According to the equity literacy framework, equity is not merely about giving every student what they need to succeed in an individual sense. This way of imagining equity obscures our responsibility to address institutional bias and inequity. Instead, equity is a process through which we ensure that policies, practices, institutional cultures, and ideologies are actively equitable, purposefully attending to the interests of the students and families to whose interests we have attended inequitably. By recognizing and deeply understanding these sorts of disparities, we prepare ourselves to respond effectively to inequity in the immediate term. We also strengthen our abilities to foster long-term change by redressing institutional and societal conditions that create everyday manifestations of inequity.Equity Literacy Definition and Abilities | Equity Literacy Institute
This unit grapples with two possible concepts of fairness: an equality or “sameness” concept of fairness, and an equity or needs-based concept. It encourages pupils to question sameness-based understandings of fairness, and why these may not work for everyone. It explains how the principle of equity is already at work in many familiar school situations—like a teacher spending more time with a pupil who has more questions.
Mainly through story explanations, it also tries to address objections that pupils may have for example, that getting support automatically grants an “unfair” advantage over others, or that some tools are “cheating” or mean pupils aren’t doing the work themselves.
The unit also introduces a balance scale metaphor for thinking about fairness. Someone may experience a challenge that others don’t have in that situation. It’s “a weight on their scale”—so they may also use a support that others don’t use, as a tool to meet that challenge and help “balance their scale”.Learning About Neurodiversity at School (LEANS) | The University of Edinburgh
- Sameness-based Versus Needs-based Fairness
- Toolbelt Theory
- ✨ Shiny Thing Equity Arithmetic
- ⚖️ Equity Literacy
- Avoid These Equity Pitfalls
- Veil of Ignorance
- Deficit Ideology
- I Wish You Could Know, What It Means to Be Me
Sameness-based Versus Needs-based Fairness
Learning About Neurodiversity at School (LEANS) | The University of Edinburgh
- What I need may be differentOur friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... More than what other people need, and that is OK. Everyone has things they need to thrive at school and in their life.
- Fairness in school isn’t always about being treated the same or getting the same things.
- Sometimes, it can be fair for people to get or to do different things than their classmates, because they don’t have the same needs. Being treated fairly helps us be able to do our best at school.
- Due to their learning and thinking, some neurodivergentNeurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... More students may do things differentlyOur friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... More in the classroom. What helps one person may not help another—neurodivergent people are very different from each other too.
Tall Poppy Syndrome, the politics of resentment, fundamental attribution errorThe Fundamental Attribution Error is that we overestimate the power of the person and underestimate the power of the situation.Student Culture and Learning: What’s the Connection? Lee Ross defined FAE... More, and sameness-based notions of fairness are a systemic slog for neurodivergent and disabledThe label "disabled" means so much to me. It means I have community. It means I have rights. It means I can be proud. It means I can affirm myself... More people. We really appreciate this video from LEANS explaining fairness.
Video: Explaining Fairness (LEANS resource 5.3) – Media Hopper Create
LEANS introduces a balance scale metaphor for fairness.
In this story, Mr. Oliver introduces a new metaphor for fairness, the balance scale. He is trying to address concerns that classroom changes or additional supports give some pupils an advantage over others (i.e. are actively disadvantaging classmates). The point of the balance scale is to suggest that supports may help “even things up” rather than putting some people ahead of others. People getting or doing apparently “extra” things may be making school more fair, not less.
Mr. Oliver reminds the class that the example is about one person in one situation. People’s scales will differ from one another, and each person would have a different scales in a different situations (for example, sports, maths, or artThe arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly,... More rather than a book report). Different situations make different demands on us—and our available tools and coping capacity can vary too.Learning About Neurodiversity at School (LEANS) | The University of Edinburgh
Explaining Fairness (LEANS resource 5.3)
Props to the LEANS Team for the quotes and images used above. StimpunksStimpunk combines “stimming” + “punk” to evoke open and proud stimming, resistance to neurotypicalization, and the DIY culture of punk, disabled, and neurodivergent communities. Instead of hiding our stims, we... More recommends LEANS to all educators.
Illustrations ©Claire Hubbard 2022
At our Stimpunks learning space, we embrace toolbelt theoryToolbelt Theory is based in the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions... More, which uses needs-based rather than sameness-based framingWhen we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... More.
Tools matter though. They are the most basic thing about being human.
They matter most for those who lack the highest capabilities.
And everyone needs a properly equipped Toolbelt to get through life.Toolbelt Theory for Everyone
We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.The Basics of Open Technology
ToolbeltToolbelt Theory is based in the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions... More Theory is based in the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions appropriately, based in the task to be performed, the environment in which they find themselves, their skills and capabilities at that time, and the ever-changing universe of high and low-tech solutions and supports.
So, the Toolbelt is designed to:
A Toolbelt for a Lifetime
- Break the dependence cycle
- Develop lifespan technology skills
- Limit limitations
- Empower student decision making
- Prepare students for life beyond school
No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.
We hand our students real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill them with software, apps, and bookmarks.
We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.The Basics of Open Technology
We all have different needs and different tool belts, especially those of us who are neurominoritiesThere is consensus regarding some neurodevelopmental conditions being classed as neurominorities, with a 'spiky profile' of executive functions difficulties juxtaposed against neurocognitive strengths as a defining characteristic.Neurodiversity at work: a... More with spiky profiles. At Stimpunks, we push back against sameness-based notions of fairness with toolbelt framing. We’re co-creating personalized toolbelts to meet learners’ needs.
✨ Shiny Thing Equity Arithmetic
Shiny Thing Racial Equity Arithmetic: Racism + diversity programming + an anti-bullying program + Kindness Matters + SEL, PBIS, and restorative practicesRestorative practices (RP) derive from “restorative justice,” which is used to bring together, in mutual agreement for mediation, the victim and the perpetrator of an offense. The goal is typically restitution for... More + grit and growth mindsetThe marketing of mindsets was everywhere this year: “How to Develop Mindsets for Compassion and Caring in Students.” “Building A Tinkering Mindset In Young Students Through Making.” “6 Must-Haves for... More = RacismPaul Gorski via Soni Gill on Twitter
⚖️ Equity Literacy
With this in mind, my purposeSelf-determination Theory (SDT) is... — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation. It’s one of several models of human motivation, but it’s one that has been confirmed over and... More is to argue that when it comes to issues surrounding poverty and economic justice the preparation of teachers must be first and foremost an ideological endeavour, focused on adjusting fundamental understandings not only about educational outcome disparities but also about poverty itself. I will argue that it is only through the cultivation of what I call a structural ideologyEducators with a structural ideology understand that educational outcome disparities are dominantly the result of structural barriers, the logical if not purposeful outcome of inequitable distributions of opportunity and access... More of poverty and economic justice that teachers become equity literate (Gorski 2013), capable of imagining the sorts of solutions that pose a genuine threat to the existence of class inequity in their classrooms and schools.
Source: Poverty and the ideological imperative: a call to unhook from deficit and grit ideology and to strive for structural ideology in teacher education
The Direct Confrontation Principle
The Direct Confrontation Principle: The path to equity requires direct confrontations with inequity—with interpersonal, institutional, cultural and structural racism and other forms of oppression. “Equity” approaches that fail to directly identify and confront inequity playThere is nothing more human than play. Humans were designed to learn in play. In fact, nearly all mammals evolved this way.Play's Power At our learning space, we provide learners fresh... More a significant role in sustaining inequity.Basic Principles for Equity Literacy
The Prioritization Principle
The Prioritization Principle: In order to achieve equity we must prioritize the interests of the students and families whose interests historically have not been prioritized. Every policy, practice, and program decision should be considered through the question, “What impact is this going to have on the most marginalizedFor me this space of radical openness is a margin a profound edge. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary. It is not a “safe” place. One is always at... More students and families? How are we prioritizing their interests?”Basic Principles for Equity Literacy
The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle
The “Fix Injustice, Not Kids” Principle: Educational outcome disparities are not the result of deficiencies in marginalized communities’ cultures, mindsetsThe marketing of mindsets was everywhere this year: “How to Develop Mindsets for Compassion and Caring in Students.” “Building A Tinkering Mindset In Young Students Through Making.” “6 Must-Haves for... More, or grittiness, but rather of inequities. Equity initiatives focus, not on “fixing” students and families who are marginalized, but on transforming the conditions that marginalize students and families.Basic Principles for Equity Literacy
Avoid These Equity Pitfalls
Avoid These Equity Pitfalls
- Universal Validation – Not all ideas and perspectives are equitable. We don’t want to validate someone’s racist perspective. Equity is not about universal validation.
- Equity Detours: Addressing Equity Problems with Cultural Solutions – There is no path toward equity that does not involve a direct confrontation with inequity.
- Lack of Leadership – The people with the most equity literacy have to be the people with the most powerThe 20th Century political scientist Karl Deutsch said, “Power is the ability not to have to learn.”I quote this statement often, because I think it’s one of the most important... More.
- Going at the Pace of the Most Resistant – We are prioritizing the comfort of the people who are most resistant instead of prioritizing the discomfort the most marginalized people in the institution experience.
- Doing What’s Popular Instead of Doing What’s Effective
- Embracing a Deficit IdeologyBriefly, deficit ideology is a worldview that explains and justifies outcome inequalities— standardized test scores or levels of educational attainment, for example—by pointing to supposed deficiencies within disenfranchised individuals and... More Instead of a Structural Ideology – If your equity initiatives are about fixing marginalized people rather than about addressing the conditions that marginalize people, there’s no way to get to equity.
Every person who is struggling right now does not have the luxury to wait. We are literally dying.Leadership Training Institute 2020 | Dominique Hollins – YouTube
I don't trust you any more You keep on saying "Go slow!" "Go slow!" But that's just the trouble "Do it slow" Desegregation "Do it slow" Mass participation "Do it slow" Reunification "Do it slow" Do things gradually "Do it slow" But bring more tragedy "Do it slow" Why don't you see it Why don't you feel it I don't know I don't know You don't have to live next to me Just give me my equality
Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone
“Mississippi Goddam” was banned in several Southern states. Boxes of promotional singles sent to radio stations around the country were returned with each record broken in half.
Simone performed the song in front of 10,000 people at the end of the Selma to Montgomery marches when she and other black activists, including Sammy Davis Jr., James Baldwin and Harry Belafonte crossed police lines.Mississippi Goddam – Wikipedia
Veil of Ignorance
Philosopher John Rawls asked just that in a thought experiment known as “the Veil of IgnoranceIf you could redesign society from scratch, what would it look like?How would you distribute wealth and power?Would you make everyone equal or not? How would you define fairness and... More” in his 1971 book, Theory of Justice.
Behind the Veil of Ignorance, no one knows who they are. They lack clues as to their class, their privilegesTo not have conversations because they make you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege. Your comfort is not at the center of this discussion.Brené Brown Power can be understood as... More, their disadvantages, or even their personality. They exist as an impartial group, tasked with designing a new society with its own conception of justice.
As a thought experiment, the Veil of Ignorance is powerful because our usual opinions regarding what is just and unjust are informed by our own experiences. We are shaped by our race, gender, class, education, appearance, sexuality, career, family, and so on. On the other side of the Veil of Ignorance, none of that exists. Technically, the resulting society should be a fair one.The Fairness Principle: How the Veil of Ignorance Helps Test Fairness – Farnam Street
Unlearning Deficit Ideology and the Scornful Gaze: Thoughts on Authenticating the Class Discourse in Education
This image is actually a great example of deficit thinkingBriefly, deficit ideology is a worldview that explains and justifies outcome inequalities— standardized test scores or levels of educational attainment, for example—by pointing to supposed deficiencies within disenfranchised individuals and... More — an ideology that blames victims of oppression for their own situation. As with this image, deficit thinking makes systemic forms of racism and oppression invisible. Other images, like the one of different animals having to climb a tree, or of people picking fruit, suffer from the same problem. How would we make these root causes more visible in our “equity vs. equality” image?
Well, if we began with the metaphor of the fence, this would require making clear that the reason some people have more difficulty seeing than others is not because of their height, but because of the context around them.
Source: The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you’re using | Cultural Organizing
I Wish You Could Know, What It Means to Be Me
I wish you could know What it means to be me Can you see You’d agree Everybody Should be free (Because if we ain’t, we’re murderers) --I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free by Nina Simone
I sing from intelligence. I sing from letting them know that I know who they are and what they have done to my people around the world.
That’s not anger. Anger has its place. Anger has fire, and fire moves things, but I sing from intelligence. I don’t want them to think that I don’t know who they are.Nina Simone on BBC HARDtalk, 1999
Haitian Fight Song, to begin with, could just as well be called Afro-American Fight Song. It has a folk spirit, the kind of folk music I’ve always heard anyway.
My solo in it is a deeply concentrated one. I can’t play it right unless I’m thinking about prejudice and hate and persecution, and how unfair it is. There’s sadness and cries in it, but also determination. And it usually ends with my feeling: ‘I told them! I hope somebody heard me.’The Clown Album Liner Notes
I've got a soul that can not sleep At night when something just ain't right Blood red, but without sight Exploding egos in the night Mix like sticks of dynamite Red, black, or white, this is my fight Come on courage, let's be heard Turn feelings into words American equality has always been sour An attitude I would like to devour My name is peace, this is my hour Can I get just a little bit of power? Power of equality Is not yet what it ought to be (Ought to be) It fills me up like a hollow tree (Hollow tree) The power of equality Right or wrong, my song is strong You don't like it, get along Say what I want, do what I can Death to the message of the Ku Klux Klan I don't buy supremacy A-media chief, you menace me The people you say cause all the crime Wake up motherfucker and smell the slime Blackest anger, whitest fear Can you hear me, am I clear? My name is peace, this is my hour Can I get just a little bit of power? Power of equality Is not yet what it ought to be (Ought to be) It fills me up like a hollow tree (Hollow tree) The power of equality I've got tapes, I've got CD's I've got my Public Enemy My lily white ass is tickled pink When I listen to the music that makes me think "Not another motherfuckin' politician Doin' nothin' but something for his own ambition" Never touch the sound we make Soul sacred love, vows that we take To create straight what is true Yo, he's with me and what I do My name is peace, this my hour Can I get just a little bit of power? Power of equality Is not yet what it ought to be (Ought to be) It fills me up like a hollow tree (Hollow tree) The power of equality Madder than a motherfucker, lick my finger Can't forget, 'cause the memory lingers Count 'em off quick, little Piccadilly sickness Take me to the hick, oh, eat my thickness I've got a welt from the Bible belt A-dealing with the hand that I've been dealt Sitting in the grip of a killing fist Giving up blood just to exist Rub me wrong and I get pissed No, I can not get to this People in pain, I do not dig it Change of brain for Mr. Bigot Little brother, do you hear me? Have a heart, oh, come get near me Misery is not my friend But I'll break before I bend What I see is insanity Whatever happened to humanity? Whatever happened to humanity? Whatever happened to humanity?
The Power of Equality by Red Hot Chili Peppers
I got another plan One that requires me to stand On the stage or in the street Don't need no microphone or beat And when you hear this song If you ain't dead then sing along Bang and strum to these here drums 'Til you get where you belong I got a list of demands Written on the palm of my hands I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand We're living hand to mouth You wanna be somebody? See somebody? Try and free somebody Got a list of demands Written on the palm of my hands I ball my fist and you're gonna know where I stand We're living hand to mouth Hand to mouth
List of Demands by Saul Williams
Further readingThere are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... More,