Thursday, May 08, 2014

How do schools promote equity among students?

"The term equity has come to mean the need to focus more directly not simply on equal opportunity, that is making sure that all kids have access to school...but really focus on outcomes and results...In schools that are really focused on equity, they are trying to meet the different needs of kids and do so in ways with a focus on outcome...Schools are set up to be the equalizers of opportunity, that was the mandate early on, that we would use education to promote merit and talent and so theoretically you want to make sure that all kids, regardless of background, have similar education opportunities..but that is not what we do..even within schools we exacerbate inequities...largely because it serves political purposes..."
Pedro Noguera is the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University with faculty appointments in the departments of Teaching and Learning and Humanities and Social Sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. In this interview he discusses the term equity and the forces that sometimes prevent schools from providing children with equitable outcomes. "Schools are set up to be the equalizers of opportunity," but often fail to do so.
"In this country (US) we tend to think that the more we do for excellence, the less we will be able to do for equity because in our mind there is only a small number of elite kids who are excellent and we are going to give more to them....and then we forget about the rest of the kids...When we combine excellence and equity what we are focused on is: how we make sure that all kids are exposed to high standards, quality teachers....What we really should be aiming for are kids who are learning ideas, knowledge and skills that they can apply to their own situation so that they can understand the utility of what they have learnt and how it is relevant to their life circumstances."

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