Equity. It means many different things to many different people in many different situations.

To me, equity is everything in education. I believe education is the bridge to opportunity and possibility. That regardless of class, race, ethnicity, upbringing or any other factor…a quality education has the power to give every individual a fighting chance at achieving their dreams.

So when we talk about innovation, it has to be innovating for equity.

When we discuss engagement, we should be looking at equitable engagement across all classes and levels.

And when we look at technology’s role in teaching and learning, it should be based on a purpose centered on equity.

I’ve been lucky to learn and work with Dr. Bob Jarvis – the Director of Equity Leadership Initiatives at UPenn Center for Educational Leadership – this past year through consortiums focused on Equity & Excellence.

It’s been a wonderful and eye-opening experience to talk with teachers and school leaders in all kinds of educational settings. I’ve had biases that I didn’t even know I had to be challenged through our group conversations around the topic of equity.

Last week I was able to give a short podcast interview on what I believe. It sums up my philosophy on teaching, learning, and school in 5 minutes. It’s titled, “Equity Is Everything”, and I hope you give it a quick listen (and let me know what you think in the comments).

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  • JMacK says:

    I see it differently. Education is all about equity is synonymous in my mind to educating for mediocrity. We need a variety of educational models and types, both private and public schools, in order to explore what educational designs are most instructive. The efficacy of education is premised in my mind on a diversity of models from which to learn and evolve. If there exists an elitist model that has something to contribute to the debate and to the evolution of educational theory premised on greater success for all learners, so be it. I am a product of the environs in which I have studied and learned and I have seen other models than the equitable status quo and I find the equality of mainstream education sadly lacking in many regards. One size does not fit all and consumers of educational products deserve to shop around because if they don’t they get what they deserve. Without competition in the educational market it suffers the same fate as all monopolies: stagnation and sub-optimal performance.
    To say that equity is all there is to say about education (and I know you are not saying that) would be to say that all students should have a teacher of similar abilities teaching all students the same material. I took the tough courses from the toughest Profs. Hence I can think. My students learn to think. That would not have happened if all educational institutions were the same and all teachers were the same. Strictly speaking equity in education is anathema to true education in specific and to educational choice and freedom to make educated choices in general.

  • David Young says:

    In the context of Equity in Education we frequently hear about prejudice based on age, gender, background, race etc. An area that is rarely explored is discrimination based on ability. In many quarters it is taken as read that a well performing student is automatically more deserving of teachers’ time than a less well performing student. This is a frequently found form of institutionalised lack of equity. Why should ability be the subject of different treatment any more than say gender. I would like to hear other people’s thoughts on this but my impression is that less able students get less attention and we should work to correct this. It is not simply an economic decision about putting resources where they are most effective. Issues of equity have always been argued against on economic grounds. Whaddayathink?

  • Garreth Heidt says:

    Great post, A.J. Between last year and this year I’ve attended about 4 different conferences/workshops at UPenn’s Delaware Valley Consortium for Equity and Excellence. At present I teach a gifted-only 9th and 10th grade English Class. How strange it is to attend these conferences where the talk is of equity and equal access…to listen to Scott Barry Kaufmann who was in special education classes until high school when he gained access to the higher level classes. The state of Pennsylvania has a cadre of talented and forceful advocates that push agendas for gifted-only education programs k-12. I understand this push, and I hear Steve Jobs’ argument for hiring “A-level people” because such people really only thrive around others of their ilk, but the work force is a different system (or perhaps I mean it ought to be a different system) than education, where we ought to offer as much as we can (IEPs for all?) to our students, regardless of background. But we don’t. The economic ends of public education usurps at all turns the personal ends and drives the system’s shape and function, distorting it into a training ground for a workforce that is, in actuality, not much like what education currently thinks it ought to be like.

    I know this disconnect is what you, A.J., and others like Don Wettrick, Paul Solarz, Greg Couros, and so many others are working to overcome. Your post here on equity offers a strong argument for self-examination (I’m there, too!) and reflection. It reminds me of an image I saw on a facebook post recently:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gqf5gNMoqrA/VqlK3hhTuSI/AAAAAAAABIw/R5sVh8cTPOY/s1600/equity.png

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