Most educationalists have to agree that inequality begins with unequal education. Without equal educational opportunities, we can’t expect equality to rise to any other sector. Education forms the base for future prospects, and without that, inequality reigns.
Quality education is a fundamental need and right and can’t be overlooked. We consulted a panel of experts on ways we can reduce this inequality. Here’s how we can bridge the educational inequality gap;
The Bottom-up Approach
Reducing inequality in education can be addressed in two ways. The first is the top-down approach, whereby policies and management changes are made to address existing inequalities in the system. I want to focus on the bottom-up approach, whereby the teachers do something within their limits to help out the children on the short end. Teachers have to acknowledge and recognize how inequality exists in the system and their classrooms.
While teachers should teach and provide facilitation according to each child’s needs, they also must understand that the children do not have an equal starting point. To ensure that all children are given a chance at a quality education, extra effort has to be made on the teacher’s part to address the additional needs that disadvantaged families and their children bring into the classroom.
Lim Jia Le, an early childhood educator in Singapore, teaches children ages 18 months to 6 years old. Simply Family Dog.
Provide Books to Low-Income Families
Unfortunately, for many families, the inequality gap in education starts even before kids go to school. One of the first ways that kids experience inequality in education is with their exposure to books in the early years of their lives. Scientific research has proven that reading to kids often when they are young is a great way to give them a head start in their education.
The challenge is that some parents may have fewer resources to purchase books for their kids or less time to spend reading together as a family. Programs that provide books to low-income families and education about the importance of reading to kids can go a long way to solve this problem.
In some cases, parents may need extra training if they struggle with literacy as well.
Changes in the way that schools are structured are needed as well. When school funding is tied to test scores, schools that are fighting the inequality gap by educating struggling students are penalized. Instead, teacher salaries need to be raised to attract and keep qualified teachers, and schools need extra funding to help students who are struggling academically.
Sarah Miller is a homeschool mom of two and an educator with over a decade of experience teaching kids in preschool through high school. And the founder of Homeschooling 4 Him.
Exposing Individuals to Free Resources
Costs associated with education continue to increase every year. One of the best ways to combat this issue is by exposing individuals to free resources. There are so many great free resources out there, but not many people know where or how to access these resources. By exposing people to free learning resources, not only can they learn for free, but they can also figure out if that topic is interesting to them and something worth learning.
Nothing is worse than spending money on some sort of educational resource and then finding out a couple weeks later that you have no interest in that topic – free learning resources can help combat this issue and expose people to more topics and subjects they may be interested in.
Dave Evangelisti is the Founder and CEO of Test-Guide.com
Building in More Flex Time
Reducing inequity in education revolves around the idea that not all students need the same thing. We must be more responsive to the individualized needs of students from different backgrounds.
While this certainly means differentiating instruction and learning culturally and linguistically responsive practices and mindsets to use in regular class, we must also recognize that the one-size-fits-all model that a traditional schedule forces us into doesn’t always work, either.
In middle and high schools, this means rethinking the school schedule and building in more flex time that is more able to allow student choice and for teachers to group students dynamically so that they don’t always have the same groups of students together, leading to inefficiencies and making it more challenging to reach all the students in the room.
Creating flex time in schools, whether through a single intervention period each day or through multiple periods on any given day, and even entirely flexible days each week, is growing in popularity because it not only allows strategic and dynamic grouping of students across regularly scheduled classes to provide interventions more strategically, but also allows students more opportunities to participate in enrichment, clubs, and other extracurricular activities that are traditionally forced to after-school hours and provide other challenges around time and transportation.
Flex time in middle and high schools allows students to have their academic needs met in new ways and gives them more voice and choice in their day, which brings a new way for students to take ownership of their day and prepare them for life after high school.
James Bacon, a teacher, educationalist, and the Founder of Teach or America. He is also the Director of Outreach & Operations at Edficiency.
State Government Should Develop More Major Projects And Resources
The first approach would be to eliminate the property tax as a key financing source, therefore reducing class inequalities among children. Because low-income kids will get less by default, this is a key source of educational inequality. Instead, the state government should develop more major projects and resources to ensure that everyone gets a fair share of the pie.
Second, the expansion of charter and private schools should be halted since they are unaffordable for all kids and result in segregation. Third, test-based financing should be deprioritized since it discriminates against underprivileged pupils.
Finally, supporting attempts to deconstruct capitalism’s influence in our social sector, as well as an economy that taxes the affluent at a higher rate, will allow for proper support and funding of public sectors like public education and low-income family Assistance.
William Cohen, founder of My GRE Exam Prep, a company that provides personalized learning experiences online and focuses on learning.
Access To Literacy Resources and Tutors
Without strong literacy skills, students will not have equitable access to higher education institutions to further their education, and career options will be limited. To reduce inequality in education, students in under-resourced schools need access to literacy resources, trained volunteer tutors, and diverse libraries so they can feel empowered to boost their literacy skills and unlock their full potential.
When students feel confident and have those foundational skills to rely on, they’re set up for success in school and beyond.
Ally Bush is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving as the marketing and communications coordinator for Reading Partners.
Closing The Digital Divide
While many schools have returned to in-person classes, remote and hybrid learning will only grow in the future. With that in mind, reducing inequality means closing the digital divide. This requires everyone to have the same access to technology – that means both devices and high-speed internet with solid WiFi.
It’s also important to note that in low-income families, parents might not know how to help their kids with online learning. So parental education is also a necessary piece of the puzzle.
Scott Winstead, the Founder of MyElearningWorld.com
‘Equitable’ Funding For Underfunded Schools
Inequalities are lurking in every field; so do education, sadly. And so, there must be some clear-cut solutions to reduce the same. In order to reduce the inequalities in education, the first and foremost factor is to avoid the existing class division, where the people of a particular community receive a fund while others may not.
This could easily create an inequality in the little minds of children, even in the early years and so, there should be a system introduced, where there is a system for ‘equitable’ funding. The introduction of the fund for the low-income and underfunded schools should be encouraged so that they would ‘exist’ in balance from now on, thereby reflecting the future of students there. Strictly dismantling the capitalism existing in the social sector or even supporting the cause will help a lot to bring change. Katie Hodge, Content Director at Generator Magazine