(DISCOVERY) – K-12 public education nationwide is fixated on the term “equity.” It’s been added to many public school mission statements and core values, but the positive-sounding term means something more — and something more destructive — than providing equal opportunity for students.
Identifying and labeling students based on their socioeconomic and ethnic or race group dominates the education conversation, with group academic performance based on these demographics the frequent focus. Any differences in academic performance between demographic groups (especially based on race) are labeled “achievement gaps,” the remedy for which is more equity. But what does equity really mean?
Under the guise of “equity,” the goal of helping all children have an opportunity for success has now become a demand for uniformity in student performance outcomes. Vice President Kamala Harris pushes this redefinition of equity, which traditionally has meant, according to Merriam-Webster, “freedom from bias or favoritism.” In a November 1, 2020, tweet, she stated, “There’s a big difference between equality and equity.” According to Harris, equality is problematic because it suggests “everyone should get the same amount.” Instead, she advocates “equitable treatment,” which to her “means we all end up in the same place.” In essence, Harris advocates for a system in which disparities are eliminated by treating people not equally, but with favoritism or bias — a view that conflicts with the concept of equity as it has traditionally been defined and accepted.
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