Picturing Fairness, Equity, and Access

Which is more fair: grading on a curve or on a straight scale? Which is more equitable? Do all students in an open-enrollment district really have access to all schools if transportation isn’t provided? From daily classroom practice to broad debates on policy, it’s generally accepted that public education should be fair, equitable, and accessible. But what do fairness, equity, and access look like?

I first thought systematically about the three terms when I had to provide evidence to the National Board that my students had fair and equitable access to learning. Now, as a Candidate Support Provider, I’m often asked by candidates to explain the difference, and “you know it when you see it” won’t do.  The best I’ve come up with is the following diagrams that I made on my Ipad with Paper 53. The first diagram is a hypothetical rule for access, followed by a sketch of fair but inequitable access, and finally fair and equitable access.  

Maybe you can find some use for the sketches – in your classes, perhaps, or even in you’re own thinking. I’d love to hear about either. Maybe you can sketch your own ideas on the topics and share them, too.

Plus, I’ve been trying to figure out if something can be equitable but unfair? Any ideas?