Equity and Opportunity Unit Overview
This unit provides the broader cultural and political context to help students understand educational equity—why inequities exist, what they look like in everyday settings, and how they can be addressed in through the implementation of laws, policies, and through educators’ everyday practice and interactions. The unit begins with an overview of the purposes, history, and landmark court decisions and legislation in educational rights cases. It examines how schools are funded and governed from federal to local control. These are presented as the broader ethical, political, and legal aspects of investigating educational opportunity as a foundation for students to consider how they play out in school and how their actions as students, future teachers, and citizens can address educational equity. This unit follows an exploration of culture and identity that includes a focus on discrimination and bias, and extends that focus by considering how these issues affect students’ learning and development in schools.
- Understand that current commitments to equity and diversity are deeply connected to our democratic ideals and part of a long struggle for educational equity and opportunity.
- Apply knowledge of how schools are governed at federal, state, local, school and classroom levels to identify possible avenues of action to address a current issue in education.
- Research and present one issue of civil rights in education, tracing the history and current status of laws, policies, practices and educator responsibility to address civil rights through policy, practice and interaction.
- What is the purpose of public schools in the USA?
- What is the opportunity gap and what can we as mentors / teachers do to support ALL students to succeed?
- What are historical and current theories about why select groups of students succeed in school while others are failed by schools?
- How can history, laws, policies and collective action support us to close the opportunity gap?
- How do these laws and policies influence everyday experiences of students and teachers in schools?
- How can teachers work successfully with families and communities to support students’ success?
Students will be able to:
- Recognize the current commitment to equity and diversity as deeply connected to our democratic ideals and part of a long struggle for educational equity and opportunity.
- Understand how schools are governed at federal, state, local, school and classroom levels.
- Make connections between educational equity at the level of policy, practice and interaction.
- Develop a sense of agency that they can make a difference by addressing everyday injustices.
Students will understand that:
- Membership in some ethnic / cultural groups, historically and currently, offers privilege to some and marginalizes others including access to quality education.
- Laws and policies can be a vehicle to overcome discrimination but may also inadvertently serve to increase inequity.
- Both individually and collectively we can make a difference in the lives of individuals and for groups of students.
Students will know:
- Current and historical issues in education
- Landmark legal cases and movements that have advanced educational equity
- Laws, policies, finance and governance affecting education
Students will be skilled at:
- Making connections across history to the present and from societal to interpersonal levels.
- Summarizing and representing legal and historical information visually and orally.
- Legal Issue Jigsaw and Poster Session
- Letter to the Editor on a Current Issue in Education