Equity and Equality

As educators, we’ve all seen the picture with the family watching the baseball game behind the fence and standing on crates high enough where everyone can see. Equality is giving everyone the same thing and promoting fairness while equity is giving everyone what they need in order to be successful. Last year, I used this same photo to explain to my trio how parenting can’t be always be equal and has to be equitable. They understood how their needs are different based on their ages, personalities, and interests. We only break the equity rule and move to equality when dealing with chocolate or Cheetos!

The Coronavirus has clearly messed up equality and equity! I am not worried about my three kids and their education as much as some other students in our district. My kids have access to stability, meals, the internet, several laptops, hundreds of books, and two parents with a variety of resources. Not all our students will have these opportunities over the next few months, yet I am expected to only offer learning which can be available to everyone.

Here we are during this uncertain time, and I am finding it difficult to know what I can and can’t offer my students without being unfair. The Matthew Effect keeps ringing in my ears. Our students won’t all get the same opportunities or experiences while learning at home. There are different rules and mandates state by state and district by district. The differences are there staring at me in the face, and I can’t change it. We sent our students home with enrichment packets and cannot enforce the work to be done. In the next state over, my niece is expected to attend online learning from 9-2 each day.

I am a firm believer in equity in classrooms, but we’re not in the classroom anymore!

Published by jwoodlaird

As a child, I lived next door to the library, my mom owned a bookstore during my middle school years, and I've spent the last 22 years teaching reading and writing. Loving books was no accident!

2 thoughts on “Equity and Equality

  1. You definitely have valid concerns. I am worried too. There are huge differences between what our students are getting at home during this time even though we gave them the same work. Beause our county is so remote and impoverished, it makes distance learning extra challenging. I wonder how many schools in WI still have a significant percentage of students who don’t have access to the internet at home? I don’t know what a good answer is and we didn’t have much time to prepare, but I am willing to bet most of my kiddos will be happy to come back to our classroom by the end of April. (If that happens)

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  2. That last line says it all. This virus, I hope, will magnify the absence of equity. I keep thinking about how it likely will broaden the achievement gap. I had conversations w/ two former colleagues yesterday about how to provide asynchronous learning, which is what our district is requiring, for speech class and while teaching Shakespeare. I have books I’d like to give to children whose parents can’t provide them, but I don’t even know how to find those kids.

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