Friday Shares (3-3-23) – Equity added to the naughty list

I caught this post from the Bright Morning Team’s Instagram account and was definitely taken aback by the fact that the word equity has been added to the “naughty list”  in some school districts. This situation really isn’t much of a surprise after hearing multiple people explain that they equality to equity.  Just a look at the definitions of the two words starts to paint a picture as to why we need equity before we can get to equality.  

Per the Oxford Languages Dictionary, the term equality is defined as “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.” Equity, on the other hand, is defined as “the quality of being fair and impartial.” From an educational standpoint, equity means each child receives what they need to develop to their full academic and social potential.  This is a very common practice in many schools where students receive interventions for reading, math, or social-emotional learning to help them build fluency and skills where there may be gaps. 

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the word woke and the importance of looking at the history of the word and why its connotation is changing in some circles. It’s important to ask similar questions with the word equity. What has this word meant historically and why are we looking at it differently? It is hard not to imagine that if equity is something that is being pushed aside then those promoting this would prefer inequity because the fact is that if we cannot openly discuss equity then we are certainly not going to be undertaking actions that can start to tackle inequities. 

The whole discussion on equity reminds me of an article from the Fall 2021 issue of Learning for Justice by Cory Collins titled THE CURB-CUT EFFECT AND CHAMPIONING EQUITY.  The article highlights the activism in the early 1970’s that led to curb cuts being poured onto sidewalks and how it benefited both individuals in wheelchairs and many others. The article also discusses the efforts of activist and policy expert Angela Glover Blackwell who highlighted the curb-cut effect as a framework for understanding the community-wide benefits of any innovation specifically designed to achieve equity for an underserved group.

The fact that we are even entertaining thoughts about equity being a negative word also reminds me of the research of psychologist and author Jonathan Metzl from his book Dying of Whiteness. Metzl’s research shows concretely that “American human frailty is in part man-made, rendered all the more tenuous not by invasions of them, the immigrants or pathogens, but by political choices made by us, the white electorate.” He asks the following question in his conclusion: “What might American politics look like if white humility was seen not as a sellout or capitulation but as an honest effort to address seemingly intractable social issues?”

Circling back to the Bright Morning Team’s post, if you find yourself in a district that is suddenly skittish about using the word equity, the Bright Morning Team is offering scholarships for educators in these districts.

Speaking of terms many white people don’t want to hear, there was a lot to read about Systemic Inequities (dare I say racism) over the last week:

In 2022, Black farmers were persistently left behind from the USDA’s loan system

‘Rampant issues’: Black farmers are still left out at USDA – POLITICO

Fighting to Grow: Black farmers continue to battle systemic discrimination

Farming While Black, Sowing the Seeds of Racial Discrimination in Farming | The Takeaway | WNYC Studios

Report: Black married couples face heavier tax penalties : NPR

Long prison sentences are cruel and ineffective: here’s the proof – The Boston Globe

Mainstream education often neglects Black history. TikTok, Freedom Schools and other resources are bridging the gap.

A few other things I read this past week

#TeachTruth Syllabus – Zinn Education Project

Right-Wing Campaign to Block Teaching for Social Justice – Zinn Education Project

How to Talk About Book Bans With Friends, Library Patrons, and More: Book Censorship News, February 17, 2023

Dr. Seuss is a beloved icon who also drew some extremely racist stuff

The ‘Dilbert’ Cartoonist and the Durability of White-Flight Thinking – The New York Times

Lastly, one short video

Bryan Cranston on why Make America Great Again can be construed as racist

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