Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Equity, Equality and Adequacy -- Let's at least debate with a common vocabulary

Texas is spot-on when it comes to differentiating between equity and adequacy of public school funding. As they point out, "equity is not the same as equality." Perhaps Michigan and particularly Governor Snyder, can learn something from the Lone Star state advocates of fair funding for public school children?


Equity vs Adequacy

Equity: n. fairness 
Adequacy: n. the minimum amount to be sufficient 
Excellent: adj. of the highest or finest quality

Education Equity

For many years in Texas, there were huge differences in the amount of money available to educate children in public schools. Before 1995, some of the wealthiest school systems spent $10,000 per student and had low school tax rates. Poorer school systems often had as little as $3,000 per pupil and had much higher taxes.

What is at stake?
See photos and stats on Texas schooling before and after fair funding.

or an equitable system, means that all communities – whether rich or poor...have equal access to similar amounts of revenue per student.

Equity is not the same as equality
; it does not mean that every school district gets the same amount of funding. Some schools need additional funding to serve students with disabilities, to provide bilingual education, and to provide free and reduced-price lunches. In a truly equitable system, every school district has enough funding to provide a quality education to all of its students.

Why Fight for Equity?

Americans agree that a child's future should not depend on his or her heritage, parents' income or neighborhood. Our sense of justice insists that wherever a student comes from or lives, she or he should have the opportunity to succeed. Just as we insist that Texas have a quality highway throughout the state so that all Texans can travel easily and safely from north to south, so we believe that schools should have the resources to serve all students, to build the skills and capacities they need to reach any destination.

Education Adequacy

What is adequacy?

Since the late 1980s, the issue of equity has taken a back seat to the topic of finance adequacy. Unlike the equity debate – which focuses on the disparity in funding between districts – the adequacy debate focuses on defining a minimum level of funding needed for every school to teach its students.

Why does adequate set the bar too low?

The problem with adequacy is that it provides for education that is "just enough" rather than excellent. We have to ask ourselves, if we had adequate education, wouldn't we have adequate, not excellent, employees? Wouldn't we have adequate, not engaged citizens? Wouldn't we have adequate, not excellent, opportunities for our children to go to college?

All children deserve the best possible education, adequacy for some and excellence for others is, by its very nature, discriminatory.

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