Fighting for Educational Equity: Equity Vs. Equality

by | Jun 8, 2018 | School Improvement, Students At Risk

Equity is not equality.

These concepts are often confused for one another but mean two very different things.

  • Fighting for equality is to fight for everyone to receive the same education.
  • Fighting for equity is to fight for everyone to receive the education they need to be successful.

To delve in further, equity is:

  • Enduring
  • Requires self-awareness, self-review, and self-monitoring
  • Addresses advantages and disadvantages
  • Is needs-based
  • Offers tiered supports to all
  • Consistent
  • Decreases obstacles and barriers
  • Increases access to tools, resources, and opportunities
  • Enhances opportunities
  • Involves shared goals, values, beliefs, and perceptions
  • Acknowledges individuality
  • Provides opportunities for all students to thrive
  • Fosters inclusionary practices

Fostering the educational equality model would be ideal under circumstances in which all students and stakeholders held the same needs. However, districts, schools, and individual classrooms are composed of diverse learners requiring individualized supports to attain success.

Consider this:

A family of five comprised of a mother, father and triplets. The triplets include one girl and two boys. One of the boys has been diagnosed with autism.

¨ Equality would advocate the mother and father should give each child the exact same supports.  This means all three children would receive the same food, medication, schooling, attention, after school activities etc.

¨ Equity would involve the mother and father giving each child the support needed to be successful. This may mean one child receives medication, one child receives early intervention services, and each child participates in different after school activities corresponding with their current interests and skill level.

Similar scenarios can be seen in districts, schools, and classrooms with culturally diverse students, students with disabilities, students at risk, students from families with a low socioeconomic status, and students with other various, unique needs. No classroom is composed of 20+ students with the SAME. EXACT. NEEDS! This means for all students to achieve success, the tools, resources, and opportunities may be dispersed unequally. Yes, unequally.

Creating a truly equitable environment requires a great deal of effort. Student needs are constantly evolving, as is the educational system and the technology we use to implement instructions. Therefore, it requires an abundance of patience, persistence, and commitment to produce an equitable environment for all students. This type of individualized support, however, could revolutionize the educational system.

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