Equity is going to be the downfall of education

In a perfect world, all children would go to school with equal abilities, motivation, and resources.  But that is hardly the case in this country, as teachers have long known.  Rather than accept the reality and proceed accordingly, many public schools deny the majority the right to a quality education because a minority lacks it (“Berkeley Schools Leave Every Child Behind,” The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 3).

I’m referring now to the decision by some school districts in California, Kentucky and Washington state not to go online in the wake of the coronavirus because not all students have access to the internet at home.  In other words, the majority must be deprived because of the minority.

I’m not advocating turning our backs on those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.  On the contrary, I believe we have a moral obligation to help them achieve.  But what about the rights of the majority?  As long as we continue to sacrifice their right to a quality education, we are undermining the future of this country.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Equity is going to be the downfall of education”

  1. Completely agree that school systems should provide as much education to as many students as possible and that some students’ inability to access on-line education should not prevent the school system from providing on-line education to the students (the overwhelming majority) who can access on-line education.

    At a minimum, a school system could provide hard-copy instructional packets via mail to those students who lack on-line access but for whom the school system has a mailing address. Not perfect — the hard-copy instructional packet would probably not be as educationally effective as the on-line instruction + it would not work for most homeless students.

    The approach should be: “Do the best you can for each student” rather than “Do for each student only what you can do for all students”.

    Under the latter approach (and forgetting about the coronavirus situation), a school system would have to blindfold all the sighted students so that the school system was not providing a better education for the sighted students than the school system was providing for the blind students.

    Actually, the idea — that the inability of some students to access on-line instruction requires that a school system not provide on-line instruction during the coronavirus crisis — is such a dumb idea that it suggests the school system has some alternate motivation. For example, perhaps the school system cannot figure out how to provide on-line instruction or the professional staff are too lazy (or too homebound) to do so.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Democratization in education is a worthy goal, but not when it deprives the most able students from achieving their full potential. The army used to have a TV ad that said: “Be all you can be … in the army.” That reflected reality because not everybody possesses the same ability and motivation. Yet we persist in the fiction that they can all perform at the same level once given propoer support.

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