Recent news articles have discussed the Las Cruces school board’s recently passed “equity” policy. Yet many confuse “equity” with “equality.”
According to the New Mexico Public Education Department’s “Culturally and Linguistically Responsive” handbook, “There is a common misconception that equity and equality mean the same thing … (T)he truth is they do not (and) cannot … Equality has become synonymous with ‘leveling the playing field.’ On the other hand, advocating for equity would mean recognizing that some schools … need more resources.”
A common graphic used by equity advocates shows children attempting to peer over a fence at a baseball game where the disadvantaged child can’t see because he starts on lower ground and with a higher fence.
Yet this conception is false. It pretends 50 years of social engineering never occurred. Long ago we had school libraries, buses, cafeterias, etc., but no Head Start, no publicly financed kindergartens, no free lunch program (I eventually got sick of mom’s daily bologna sandwiches), no free breakfast. At home, disadvantaged families have EBT cards, subsidized housing, subsidized public transportation, supplemental security income (SSI), unemployment coverage, WIC, AFDC, Medicaid and more.
Equity advocates continue to claim the need for even more resources. One justification is the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit. However, Yazzie-Martinez was an equality argument that poor communities were receiving less support per student ($6,000) than wealthier communities (up to $16,000): Equality, not equity.
Moreover, Yazzie-Martinez Judge Sarah Singleton’s criticism of the state focused on the lackluster capabilities of graduating seniors. Instead of honoring Yazzie-Martinez, this “changling” equity policy intends to “infuse” a new (expansive) ethnic studies curriculum, extended down to kindergarten!
Thus, far from ensuring children can rapidly and fully learn to read, write, and excel at math, beginning at early ages, so they can take advanced language, mathematics, arts and sciences classes in high school, this plan further complicates the learning process vital to post-high school success.
It’s also important to realize that the “equity” concept has existed in England for centuries. Over time, the “Maxims of Equity” were developed to regulate this system. These include: “He who seeks equity must do equity;” “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands;” “Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights.”
Let us consider each of these in turn. First, in seeking equity the LCPS Equity Council should not be inequitable itself by seemingly excluding senior citizens and/or politically diverse members of the community from participating as council members. Likewise, equity suggests a cooperative response to benefits received. Where is this response to prior equity?
Second, do the groups seeking equity truly come with clean hands? All ethnicities have skeletons, including white Europeans, Aztecs, Mayans, the Iroquois Confederation, Navajos, Apaches, African tribes who enslaved one another, indigenous tribes who took members of opposing tribes hostage, etc. Attempting to go back centuries to reverse wrongs will simply produce new forms of slavery.
Thirdly, people of all backgrounds have succeeded in our society. Therefore let us inquire whether specific groups/people for whom further benefits are planned have truly been diligent in leveraging resources (freedoms) already available?
I believe this and other “equity” plans are unfair to children born with the wrong skin color or ethnicity, and their parents. I believe the proposed policy will be equally unfair to the children it meant to benefit, for the “infused” ethnic studies project will necessarily deemphasize the core curriculum, adding yet another roadblock to the 70 percent of our school children who are not proficient at grade level in English and the 80 percent not proficient in math.
David Tofsted, Ph.D., is a retired research physicist and former chair of the Doña Ana County Republican Party.
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