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4th of July Reflections on Freedom, Equity, and “a Chance to be Better”

Meeting each student where they are and giving them the tools to succeed

French philosopher, author, and journalist Albert Camus once said, “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” This year, as we observe our relatively young democracy’s 242nd year of declared independence, it’s worth reflecting on what it really means to be free and equal—especially within the context of education.

We often talk about equality in the classroom and the importance of giving all children access to the same opportunities. In a perfect world, everybody gets the same book, teacher, and technology. That’s equality of opportunity, but it’s not equity. And it’s far from perfect.

To achieve equity, we have to step back and think about the individual, where they’re coming from, and what it will take to help him or her achieve their full learning potential. It’s different for everyone. Equity is about meeting each student where they are and giving them what they need to succeed.

Victor Rivero, founder and editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, recently talked to DreamBox CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson about the current state of education and the role technology can and should play in shaping the future of instruction. At one point in the  interview, Jesse recalls a presentation she attended about diversity inclusion in which the speaker invoked a succinct yet powerful analogy about equity.

Two children are on the outside of a packed stadium trying to look in. A fence blocks their view. One child is four feet tall and the other is three.

Now, in the interest of equality, we could give both children the same tool: a one-foot stool. For the four-foot tall child, that’s just what he needs to see over the fence. But, for the three-foot tall child the stool is insufficient. And that, in a nutshell, is the difference between equality and equity.

As educators, we have to remember that everybody doesn’t start from the same place. Some kids come to school hungry. Some call the back seat of a car home. Some have parents deployed to war zones. They all need and deserve a taller stool. And it’s in everyone’s best interest to give them the tools they need to succeed.

As we celebrate freedom today, let’s take a moment to think about equity and what we can do to unlock every child’s potential and give them “a chance to be better.” Please read the EdTech article, The Resonance of a Powerful Voice to learn more about equity in education and how investing in each learner isn’t just good for them, it’s good for their family, their community, and our nation as a whole. It’s also essential to our future.

On behalf of DreamBox, I wish you all a happy and safe holiday!


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