"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why Equity Matters in Education

I need not drag my daughter in the morning to go to school. She always looks forward to spending time with her friends and teacher. School is definitely a second home for her. The LA Times also talks about another young girl, Giuliana Tapia. This girl became scared of school after finding out that she was among the few who could not sing the ABCs in her class.

Above copied from the LA Times
Academic gaps can be seen as early as kindergarten. In the case of Giuliana, with a dedicated and thoughtful teacher combined with parents who recognize what the situation needs, the child appears to be able to catch up. The photo above says it all. Giuliana finds welcoming arms in teacher Maryellen Whittingham. It should be obvious that it is necessary for a school climate to be inviting to young children. Otherwise, a lot of effort and time are going to be spent just to start a lesson.

Children learn with other children inside a classroom. It is sort of an ecosystem, no child is really isolated from the others. A child who is left behind may easily take away time and attention from a teacher, preventing that teacher to do other things like teaching the class. Giuliana is lucky that in her school there is a literary specialist, Maryellem Whittingham, who can spot students who are in need and can provide additional support. This is often not the case when there are not enough teachers to address all the needs of the students. This is one reason why equity matters in public basic education.

A recent publication in Child Development shows that when quality preschool education is provided to children in low-income families, scores in reading and math improve. And the improvement is seen throughout the elementary years.

Above copied from
Dodge, K. A., Bai, Y., Ladd, H. F. and Muschkin, C. G. (2016), Impact of North Carolina's Early Childhood Programs and Policies on Educational Outcomes in Elementary School. Child Dev. doi:10.1111/cdev.12645
The above data include a million elementary school pupils in North Carolina. The state has two preschool programs: Smart Start and More at Four, both are intended for low income families. The important thing to note is that the above graph corresponds to all students, not just those who have gone through either Smart Start or More at Four. The improvements are seen in schools where these programs have been funded. And all children based on average scores appear to have higher math and reading scores.

Equity, unlike competition, lifts everyone up. It enhances the school climate and allows for every child to grow and progress.



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