Equity and equality are words that are used interchangeably; however, they have unique characteristics from each other, but how can we bring these two words together? The above illustration gives a vivid example of the distinctions of the two. Equity gives you what you need. Equality ensures that everyone gets their equal share.
Equality= Sameness Equity=Fairness
Now that we understand the words, let's apply this to education while we look more deeply.
I worked in a large urban school district, particularly in a Title I school, where 99% of students qualified to eat free or reduced lunch. Who usually lives in these areas? Low-income minorities. When I would go across town to more affluent areas, it always irritated me to see the resources they had that my school didn't. Let me say that some resources, such as Promethean (Smart boards, textbooks) were similar, but we did not have all the bells and whistles that came along with it.
However, why did my side of town have a school in the hood and have to have resource officers frequent the staff parking lot throughout the day? Why were their demolished and abandoned buildings as our window view. Why did teachers have to scurry to leave campus before dark to avoid being a possible victim of criminal activity? Why did we not have high interest reading material for students to enjoy? Therefore, funding should not be the same. Some schools may need more than other schools.
Making resources available for every child and teacher, even if it means giving more to one over the other in order to equal the playing field is necessary--that is, only if we expect to provide a high-quality education. Many times teachers are playing catch up because students are not performing on grade level and are often several grade levels below. So should those schools receive equal funding as other schools who are more target and are excelling? No! This may mean hiring more teachers or keeping the ones we have and not sending them to other schools to even out the student: teacher ratio to fulfill some calculation guidelines. It doesn't make sense. I am a master teacher; however, there are difficulties in having 30 students in one class setting who are at different academic abilities. Some don't want to be there and behave as such which hinders instruction from flowing smoothly and others who are on grade level and/or high achievers mixed in with students who are struggling learners and/or several levels below their grade. We can't forget about our ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) learners, and we can't forget the students with social and emotional challenges--- all in one class setting! What am I going to do with that? How do I effectively teach and expect to reach all?
Is this equality? Hecks no! It's a disadvantage and we are only hurting ourselves because our children are our future, or so I thought....
It is a true misconception that these two words are twins. The truth about equality is that it's only right if we all start from the same place. Equity must be established before equality can stand a chance. Only then can equity be synonymous with equality.
I hope these few words find you well,