This is part of what the CEO of the city charter school network Public Prep, Ian Rowe, told a panel of educators, including Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, on Tuesday in response to their discussion on the importance of racial, gender and other personal traits on students’ education:

“What’s interesting about those categories — race, religion, family structure, country of origin, religion, social class — is that our kids have no control over those.

“And so it’s really interesting because if you were to go into our schools and ask our kids, ‘What is your identity?’ they likely would not say any of those six categories. They likely would say, ‘I’m a boys prep scholar,’ or, ‘I’m a girls prep scholar.’ We just did a spelling bee, and one of our boys won the spelling bee. And so his identity now is the spelling bee champion. Or one of our girls just competed in a chess competition and got to the finals. She would say, ‘I’m a chess player.’

“And so I think it’s really important that a big message to our kids or our students is that identity is not static. It is dynamic. And that you get to create it. And that there will be lots of adults — both well-meaning adults and not-well-meaning adults — that are looking to box you in to certain categories of identity. And our strong message to our kids is, ‘Do not let them. You have the power. You have the control.’ And so ultimately, what we are trying to develop is kids who have a sense of personal agency. That they have the individual decision-making power to overcome whatever identity may be ascribed to them. They are not inherently less than nor inherently more than, because of a certain identity. They are not inherently disadvantaged nor are they inherently advantaged. And that ultimately they have the power to create their own sense of identity in those six categories or outside.

“Ultimately, that is what we are trying to develop in our kids.”