Status Quo Disrupted

By Nora Carr

Standing opportunity and achievement gaps for students, often are a tough sell. Typically designed to better outcomes for disadvantaged or low-performing students, or to update deteriorating facilities and obsolete technology, such efforts rarely reduce opportunities for more affluent or high-performing students in meaningful or significant ways.

Sadly, middle- and upper middle-class parents often oppose equity initiatives, particularly if they perceive any threat to their offspring. Most simply don’t recognize the well-documented fact that their children already enjoy the majority of public school benefits. Since this parent group also represents many school boards’ most vocal, aggressive, and organized constituency, they can derail equity plans or minimize their impact by watering down the project scope -- even in minority-majority school systems.

Fear of alienating this powerful constituency and driving more families to charters and other public school alternatives has put equity on the back burner in many communities, especially in today’s divisive political climate. Yet ethical leadership demands that school officials confront the historical as well as current social and educational inequities that continue to benefit some students at the expense of others.

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