Equity in education is a goal every student and educator can actively support. All educators want to see students have an equal opportunity to succeed. However, some find it challenging to characterize the exact meaning of equity in the school system. Is it about results, assets, subsidizing, or academic support?
Understanding the meaning of equity requires taking a deeper look at all of these important aspects. The principles of equity can be viewed from both the student and educator's perspectives. Students are seeking access to education, resources, and opportunities to grow. Educators are continually learning how to make each student's experience meaningful and effective.
What Does "Equity" Really Mean?
There are several ways to define equity. If someone were to search for the meaning of equity in the dictionary, he or she would find the following definition: "Justice according to the natural law or right; freedom from bias or favoritism.” When discussing equity in education, it is usually analogous to “fairness.” But, practically speaking, what does this resemble in the classroom, library, and faculty offices?
Equity in the school system involves implementing balance and value for students. Balance means that each student is treated similarly in his or her learning journey. Value means that educators understand how to make each student's experience purposeful and intentional.
Why is an Equitable Education Important?
Equity will enable students to feel a sense of belonging. When students are placed in an environment with equal opportunities, students are encouraged to work hard and to accomplish his or her goals.
Every student pursuing an education and a career deserves the chance to prosper. Although many school systems make strong efforts to promote equality among the student body, it is still difficult for schools to implement equitable practices on a daily basis.
How Can Schools Promote an Equitable Education?
First, the school can create an environment that encourages students to voice their needs. Educators and faculty members can take the time to listen to students. Then, after recognizing what will improve the overall educational experience, the school can take steps to create programs and initiatives that focus on the students.
For example, faculty and staff members can administer surveys for students to indicate where he or she needs further assistance and support. The Dean of Students can also hold a monthly meeting that allows students to voice their questions, suggestions, and concerns. Educators can focus on creating strong connections with students to help them feel safe and valued in the classroom.
The Positive Impacts of Implementing Equitable Practices in Schools
Cherry Creek School District in Colorado utilized Thinking Maps and the Path to Proficiency Program to help students who are English Language Learners (ELLs). These tools assisted students with cognitive learning and critical thinking skills. The school indicated that the Thinking Maps assisted ELLs with breaking language barriers. ELL Program Coordinator Meg Lucero said, "Creating the Maps is something that all students can be successful with, regardless of their language skills. The Maps let them show what they can do and engage in meaningful classroom interactions with their peers."
How does your school provide value and an equitable education to its students? Leave a comment below to share your ideas.
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Joseline J. Hardrick is the Founder and President of Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc. She is also an author, professor, and lawyer and resides in Tampa Bay, Florida. Guest bloggers are students in the Journey to Esquire® Scholarship & Leadership Program.