"I Still Have A Dream": Equity In Education

"I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream." These were words spoken in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. At that moment, after about a hundred years after emancipation, we were all made aware that the bank of justice was way behind schedule as Black Americans were still "sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination". But more than fifty years after those words were spoken, the dream had remained elusive. Aspirations come early in life. Parents wish nothing but the best for their children. Yet, we continue to charter the course of so many children based on their skin color or socio-economic status. Martin Luther King's dream can never be achieved without equity in education. 

Above copied from History

More than a year ago, a panel in New York City took the bold step of recommending that advanced education programs, such as those designed for "gifted" or "talented" students, be made available to all. These special academic programs actually contain very good elements of education that should be provided to all. Since minorities and low income families are dramatically underrepresented in these programs, advanced academic programs therefore contribute to the lingering shackles of discrimination in the country. Yvette Jackson, a member of the New York City panel and an adjunct professor at Teacher's College at Columbia University, leaves us with the following lessons on why gifted education should be given to all:

Advanced academic programs are often tailored with the commitment that students are capable of high academic achievement. With education for all, this must be the guiding principle for all students. When we prejudge children based on the limited assessments we have and deprive them access to a more enriched curriculum, we are simply magnifying the unfavorable circumstances these children are experiencing. 

Advanced academic programs that are catered only to a selected group students likewise create teachers that teach only the "gifted" students. This segregation among teachers create two classes of teachers, both are limited with the strategies they learn from their respective classrooms. Teaching is mostly learning from students and with exposure to a narrow class of students, developing teachers' skills becomes out of reach.

Advanced academic programs often come with additional opportunities and experiences. Gifted programs come with field trips, visits to museums, enriching after-school activities, and better facilities. The dearth in these opportunities is one main reason why low-income and minority children appear less able and excited about their education. 

Equity in education means education for all. Only with this realization can we see our dream become reality.