Equity in education is absolutely critical for students to achieve their potential--but what does the term really mean?

Equity and equality are not the same


Equity in education is absolutely critical for students to achieve their potential--but what does the term really mean?

A rising tide raises all boats. However, it is hard to guarantee equal outcomes in education when students are not starting from the same place, nor are they exposed to the same quality of instruction. People throw around the term “equity in education” so frequently that it has lost significance. Inclusion and respect for diversity is a virtuous and necessary goal for public education, but what exactly is equity?

Writer Robert Longley explained how equity and equality have been misconstrued over the years. Longley states: “Equality refers to scenarios in which all segments of society have the same levels of opportunity and support. Equity extends the concept of equality to include providing varying levels of support based on individual need or ability.”

Writer Ellen Gutoskey added, “Equality has to do with giving everyone the exact same resources, whereas equity involves distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients.” Gutoskey points out, “equality is about dividing resources into matching amounts, and equity focuses more on dividing resources proportionally to achieve a fair outcome for those involved.” Gutoskey and Longley both put forth excellent analysis. However, the communist slogan is similar, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” was put forth by Karl Marx in Critique of the Gotha Program.

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