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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fair vs Equal

With back to school season upon us in the Triangle, I wanted to share with you my favorite illustration of the difference between "fair" and "equal". Unfortunately, schools often confuse the two - how many parents have heard "I can't do (fill in the blank) for your child, because that wouldn't be fair to the other students"?  
But what "fair" really means is that every child gets what they need, which by definition will look different for every child.

Equal means we all get the same. Fair means we all get what we need.

If my child with autism needs built in breaks to be successful in school and another child doesn't need them, it is not unfair to let my child have breaks, any more than it is unfair for a child who struggles to read to receive help from a literacy coach.

Fairness applies to issues of equity and poverty too - a recent article in the Chapel Hill News calling for more volunteers for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School's Blue Ribbon Mentor program told the heartbreaking story of a student whose teacher gave him a poor grade on an assignment because his family couldn't afford to buy a display board. The teacher was unwilling to make an exception because it "wouldn't be fair" to the other kids, another example of confusing equal (exactly the same) with fairness (each child getting what he needs).

A great explanation of Fair vs Equal by a teacher who gets it! Found on The Truth as I Understand It.

Let's hope that this year, all of our kids can get what is fair, not what is equal.


Ready to become an educated, empowered, and effective advocate for your child at school? Sign up now for the Wake County of the Autism Society of North Carolina's Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference on September 9, 2015. I cannot recommend a Wrightslaw conference strongly enough for every parent of a special needs child - read why it changed our lives.



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