Equity, Social Justice and Education – by Godson Chukwuma, Joseph Nwoye, Katina Webster

As the debate rages on the extent of equity and social justice for all, two perspectives are emerging. On the one hand, the traditional school of thought represents people who believe that things are going well and that the system operates well based on their conception of equity and social justice for all. These traditionalists assert that our system is fair and that it works as it is supposed to do. They further claim that the system’s operation aligns with the founding fathers’ statements in the 1776 Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that their Creator endows them with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Examining the concept of equity and social justice, we are reminded of the words of President Reagan, “Trust but verify,” and reflect on the inconsistencies surrounding these feel-good words. For instance, property owners did not include women or people of color. We believe that this exclusion could, by extension, provide the impetus for some of the discriminatory activities that ensued, including racist educational survival complex that told dark families that schools were “separate but equal.”

In response to these exclusions, dedicated advocates for change in “We the people” oppose the traditionalist’s fallacies that excludes others, which is evidenced in an educational perspective built on white supremacy perspective, anti-black, and sexism. Advocates for change content that we should call it what it is, Big lies. Furthermore, they argue that although the words in the Declaration of Independence were great, they applied only to property owners. Neither women nor people of color were  included, nor were Native Americans. 

Advocates for change are critical of the current system that is neither equal nor just. The advocates for change are charting a new course that would ultimately provide real equity and social justice for all, noting that Blacks are still fighting the established norm for the right to educate their children.

The 2020 dual turbulence of COVID 19 has exposed our nation’s ubiquitous inequity and lack of social justice. As author Bettina Love asserts: “We want to do more than survive,” she clearly reminds us that the current system is neither equal nor just when certain citizens are excluded as evidenced in all aspects of our system that purport to be equal and just.

 The push for equity and social justice for all. 

Imagine that we all reflect and rethink past behaviors, such as keeping silent or sustaining the status quo without going to the right course. For example, learners are subjected to harassment and abuse and not provided with foundational preparation, thus leading to the current achievement gap debates. Some blame the victims of achievement on their skin pigmentations instead of tackling the through causes of achievement gap-lack of foundational preparation, including inadequate preparation or deprivation of foundational prerequisites the victims of achievement gaps are faced within schools.

Concerning achievement gaps, each academic advisor serves as the gatekeeper with the role of ensuring that before a student registers for a course. The academic advisor makes sure that the student is vetted and has acquired the necessary prerequisites to proceed to a higher level. Students who do not have these requirements often have inadequate preparation because of insufficient foundational practice that is ubiquitous in schools that serve children of poverty. Furthermore,  instructors often don’t understand the sequences of curriculum and best practices in curriculum development practices in their instruction. The absence of best practices in curriculum and instruction for the poor’s children leads to  inequity and unequal opportunity.

Academic success can be achieved by everyone when people understand curriculum and instructional driven behavior leading to low performance or educational achievement gaps. Unfortunately, the children of the poor, often minorities, are victimized by acts of schools intentionally allowing minority students to move to a higher grade without having necessary prerequisites. The result is predictable and these issues are not correctly framed, especially when you compare these children of the poor to their well-off counterparts.

There is a noticeable difference treatment of students based of whether they are wealthy or poor. Teachers pay particular attention to wealthy parents, sometimes those parents are seen as people who care for their children, these are mothers who are often given names, such as helicopter mom, these are people who ask a lot of questions and sometimes, they terrorize teachers and compel them to take extra care for the academic need of their children succeed. Hence, the schools work hard to ensure that their children have the prerequisites, and they know if the children of such parents are not adequately prepared, they will be back and thus put the teachers in trouble. Why can they extend such treatment to the poor’s children so that their children, too, have the prerequisite to succeeding?

People often talk about gifted and non-gifted students; I contend that all students can be proficient if those who trained them to ensure that they were provided foundational preparations to succeed. In other words, with appropriate practice, we believe that when children are provided with the prerequisites and put on the trajectory to become gifted, they will become gifted. If you are unlucky and unable to get those prerequisites, you end up falling behind early, coupled with discriminatory practice practices that would lead to a predictable result- academic failure.

The source of the problem is clear; while some students are provided the conditions to succeed, others are not. For those who want to learn more, to explore discriminatory practices in our school system that offers a unique window through which we can gain a deeper understanding of what propelled a new rank to gifted courses. It also provides why some succeed while others are impeded. If you are in doubt, I encourage you to read about the extreme mistreatment of black and brown children in our schools as early, and that would surprise and shock you as you get into the walls of the place we call the school. That is part of our systemic inequity that often stems from schools that do not prepare the poor’s children.

 Conclusion

 We have a system that does not work as it purports, and is neither equity nor just.  Can it be characterized as driven by white rage, a term used to create a roadblock that too often impedes black, brown, and other minorities from achieving success college and elsewhere?

It is time for all people to come together and fight “soft bigotry,” mostly having to listen to people say, “I don’t see color, I treat them the same.” The time for complacency is over; we must neither leave “soft bigot” to occur with impunity nor pretend that we do not see it; we must call them out in whatever form they appear. Being vigilant and relentlessly fighting inequity and other inappropriate behaviors that impede the vulnerable poor from succeeding in schools must be opposed vigorously to put victims on the trajectory to school success.

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