Understanding Equity in Education
To achieve equity in education, we first must understand what it is. Equity is the pursuit of fairness and justice, used to create balance where there was originally imbalance. This imbalance typically exists in access to resources or opportunities. Equity in education means that all children receive what they need to develop their full academic and social potential.
Educators and students bring their perspectives to the classroom, including different:
A “typical” student doesn’t exist. Each child’s set of circumstances and needs to meet their full potential are unique. With this in mind, to achieve equity in education, communities must actively work to break down existing barriers and inequalities that exist in our school systems to give students the personalized learning experience they each need to thrive.
[Link to the equity page once published – recommending to link to the first paragraph, third sentence, where “equity in education” is first mentioned OR farther down where we get into the Why]
Why Equity in the Classroom is Important
Often, schools that are a part of under-resourced areas or historically-marginalized communities don’t have equal access to scholastic resources or opportunities, creating imbalance or inequity in education. For teachers to be as effective as possible in the classroom, they need updated textbooks and technology, as well as access to enough materials for all students to participate actively.
Unfortunately, when inequity persists within a school system, teachers are limited in what they can offer their students—and students suffer the consequences. Inequity can lead to learning gaps, sliding grades, and slowed grade progression–all of which significantly impact a child education.
When students receive equitable access to educational opportunities, there is no limit to what they can accomplish, and their success in school now will lead to better student outcomes.
Ways to Achieve Equity in Education
For Educators and Administrators:
- Start with Yourself
Challenge yourself to address your role in the current education system. Are you working to create a more equitable school system? Where do your identities, biases, and assumptions come into play? How can you shift your mindset and practices to ensure your students receive equitable access to education?
- Engage Students, Families, and Communities as Full Partners
Each of these groups are just as invested, if not more invested, in the success of their or their students’ growth. Remember that their voices and input are valuable and should be acknowledged. Consulting each of these different perspectives, you can gain invaluable insights into creating a more equitable learning environment.
- Champion Equity For Your Students
Be a leader in this area, and let your actions speak. Teach students about equity, the importance of equitable education, and how they can advocate for themselves. Share your thoughts in meetings within your school or at community gatherings to ignite the conversation about what your students need to succeed.
- Find Innovative Teaching Styles
Not all students learn the same and many students learn at different paces. Some learn better online vs. offline, others need accommodations due to a learning barrier. Each student and their needs are unique. Finding an innovative approach to teaching can help ensure that students receive the best fit for their learning.
- Create an Equitable Classroom/School Environment
Build a better classroom or school environment by simply listening and using that information to make changes. Even small shifts toward equity in the classroom or school can have a lasting, real-life change for your students.
For Parents/Guardians and Community Members:
- Start with Yourself
Just like educators and administrators, challenge yourself to address your role in the current education system. Are you working to join or rally your community to create a more equitable school system? Where do your identities, biases, and assumptions come into play? How can you get involved and begin conversations with your children about their experiences? How can you begin conversations with your kids’ teachers and school leaders to help ensure they receive equitable access to education?
- Engage Teachers and Administrators as Full Partners
Educators spend a lot of their time helping students grow. Whether that time is structuring curriculum, attending conferences to learn about new teaching methods or in-classroom instruction, teachers are committed to student success and can be a great partner in the pursuit of equity in education.
- Continue to Learn
As you learn more about equity, current school system practices and policies, and how to become an advocate for equitable education, remember that there is always new information to find and avenues to explore. You can only act on possibilities and opportunities that you know exist. The journey doesn’t end, but the hardest step is the first. In reading this, you’ve taken that initial step and you can take the next.
- Use Your Voice
Your voice and the voices of your children are powerful, valuable, and deserving of recognition. Be curious. Ask your students about their experience in the classroom, ask educators about the ways that they are practicing equity in their teaching, and ask how you can be involved in bringing about positive change. Attending school and community meetings can also offer an opportunity for you to speak out about the need for equity in education.
- Patience Is Key
Systemic change takes time, and doesn’t happen overnight.
- Advocate for the Change You Want to See
Even small efforts made consistently can make a big difference over time.
- You Are Not Alone—Encourage Each Other
For all those fighting for equity in education, no matter where you are in the journey, remember you are not alone in your efforts. Encourage each other, and don’t give up.
- Share Your Knowledge
Share this knowledge with those in your circles so that they can join your efforts toward educational equity for all students.
Equity in education empowers children, their teachers, and their communities to bring balance, justice, and fairness to their school system so that all students can reach their full academic and social potential.
Join our growing collective of parents and caregivers, educators, community leaders, and philanthropists dedicated to transforming Atlanta into a place where every student in every community has access to a great K-12 public education.