Equity vs. Equality — The College Edition

(None of My Brothers or Sister Went College…and that is Truly a Shame)

The only stress that rivals back-to-school time, is apply-to-college time. For some families college applications are the culmination of a decade (or more) of preparation, for others, it’s a last-minute gut-slam.

So as the appointments with school counselors are made, as teachers are asked for letters of recommendation and transcripts emotionally absorbed, as we try to understand the Common App, FAFSA, Early Decision versus Early Action etc. The following question arises for students and parents: what are the very best colleges within our grasp? Take it from me, after pouring over the chat sites like College Confidential where students and parents dish the dirt, gloat about SAT scores, and whine about not getting into Harvard, the competition between Asians, Whites, Blacks, and other minorities for coveted spots ratchets up….and up…as senior year progresses. And the debate about equity vs. equality ratchets up as well.

According to social justice theory, equity hinges on ensuring that outcomes are comparable for everyone regardless of their starting point. So if someone was behind, they would require MORE than someone who was ahead of them, in order to reach the same outcome. Equality simply means treating everyone the same. So by logical extension, outcomes will likely not be equal since starting points are not equal. With our our Attorney General and President working together (right now as I clack away on my keyboard), to make sure equity is not achieved. Parents and students are waiting with bated breath to see if colleges, who are committed to equity will simply drive their work-arounds deeper underground rather than abandon them completely.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is aware of this trend to obfuscate…Instead of “winks, nods, and disguises,” Ginsburg has called for race-conscious policy to offset the still-enduring effects of slavery and the subsequent unconstitutional exploitation of its descendants under Jim Crow. “Only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious.”

She clearly wants policies to be based on race. While other social justice advocates call for realigning Affirmative Action to focus, not explicitly on race, but on income levels. Buuuut, aren’t most poor people in America brown-skinned? I really don’t care what the policy or procedure is called — as long as it achieves equity, I’m down with it. I would hate for what happened to my brother and sister to happen to any other brown kids.

Another True Sad Story:

My brother Joji started attending our neighborhood Berkeley Hills School right after he was adopted from Japan in about 1959, and my sister Kim after her adoption from Korea in1962. Joji spoke no English and Kim only some. Similarly to today’s refugees my brother and sister arrived traumatized and behind the pack in so many ways. They were half Black, illegitimate war babies, rejected by family, and dumped in orphanages…they not only needed dedicated English language instruction, but also many of the social service supports today’s pubic school ELL (English Language Learner) programs provide.They needed EXTRA help. Instead what they got was the exact same curriculum and instruction as the other children — equal treatment.  It’s no surprise that both my brother and sister lost their native language, both suffered mental health issues (more on that later), and that neither of them went to college.

 

 

Break the cycle

About the author: Laurie

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  1. Karma - October 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm Reply

    Any time we’re discussing affirmative reaction, it’s important to remember that the majority of benefactors for it are not people of color, but women (which makes sense, since we are half the population, not a literal minority). Affirmative action is usually discussed in the context of race when is as much or more a women’s rights issue.

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