- A new report from the America's Promise Alliance, the Aspen Institute's Education and Society Program, and the Council of Chief State School Officers aims to boost equity across factors like geography, race, gender, ethnicity, language and economics, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
- Among its suggestions are that online learning can help increase equity between urban and rural students, as those in the latter environment might lack similar resources or miss more days of school because of distance from the building itself.
- As a starting point, an examination of data is suggested to identify where a school district might be lacking.
Issues of equity have many faces in the nation's K-12 system. Racial disparities tend to be the most visible, and also tend to fall along socioeconomic lines. Schools in low-income areas tend to lack the most resources as a result of the realities of educational funding formulas, and in urban areas particularly, more people of color and families with English learners tend to fall into lower income brackets. This instantly places students in those neighborhoods at a disadvantage to their more affluent, and typically whiter, peers.
But these socioeconomic disparities are also seen in rural areas, where it can be difficult to find teachers with expertise in subject areas ranging from STEM to the arts — and less incentive to attract them there. Couple that with limited or potentially nonexistent broadband infrastructure, and that means these students have their own set of disadvantages in a world with increasingly high demand for schools to go digital.
Addressing these issues requires administrators to not only engage policymakers on improving school funding formulas, but to also build relationships with corporations and nonprofits to help close gaps on everything from resource and program availability to reliable broadband access. Those connections can prove especially beneficial for rural schools that might need to have a subject matter expert Skype in for classes in subjects like coding. And of course, it also never hurts equity efforts for administrators to connect educators with training on how to account for their own biases in the classroom.