The Importance of Equity in Education
When we talk about education, it is important to make a distinction between equity and equality. Equality would mean allocating the same level of attention and resources to all schools. Taken at face value, it’s hard to argue against the fairness of everyone receiving equal treatment. However, true fairness through equality is only possible if everyone is starting from the same place.
There are 13,598 K-12 school districts throughout the U.S. according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and that number represents a wide range of socio-economic needs. Providing the same resources to all schools without regard for individual needs makes little sense if the end goal is overall fairness.
Fairness through equity looks a little different, addressing individual levels of need on a case-by-case basis. Equity in education is achieved when steps are taken to ensure every student has the level of support they specifically need to be successful.
Barriers to Equity
Standing in the way of equity and student success are barriers ranging in scope and severity. For example, a school’s location determines a lot about its level of funding. A recent Department of Education study found that 45 percent of schools in high-poverty areas received less state and local funding than other schools in their district.
Another barrier facing students is a lack of consistent, quality staff in the classroom, negatively impacting student achievement. A report by The Urban Institute’s National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research found that “when schools are ranked by the fraction of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, schools in the poorest quartile averaged almost one extra sick day per teacher than schools in the highest income quartile,” and that these absences “are associated with lower student achievement in elementary grades.” A lack of consistency in a student’s education represents a barrier to their success and can lead to that student suffering academically.
In an ideal world, all students would have the same opportunity for success regardless of where they attend school. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case. Students across the nation face barriers to success that simply do not exist in other areas.
True equity in education cannot exist until these barriers are addressed. As leaders in educational personnel and management solutions, ESS strives to overcome these barriers and provide the best possible support for each of its partner districts, tailoring services to their individual needs and those of their students.
By offering live online instruction through its Proximity Learning division, ESS is helping schools across the nation overcome the barrier of geographic location. This innovative solution provides a quality education even when students and teachers can’t be in the same place, bridging the gap between classrooms in need and high-quality educators.
By analyzing each partner district’s absence data, ESS is able to forecast individual staffing needs and respond proactively to those needs. ESS also uses this absence data to mitigate the frequency of absences occurring in the first place, offering administrators suggestions for changes to their policies.
Each ESS partner district benefits from a substantial pool of available substitutes and a targeted recruiting campaign based on the specific needs of each school. ESS recruits from its partner districts’ communities, selecting the most qualified candidates not only based on their credentials, but also their familiarity with the students with whom they will be working. Key to this recruiting approach is ESS’ ability to cater to the districts they serve, offering things such as multi-lingual training programs and incentives for substitutes who work often and in schools of greater need.
ESS also understands that supporting the local community is essential to supporting student success. Participating in coat drives and backpack drives, running contests to engage students, and partnering with local organizations are just a few of the ways ESS throws its support behind its partner districts’ communities.
The Next Step
Though ESS is a leader in the nation’s ongoing effort to ensure equity in education for all students, they haven’t stopped there. Their team is already looking toward the next step — removing the barriers that make equity a necessity in the first place. While these barriers continue to exist, true equity in education may never be possible. But, ESS continues to invest daily in achieving equity for all student education and, someday, contributing to bringing down these barriers altogether.