It's a word seen often in the news and social media in conjunction with diversity, equity, and belonging.
Some might say "it's trendy".
Some might think "it's just a phase, it'll pass."
But when it comes to providing children with equity to valuable educational experiences, it is neither trendy nor passing.
Equity recognizes the needs of every child. As an individual being. To be a success.
Because they all have different needs right?
Have different skills and strengths?
What's the difference between equity and equality?
Equality gives every child the same. Regardless of circumstance, social sector, disability, or a myriad of other factors.
Here are some examples of equality:
Every child at Shady Hills Elementary School received a new laptop.
Every child at Mountain Side Academy had the same amount of time to complete a quiz.
Every child a Sunset School was given the same materials to create a project.
Well... that sounds pretty good, right?
Let's take a look at these situations through the lens of equity rather than equality. Remember... with equity, everyone gets what they need in order to be successful.
Let's make these situations equitable!
1. Every child at Shady Hills Elementary School received a new laptop.
Sandra, JaVonte, and Emilia do not have internet access in their homes. In order for this to be equitable, they need to have internet access. Without internet access, the new laptop means nothing. To make their new technology opportunities equitable, the families of these children are provided with low- or no-cost internet to make it meaningful.
2. Every child at Mountain Side Academy had the same amount of time to complete a quiz using paper and a pencil.
Malik has an IEP which indicates extended time for quizzes and tests in order for him to be the most successful. For this quiz/assignment to be equitable, Malik is given an extra 10 minutes as indicated on his IEP.
Wilson has motor deficits that impair his ability to hold a pencil. He knows the material, but needs a different way to show what he knows. To make this equitable for Wilson, he needs access to an alternate pencil. This might look like speech to text feature to dictate into a laptop/tablet or eye gaze support depending on his ability and what is indicated on his IEP.
3. Every child a Sunset School was assigned to a small group and given the same materials to create a project.
Deandre has sensory concerns and needs alternate materials to use because the feel of felt is overwhelming to him. He will happily create the project to show what he knows, but he needs to use something else. Deandre was given the choice to use colored paper or fabric instead of felt. He is able to complete the project without the overwhelm.
Rachel struggles with focus when she works in a group with other children. She works best either by herself or with a partner. Rachel, and several other children in her class, were given an option to work alone or with a partner; for Rachel, working alone supports what is indicated on her IEP.
Not every child learns, engages or reacts the same. That is simply the nature of humans.
When we provide equity in education, every child can be included in learning in a way that makes sense to them.
The chalkboard is a bit outdated, but you get the gist...
For more information about supports and tools for equity in education as it relates to children with disabilities and learning differences, check out Inclusiveology.