Arguably the most famous quote in the Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Dr. Jarvis Sanford of Chicago believes this quote sums up perfectly the American ideal of educational equity. Educational equity is the belief that all students regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, gender, family income level or family background deserve access to the same quality of educational resources. Unfortunately, educational equity is a goal that has yet to be achieved throughout the country.
Dr. Sanford of Chicago, an educator with over twenty years of experience in urban education, is a fierce advocate for educational equity. As a teacher, principal and district administrator he has worked with urban and rural districts across the country to ensure that all students regardless of zip code are given the same access to resources that other school districts receive. Educational equity is a truly American ideal because it calls upon an even playing field for our youth so that when the time comes for them to compete in the workforce, they will be judged solely based on their merits and unique skillsets.
Dr. Sanford works tirelessly to provide an even playing field for all students. He appreciates your reading this article, because actionable changes in the form of educational equity start with public awareness. The more citizens who understand the problems that are associated with a lack of equity in the classroom, the more likely it is to be talked about during our political elections at every level. Awareness helps create change as policy leaders are then held accountable. Dr. Sanford believes that achievement gaps at secondary levels of education are often predicted by the level of education students were afforded at the elementary level.
A lack of educational equity in American schools is destructive for numerous reasons. A lack of equity creates a scenario where the odds are stacked against students regardless of how much effort they are willing to put into their studies. American success stories are often told based on students overcoming their socio-economic status and creating a better life for themselves and their families through hard work. A lack of access to standard educational resources can be truly damaging to the future potential of young students. Education plays a pivotal role in the future success of any country. As the world economy shrinks due to globalization, the country should want to do everything in its power to unlock the potential of all American students.
The importance of educational equity starts at the Pre-K level. Younger students demand more attention than their older counterparts. Many schools in affluent areas will provide public schooling with one adult teacher to every six or so students. This allows all students to get attention and educators to get a strong handle on the educational needs of every child. This individual attention often leads to individual education plans that spot red flags and ensure students have access to any special resources they may need to progress in their educational journey. Poorer school districts are often left with one educator for classrooms of thirty or more students. It creates an impossible task for the educator and a lack of personal interaction for the student. A love of learning must be nurtured from an early age and basic access to educators is a great start.
Many schools that do not have the capability of offering the highest quality education will hold students back to help them catch up to their peers. This is not always the answer. For starters, students in the same system will still be receiving the same lower grade education. Additionally, a lot of academic success is tied into self-confidence. When students are held back due to academic failings, they can grow despondent and angry. These two emotions can prove destructive to their lives in and out of the classroom.
Dr. Sanford will continue to lobby for an increase in public funding for primary level education in underprivileged communities. This funding can help all students get access to the tools they need to unlock their potential and live out their own American dream. While no one issue will solve all social economic issues within the country, educational equity is pivotal to a better tomorrow for the youth of our country.