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Letter: Equity policy is not discriminatory

Equity measures are the responses of public schools across our county, our state and our country to the historically based social injustices that still persist, despite the progress that has been made over the decades. Equity policy is not discriminatory, nor is it racist.

Academic success in K-12 is correlated with the socioeconomic status of the child’s family, race and/or whether or not the child comes from a family where English is spoken at home, speaking to the inequality that still exists in our society. That inequality has a historical basis. Are we ready to punish children for this history?

The meaning of equity has recently been misinterpreted and distorted by alarmist politicians. An illustration of equity shows three children of differing heights trying to look over a fence which is too high for the smallest child; the middle child could manage with a booster step, while the tallest child sees without any assistance. There are three boosters available for distribution. Shared equally, only two of the three would see over the fence, but is that just? For justice to be served, each child should be provided the help that he/she needs to see over the fence and succeed in school, to the best of that child’s abilities. Do the disadvantaged children deserve to struggle more than the child who is big enough to see over the fence, by virtue of the circumstances under which they are being raised?

In Montgomery County, there are three schools whose student population come from a lower socioeconomic level than the others, in which test scores are relatively lower, and absenteeism higher. Can we imagine that the children in those three disadvantaged schools show a different distribution of abilities than the children in “richer” schools? In addition, there is a disparity in rates of disciplinary action taken against Black children and children with disabilities in Virginia public schools when compared with other groups. Can we imagine that those children who are more severely disciplined in our schools are being treated with as much understanding as their counterparts who also sometimes misbehave? 

Ruth Grene, Blacksburg 

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