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From the article linked below, "The Difference Between Educational Equality, Equity, and Justice… and Why It Matters" by Joseph Levitan.
1) What is an equal education?
Equality is about SAMENESS. It promotes fairness and justice by giving everyone the same thing, like the same education. But this only works when students all start from the same place.
2) What is an equitable education?
Equity is about FAIRNESS. It promotes fairness and justice by providing everyone with access to the same opportunities. Certain differences and/or histories may create barriers to participation and educational equity means that students should be given the education and support they need to achieve desired outcomes. Some may need more, others may need less.
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Both of these ideas make sense at first glance, and they clearly connect to ideas of fairness, but unfortunately these ideas may be used to orient policy approaches that produce don't produce the desired results. Although they are seemingly similar terms, the concepts of equality, equity, and justice orient thinking about policy in different and important ways that concept carries different assumptions about students and the goals of a policy outcome.
"Although an equity orientation is more sensitive to the differences and diversity between students, equity assumes that there is a sameness of the 'good' to be achieved in education. This 'good' could be everyone graduating from high school, or everyone reaching certain testing benchmarks. But the goal has to be the same for all students, because that is what makes reaching equity possible from a policy standpoint. What happens when, for example, a student does not want to watch baseball? Will policy force that child to watch baseball?"
3) What is a just education?
A just education sees students as agents in their own education with inherent capacities and the right to pursue their own goals. Toward this end, education focuses on making sure each student is prepared to make informed, knowledgeable decisions and has the opportunity to develop the skills and abilities necessary to pursue and achieve their goals based on their values and their communities’ values.
A just education does not assume the same means or the same ends for every student "Implicit in the idea of justice is that education is about ensuring that historical injustices are addressed, such as a historical lack of access to quality education faced by poor and marginalized students."
"A focus on practices, policies, and instruction that create an environment of excellence where student success and empowerment is a cultural norm. We commit to access, inclusion, fairness, and the removal of barriers as pillars of equity in education."
Equity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement
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