Based on my experiences in public and private education, as well as collegiate level education, I have encountered a lot of discourse on crafting equity in educational spaces which indicate a gap between policy and action. In this series of posts I am seeking to describe actions in relationship to policy. Seeking a more equitable environment for education does not come easily. Things become messy. My efforts here may sanitize the struggle for equity too much. These posts are intended as guideposts to the highest peak, an equitable learning environment, but we usually only hear about the first to the summit and not the falls, storms, and failures that they and others seeking to conquer inequities.
Given this framework please accept that the following posts are informed opinion pieces. Specific interactions, policy suggestions, and ideas or recommendations should be taken as non-generalizable. This is a qualitative, critical theory driven, queer theory driven writing series. Question everything – in that manner actions should reveal themselves. Reflect as well. Through reflexive thinking about your own interpretations you may find keys to further questioning and bridging inequalities that were not considered at first. To aid in this I will try to pose questions throughout this series.
Table of Posts
Updated as additional posts are added.
The central idea to this series relies on the assumption that general education produces graduates with appropriate dispositions, attitudes, aesthetics, life views, and core values that contribute to society. Income, generally, reflects learning outcomes in our global society. Poor or low learning outcomes are deeper in low income areas. Generally these areas suffer from poor quality education and low learning effectiveness. This begins the recursion of a cycle. Learners from poor households and other marginalized groups suffer for the lack of effectiveness in their educational experience.
This situation is magnified at the basic levels of education where the highest levels of educational participation exist. Poor basic education persists into further exclusion and marginalization at post-basic levels of education. Pre-school, elementary school, and intermediate education fit within this umbrella. In advanced areas, where a high school or even initial post-secondary degree is considered basic, basic educational needs are even more starkly contrasted for marginalized people. The institution of education developed access but now we face the more formidable challenge of gaining equitable educational quality, learning experiences, and outcomes.
I accept that education benefits development. Reduction in poverty, individual growth, economic growth, prevention of disease, improvements to health, and participatory democracy area all benefits of education and the macro and micro scales. Good quality education that is effective and relevant increases sustainable use of the environment, diverse forms of equity and inclusiveness, peace, global citizenship, social cohesion and political stability. These are big societal ideas but inequitable education undermines these basic societal goals.
Politically we call for leaders to address these challenges but, from the temporal aspect, these leaders face such a daunting task that they are unable to identify what constitutes quality education. Institutional leaders, superintendents of schools, principles, and heads of school, lack the tools for systematic analysis and identification of critical constraints that prevent schools from attaining equity of education quality and learning outcomes. Such a framework, whether the one that I will describe in these posts or another, will strengthen leadership capacity to improve educational quality. This is not intended to create a comparison from school to school. That would be counter to the goal of supporting progress over time. Institutions and educators shoud use this framework for identifying common indicators in relationship is similar contexts and jointly monitor and work to greater equity in education.
Expectations of Educational Institutions
A key idea in this is work that equity in education requires a robust and well-functioning educational institution. This is not a tool for identifying the “wrong” and prescriptions for how to “fix” these wrongs. This is meant as a framework for raising questions and help institutional leaders and educators set priorities for themselves and if they are not achieving these goals, why not? It is a self-monitoring framework rather than an external monitoring rubric applied by outside agencies and accreditors.
This framework will take the position that the human knowledge capital exists within an institution for raising and answering questions pertaining to their educational systems. I am calling this local expert the contextual expert. Contextual experts are valuable in interpreting broader concepts within the regional context. As a form of technical assistance I am impelled towards humility in the face of the richness of context used to define quality. National and global knowledge of general education systems are brought in to server as a starting point and to enrich the local institutions knowledge as needed.
To use an engineering metaphor – the contextual experts know their region and I am providing general information on principles of design and engineering. Contextual experts know that they live in a desert environment with sand storms and dry heat. I provide concepts on tributary areas for structural member loading and the parameters, that can be varied, for various designs. Contextual experts are able to take these parameters and apply them to best serve their environmental needs. My recommendation that institutions evaluate information communication technologies and e-learning opportunities to expand inter-linkages with and expansions to core curriculum should be interpreted within the context of an individual institution. Towards this I will frame most recommendations as questions for evaluation.
Ideating a Quality Education System
This series of posts should create an operationally effective framework for an education system that is effective, enduringly responsive, equitable, and efficient. It should also be a tool for actual, rather than theoretical, access. The idea is to gain a provision for optimal quality education and delivery of learning experiences for each learner/family/community.