Equality and equity…

The talk today wasn’t focused much on gender equality… although, perhaps it should have been…

We had our opening day meetings today — and, since we’re a new Achieving the Dream college,  we were treated to a discussion of the difference between equity and equality.  Perhaps it was a message that needed to be sent to some quarters, but it seemed like old news to me.

It’s been obvious to me from the first time I stepped in a college classroom 11 years ago that some students had bigger obstacles to overcome than others.  Some of those obstacles are educational deficits, but most of the time life in general got in the way of their education.  The more “traditional” and “liberal arts” focused the school, the fewer life issues got in the way.  In a community college, life issues are busting out all over.

This isn’t news to any college prof you’ll talk to.  Students have different kinds of challenges during college, duh… some of those challenges are self-imposed, others are due to structural inequalities that are not at all their fault.  The trouble seems to be in figuring out what to do about it.

As much as I’d like to believe that my class can change the life path of every student I meet, I know that isn’t the case.  Similarly, as much as I’d like to see Achieving the Dream close the achievement gap on my campus, it’s a pretty tall order all around.  The reasons students have differing levels of achievement is that they face different personal and structural barriers to success.. and I’m not at all sure how my campus can make that kind of change happen for them….

Also, some colleagues did a pretty basic bit of research and found that 80% of the students who had a D, F or withdrew from the class had at least one of the following three characteristics… 1) they missed the first day of class, 2) they missed a total of 2 weeks worth of classes or 3) they failed to turn in assignments worth 15% of the total points for the course.

So, the startling conclusion is that 80% of the students who weren’t successful didn’t come to class or do their work.  Big shock… of course, the interesting question is why / how did they end up there… and the answers are as complex and varied as the students.  They may also, in many ways, be beyond our control as a college.


2 Responses

  1. […] From my other blog…. go read it… please… Share this:ShareFacebookEmailDiggPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. You know, that was the main reason kids failed my high school class, too. Failing to show up or failing to do the work. Still not sure what I could have done to fix those issues. I do believe in sweat equity–like Habitat for Humanity. People have to buy in, right?

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