Fair vs. Equal

“Sixty years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, far too many of our students remain trapped in lower-performing schools as a result of their socioeconomic status,” said Tisch. “The Court in Brown found that ‘separate educational facilities are inherently unequal’ – yet more than half a century later, we still see tremendous disparities in our schools along socioeconomic lines.

Fair means giving a student exactly what they need to be successful. Equal means being the same across the board and everyone receiving the same thing. Often times educators and politicians mix up the difference between fair and equal and think they are giving students the best education possible. In Virginia, their is a huge gap in education when it comes to being fair. Some school districts receive way more resources than other school districts. Some students have access to technology on a daily and regular bases when other do not. Funding is disbursed unequally but essentially unfairly. Schools that perform the worse should have the most funding, resources and programs inside of those building to assure every child is successful.

When students are in class, everybody should not be treated equally yet they should be treated fair. For example: if John passes out and requires CPR, if I am being equal I would not be able to perform CPR on John unless I perform CPR on all of the students in the class because all students would need to be treated exactly the same. One can’t get more help than the other. But the other students don’t require CPR only John. John should receive CPR because it’s fair to give him CPR. Remember fair is Giving a student what they need to be successful. John will receive CPR because that is what he needs to live. (Lavoie, 1990)

So, my question is: Is it fair that central Virginia does not receive reliable, adequate and dependable resources for education compared to the counties further north? Is it fair that students who come from low socio-economic homes be mandated to attend a failing school because of their zip code? What if that child has never failed an SOL? But they have to deal with the unsafe environments the system has quarantined this population to be educated in. Sectioned them off from society and realia (real life interactions) so they only know what is in their public housing community? We don’t need separate but equal. We need separate but fair. Give all students computers to go home and access research. Give all students programs inside of the school to teach reading. Provide exceptional qualified educators in all schools for all schools to have success not just the wealthier family schools or schools in weather communities.

The battle continues across the district, state and country. We are not treating education and kids fairly in public school with government funds. The students from low class homes suffer most, but this is not anything new to education or society. Why do we label them as mediocre before they spread their wings to fly?


References:Lavoie, R. (Director). (1990). How difficult can this be? [videocassette] F.A.T. City Learning Disability Workshop [Motion picture]. PBS Video.


About antonioguilford

Exceptional Education Teacher
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