Defining “Equity”: Every Child, Every Day

In December, the blogs on our site will focus on how we can build equitable schools. I’m deep into my first draft of Coaching for Equity, which will be in your hands in September 2020, and so this topic is on my mind now more than ever. 

Equity has become a word that’s far too easily and loosely used—so I want to offer you the definition that I use. 

Every Child, Every Day 

Educational equity means that every child receives whatever she/he/they need to develop to her/his/their full academic and social potential and to thrive, every day. By “thrive,” I mean academically as well as social-emotionally. Every child has a right to feel loved and cared for and to feel that they belong to a community. Emotional well-being is as important as academic success in this definition of educational equity.

Educational equity means there is no predictability of success or failure that correlates with any social or cultural factor—a child’s educational experience or outcomes is not predictable because of their race, ethnicity, linguistic background, economic class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical and cognitive ability, or any other socio-political identity marker. Here are some examples of educational equity:

  •     A Latinx child who enters kindergarten speaking only Spanish performs as well on reading assessments in third grade as their native English-speaking counterparts.
  •     An African American teen is just as likely as his white or Asian classmates to enroll and thrive in an engineering program in high school.
  •     Girls are equally represented in advanced math courses—and are equally as successful as their male classmates.
  •     A Latinx male with a learning difference in Oakland, CA., or in the Bronx is just as likely to graduate from high school on time as his white counterparts and is prepared to pursue the career or college path of his choice.
  •     There’s proportionality in the demographics of kids sent to the office: if a district’s African American population is 20%, then at most 20% of office referrals are for African American students.

Beyond the predictability of success and failure, educational equity means that every child is seen for who they truly are and their unique interests and gifts are surfaced and cultivated. For every child to cultivate their unique gifts, children need access to an extensive range of learning opportunities, activities, and material. This means that when Prentis Jr. discovers in first grade that his love and skill for drawing surmounts all others, he has the opportunity and encouragement to pursue this passion. This means that in fourth grade, when Thui’s verbal abilities are recognized, her public speaking skills are developed. Education is a vehicle to self-realization and freedom.

         Educational equity means every child, every day. Period.

         And yes, this is a high bar: Every child.

         And it is an attainable goal.

For now, here are a few other blogs I’ve written to take you farther into how to coach for equity.