearch.com
Joy Bell │ Joy.Bell@MarzanoResearch.com