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Equity [ek-wi-tee]: –noun, plural -ties.
1. the quality of being fair or impartial
2. a justice according to natural law or right; specifically: freedom from bias or favoritism

New York City is the largest school system in the United States, with over 1.1 million students taught in close to 1,700 separate schools. The school system is roughly 70% black and Hispanic and about 13% Asian.

In contrast, the latest census shows NYC having a total population of 8,391,88 with a racial breakdown of 48.2% white; 26.5% Black or African American, 27.6% Hispanic or Latino and 12.6% Asian.

Proclaimed the melting pot, New York is one of most segregated states for black students. In the majority of schools, students attend class with other students that look like them.

As NYC is the touted as the ed reform capital of the USA there is a consistent issue of equity that is prevalent.

The answer to achieving equity?....tests.

Tests have been used to close the achievement gap
Tests have been given to close gender gap
Tests have been given to bring diversity to specialized high schools
Tests have been given to bring diversity to talented and gifted programs

Minority students are facing unequal access to quality education and our ed reformers are saying, "let them eat tests."

As I travel around the five boroughs during this Regents week, I speak to school staff members who are crossing out names on graduation lists. I see parents celebrating 8th grade graduations as if this is the last graduations that they will attend for this child. And with every 27 seconds a member of the Class of 2011 dropping out and 39,669 of those coming out of NYC, I understand.

There needs to be another answer to achieving equity in a system that was built to only serve a select few.


*Phrase is taken from Stanford Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond's graduation speech at Columbia University's Teacher College on May 18, 2011 and later published in The Nation.


This post is part of the Those Who Can series.

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