Cape election brings equality and equity into focus

May 14, 2021

 “Although the sense of equality is made the basis of many social and political ideals, the real conditions of rich, cooperative life are fulfilled only when the bare idea of equality is replaced by the realization of the unity of all life.”  – Meher Baba, Discourses

The recent Cape Henlopen school board election brought forward certain terms, phrases and pending legislation that have been flying below or above my radar screen: Equity, Critical Race Theory and Delaware House Bill 198.

Creating greater awareness is one of the benefits of an election.

Candidate Ashley Murray questioned Cape district’s focus on, and embrace of, diversity, inclusion and equity as important components of a public education system. She associated it with the Critical Race Theory concept bubbling in academia and societal discussions for the past few years. The theory promotes a deep examination of racism in our culture to develop a greater understanding of its impact in our lives so we can begin to move beyond the problems it creates.

And she questioned whether House Bill 198, passed by the Delaware House of Representatives and awaiting action in the Senate, is an outgrowth of Critical Race Theory and amounts to a form of indoctrination of our children that should be resisted.

According to a synopsis, the proposed legislation as first introduced requires each school district and charter school to establish and implement a curriculum on Black History for students in grades K through 12. This Act incorporates contemporary events into discussions of Black History and the tools of experience.” Sussex County representatives split in their voting. Steve Smyk and Pete Schwartzkopf voted in favor of the bill; Rich Collins, Tim Dukes, Ron Gray and Jesse Vanderwende voted no; and Ruth Briggs King recorded as not voting.

Those interested in Critical Race Theory can find lots of articles on the internet. We will also try to keep readers posted on the status and ultimate fate of HB 198.

Most people, I think, have a pretty good grip on diversity and inclusivity, and the positive nature of both. But what about equity?  

I had to dig a little deeper to get my head around equity, especially relative to equality. They sound similar, but it turns out that in societal and educational terms, they are quite different.

The artwork included with this column does a pretty good job of illustrating the difference between equality and equity. Simply put, we all might get equal access to tools available for accomplishing a task, but that equal access still doesn’t guarantee that each of us, because of our differences, will get an equitable shot at accomplishing the task.

According to information provided by Superintendent Bob Fulton, here is how the Cape district has defined educational equity for the past three years:

“Educational equity is accepting the unique qualities of each student in order to ensure fair treatment of all students to raise achievement. Differences are celebrated and recognized as strengths that serve to enrich the group as a whole. Embracing these growth opportunities and recognizing the unique challenges they present enable Cape Henlopen educators to better assess individual student needs and provide the necessary supports to overcome potential barriers to academic, behavioral, and/or social/emotional success and wellness.”

Fulton provided examples of how the Cape district incorporates educational equity into its programs:

“When a student is struggling emotionally, the schools and the district ensure that the student receives counseling or proper supports.

“When a student is doing well academically, but is taking college prep courses, our teachers and administrators will encourage them to take higher-level courses such as honors classes and/or Advanced Placement courses.

“Our district provides a wide range of extracurriculars and course offerings to allow students to have a choice and to have varied experiences inside the classroom.

”Our district ensures that all students are included and have access to grade-level curriculum and standards, including our special education students and our English Language Learners.”

I don’t have a problem with any of this, while being wary and realistic about the efforts of extremists from all directions who glory in planting and cultivating seeds of divisiveness, and try to take things too far.

I look forward to many generations from now when the melting pot of nature will gradually dissolve our focus and fears associated with race and gender so, as the avatar Meher Baba instructs, we can begin to reap the rewards of a rich, cooperative life that recognizes the unity of all life.

It’s the Goldilocks approach: seeking that sweet spot of just right.  






Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter