May we make a few things certain before we embark on this delicate subject. First, while we were all students once — and often indifferent ones at that — we are not all teachers and educators. So it should behoove us to sit back and let the professionals try to explain this pedagogical endeavor.
Second, most, if not all, teachers, are governed by good intentions, what’s best for the children. After all, among the best of the teachers, it’s a calling, every bit as much as being a nurse or doctor is. Hence, they don’t initiate new endeavors frivolously.
Thirdly, from a parents’ point of view — and parents and teachers are often diametrically opposed on any number of things these days — teachers often fall for the Next Big Thing. That is, some of them do. We expect to see this battle rejoined when the idea of a $122 million fifth high school (three times more expensive than the last: Millbrook, which opened in 2003).
But we digress. The Next Best Thing is not capital, but something vexingly called “deep equity.” Our first thought, seriously, was how “equity” could have any depth. Women, after all, cannot be partially pregnant. So how can we measure “equity” when the mere suggestion of the word, at least to the layman’s eye, connotes a certain fullness. Can equitable have different degrees, or levels?
Whatever. Over the last three years — two years in Frederick County — Handley High has introduced the idea of “deep equity” to its hallowed halls. A special equity instructor, Carl Rush, a 1997 Handley grad, has been hired to largely implement the program.
To his credit, Mr. Rush explains what he and “deep equity” wish to do about as succinctly as possible. In Winchester, its school ethos describes “deep equity” as “when every student ... has what they need and when they need it.”
Daunting, to say the least, for the educator as well as the taxpayer. But at least Mr. Rush makes clear what his goals are. Whether he and the schools can accomplish this goal — “when every student ... has what they need and when they need it” — is a huge challenge as equity is pursued among people (kids) who defy the term.
Frederick County, which began its immersion in “deep equity” two years ago, does not seem as clear-cut in its goals as one can extract from its statement of purpose.
For Frederick, “deep equity is a practice of ensuring fairer outcomes, treatments, and opportunities for all members of the learning community. Members of the learning [teaching?] community ensure equity by recognizing, respecting, and attending to the diverse strengths and challenges of the students they serve.”
Isn’t this what Mr. Rush said in far fewer words?
For generations (primarily great-grandparents and grandparents) who grew up with blackboards and chalk, overhead projectors, and maybe an early smart board, all this sounds Greek, starting with the operational term.
But again, it’s not the equipment fashioning the product that matters half as much as the major ingredient involved. In other words, no human ceramic is the same, and no IEP has been invented that’s apt to change that.