Equity vs Equality
We keep dipping into this discussion, so let's dive into it.
I hear and read people using the words "Equitable" or "Equity" as if they were synonymous with "Equal" and "Equality". I continue to see these words used as if they were interchangeable. They are not synonyms. They are not interchangeable. They are, in fact, opposites.
Equality means providing each with the same.
Equity is providing each with what they need or deserve.
Since everyone needs or deserves something different, equity means providing each with something different, which is the opposite of providing each with the same.
Sometimes our goal is equality and sometimes our goal is equity. It is important that we know which we are working towards. Equal is an appropriate goal when things are standardized. Equity is the appropriate goal when we are presented with a diverse set of circumstances.
Sometimes it's a matter of perception. When you mow the lawn you cut a different amount off of each blade of grass (equity in the amount cut) to make them all the same height (equality in the amount left). Here's another example: All workers get paid $10 for each widget they produce. That's equal. Worker A produces 20 widgets and is paid $200. Worker B produces 30 widgets and is paid $300. That's equitable.
Since education is such a personal thing and student needs are driven by such a mind-boggling array of different influences, there is almost no way that, when it comes to education, equal will ever be equitable or, in many cases, desirable.
When students with disabilities are in class sizes of six while their typically developing peers are in class sizes of thirty, that is certainly not equal, but it may be equitable.
When students working beyond Standards get lessons that include elements from the grade level above their current grade level, and this instruction is not offered to their age peers working at grade level, that is not equal, but it is equitable.
Until we come to a shared perspective on the difference between equality and equity we cannot come together and advocate for each other. Until then we are each on our own and must struggle against each other for a share of a finite resource.
I think it's easy for people to see what their child needs and advocate for it. For that advocacy to have moral standing, however, it is necessary to also advocate for what other children need. This advocacy for other children must extend to include services which are not only different from what your child needs but might, at some time and in some way, require a compromise in meeting your child's needs completely.
Finally, even if we were to desire it, we simply can never achieve equality in education. Schools offer different programs, so schools will never be equal. Teachers are all different, so classrooms will never be equal. Teachers do not allocate their time with students with a stopwatch, so each child's experience can never be equal. Not only is equality not a desirable goal, it is not an attainable goal.
In a previous thread a commenter wrote:
"1. We are going to dramatically reduce class sizes in schools with high concentrations of students from historically underperforming groups. The goal is a maximum class size of 17."
It seems like you are advocating for "separate and not equal" systems and you will decided by your criteria who will get the betterment.To this commenter, I answer: "Yes. That is precisely what I am advocating."
Equal is not the goal; equity is the goal. So it doesn't matter if it isn't equal. Why in the world would we expect anything in education to be equal when the students arrive at the classroom with such a diverse set of knowledge and skills? Why in the world should all students get the same lesson whether it's the right lesson for them or not? Why in the world should all students get the same class size when some need smaller classes and some can do well with larger classes of students with less critical needs?