Education equity for today’s schools
Education equity addresses student need and transforms it into academic success for all students. This equity brings with it many implications for how schools will transform themselves.
In the past, schools patterned themselves after a factory model that provided a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to education. It was equal but not fair. Schools often didn’t consider student differences in culture, background, or learning needs. The diversity among the children we teach today calls for interventions that may or may not be equal but are always fair.
Education equity occurs when schools recognize the differences and needs among their student and respond appropriately to them.
Most community members advocate for equity in education, but they disagree on how to achieve it. Funding, resources, and academic expectations and outcomes all affect equity.
The first tenet of education equity is funding.
Inequities often exist among schools serving students of color and those from low-income families. The degree to which these inequities appear varies from state to state, depending on funding formulas. Most school districts receive equal funding based on student enrollment or attendance, neither of which addresses equity. As a result, schools may receive funding that is equal but not necessarily fair — or what students need.
The difference in formulaic per-pupil spending can be several thousand dollars. This funding method can leave students behind rather than level the playing field.
Regardless of race or income, students must have equitable access to the resources they need.
To assure resource equity, education must address not only supplies and materials but also access to technology. Most importantly, all students need access to high quality teachers. Schools seeking education equity need the means by which to attract and retain teachers from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Academic expectations, practices, and outcomes
Education equity does not water down learning standards. It helps all students meet them. Schools must uphold rigorous academic expectations and then help students achieve them.
To provide education equity, all schools must commit to using research-based pedagogical techniques. Unfortunately, hands-on science, technology, and engineering projects are not standard practice in all schools. They should be. Makerspace access and participation in project-based learning encourage equity, whereas filling out worksheets does not.
By embracing flexibility in teaching practices, educators are able to address individual student needs. Education equity creates a balance between how schools function and what individual students need for academic success. Instruction demands flexibility and fluid design. It adapts to the current needs of students.
Equity education in action
Education equity is the result of visionary leadership.
Teachers advocating for education equity must raise awareness among fellow faculty members. It’s how to bring everyone into an agreement that our students must have what they need to be academically successful. Those needs will not be the same among all students.
According to Terry Heick, self-expression undermines how education works. Schools:
- Provide a curriculum with common knowledge
- Incorporate inclusive learning models for all students
- Create authentic involvement opportunities for family members, regardless of culture and language.
Education equity is the result of cultural responsiveness. It does not sacrifice the individual; it celebrates the individual.
By embracing education equity , we empower all students, regardless of their differences. Education equity is the springboard to higher student achievement by removing obstacles, personalizing learning, and providing resources to achieve academic success.
That’s something everyone can support.