Equity, equality and access are pertinent issues that have a considerable bearing on the education of K-12 school going pupils in the United States. The state of Pennsylvania has adopted strategies and policies tailored to ensure that students have equal access to educational facilities and resources (OpenCongress, 2014). This paper discusses the organizational structure and the structure of governance adopted by the state of Pennsylvania in addressing educational equality concerns. Subsequently, it presents an analysis of the policies of the state with regard to funding of the equality projects and concludes with a discussion on the effects of equal access to education.
Organizational & Governance Structure
The structure adopted in the United States of America in terms of the laws and regulations governing issues that relate to equity, equality and access to education are geared towards addressing disparities that may be as a result of these three pertinent aspects. According to American law, educational equality is the guarantee that all students irrespective of their differences receive impartial treatment and equal access to programs offered by the education system. These laws are particularly tailored to ensure that children and minorities who do not have access to education are provided with it. Hence, access to education by law is a fundamental right of any citizen of the US (OpenCongress, 2014).
The components of educational equality encompass seven crucial elements in ensuring that the equal treatment of students. These include; Access, Materials, Instruction, Attitudes, Interactions, Language, and Assessment. First, Access relates to the essential element of making it feasible for students to use educational resources and facilities. Instruction refers to the element of equity in the instruction given to all students at the same level i.e. no special treatment. Thirdly, materials are concerned with the provision of the same materials to all students while Attitudes relate to exclusion of bias and bigotry of any kind from the learning environment. In relation to interactions, equality laws in education propose that positive interactions should be the priority of the learning outcomes. Hence, good behavior should be awarded and reinforced while the contrary penalized. Similarly, equality in education requires that the language used is proper and standard for all students. Finally, equality in education requires that students be assessed on the fair basis in a safe and proper learning environment (OpenCongress, 2014).
The Pennsylvania department of education does not fall shortly of the commitment of the national government in ensuring that equality policies relating to education are adhered to. This is reminiscent in the pronouncement by the Pennsylvania department of education (PED) with regard to discrimination. The PED categorically states that it is dedicated to eliminating any discrimination in educational programs, activities, or employment practices based on national origin, race sexual orientation, religion, ancestors, etc. This commitment is guided by the enactment of state laws with reference to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Federal Law. It also incorporated Federal Law as stipulated in Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, Pennsylvania state laws also adhere to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Corbett, Dumaresq, Hans, Barnaby , & Baumer, 2013). Essentially, this structure that the PED advocates for is central in the achievement of the objectives of educational equality in the state of Pennsylvania. Principally, the concern of the PED is that the state adheres to laws stipulated in the PED policy regulations with respect to discrimination in the state of Pennsylvania. Notably, these laws only apply to public schools that are run by the state, private and homeschooling are hence not included in these financial policies. More importantly, the PED ensures that its local laws regarding equality in education are in tandem with those prescribes by national policies governing the United States on the issue of equality in education.
As earlier mentioned in the preceding section education policies regarding equality in K-12 education for the state of Pennsylvania are tailored to meet both local and national policy requirements. The state laws are cognizant of the history of the USA with regard to discrimination. Consequently, discrimination in the USA has in the past lead up to the development of various inequalities and bias treatment of minority groups. Pennsylvania state policies on this regard are tailored to address these inequalities by ensuring sustainability of equality initiatives in the state (OpenCongress, 2014).
Among the equality policies adopted by the state of Pennsylvania are laws regarding the distribution of finances meant for educational purposes that in essence and to a great extent address issues pertaining to inequality in education. Federal laws are tailored to ensure that no child is disadvantaged by the system of Elementary and Secondary Education. In this regard the PED ensures that the standards that are set academically are the same for all schools and children in the state (OpenCongress, 2014).
According to Baker, Sciarra & Farrie (2010), in the United States school funding, is unevenly distributed from the state to state. This unequal situation in the distribution of resources is attributable to the different local policies that are tailored to govern the distribution of financial resources to schools. Similarly, the number and variety of special needs of students in different states also contributes to the disparity in resource distribution.
In the state of Pennsylvania a total of 202 districts with an enrolment of 831, 805 students make financial resources constrained in meeting the objectives of equality in the education sector and these figures are just for the most disadvantaged in the states accounting for children rated to be from families rated to be under the 10% poverty index (Baker , Ciarra, & Farrie, 2010, p. 4). Notwithstanding the state of Pennsylvania has performed remarkably in addressing the inequality gap in education. Statistics shows that annual budgets per student fall short of the predicted requirements by just 5%. This percentage represents USD 11, 623 per student as the actual funds allocated to a student in the state against a projected requirement of USD 12, 282. This was efficient in achieving the objectives of the education system with regard to ensuring equality in the distribution of resources meant for educational purposes (Baker , Ciarra, & Farrie, 2010, p. 14).
The state of Pennsylvania has consistently employed the implementation of changes in its policies since the year 2007 that are majorly centered on reversing the regressive trend that was prior characteristic of inequality in educational funding for schools in the state. Leachman & Mai (2013, p. 2) observe that these policy reforms in the financial resource distribution was sparked by the events of the global financial downturn that was experienced in 2007-8. Projections indicate that these reforms play a central role in ensuring the sustainability of equality, equity and access to educational facilities for K-12 school going children in the state (Baker , Ciarra, & Farrie, 2010, p. 19).
Effects on Equity Equality and Access
The resultant effects of the efforts by PED in ensuring equality, equity and access to education for all Pennsylvania K-12 going children has majorly been the achievement of human rights advocates regarding educational rights for all school going children in the state. This outcome has taken close attention to collaboration between state functions and national functions in working together to achieve the aims of educational equality.
Consequently, achievement gap facts denote that access to education helps in mitigating social problems, in society. Statistics shows that the high school graduates live up to seven years longer than drop outs. Those crime rates have reduced where a 10% increase in high school graduations has been deemed to produce a 20% reduction in murder rates in the states. Vitally, that the efforts of policy makers in advancing equality in K-12 education produces a 10% annual enrollment of incoming freshmen at the Top 150 colleges from families that are financially disadvantaged (OpenCongress, 2014). Essentially, the policies on equality in education have produced success stories in the state of Pennsylvania as presented.
On matters pertaining to initiatives employed by the state to support the education equality program, the PED is comprised of non-partisan elected officials, civil rights leaders and educational reformers who are particularly concerned with improving the level of equity, equality and access to educational facilities in the state of Pennsylvania. This team is mainly dedicated to ensuring that all impediments to the successful implementation of laws and policies pertaining to equality in education are dealt with head on. Further, their commitment is as well concerned with addressing loopholes such as is in funding related issues to ensure accountability in the education system so as to effectively address the question of educational inequality in the state of Pennsylvania. In effect, all their effort is geared towards assuring that children are given equal opportunity by an equal chance at education that eventually shapes their future (OpenCongress, 2014).
The question on equity, equality and access to educational facilities and resources is a relevant inquiry into the social, political and economic structures that ensure fairness in the delivery of education services to students in K-12 school going age. Further, disparities that arise due to inequalities and differences among students are addressed to ensure that these do not compromise their chance at educational achievement. This paper has presented a detailed analysis on equity in K-12 schools, in the state of Pennsylvania. Among issues presented are the state policies that the PED has implemented towards ensuring equity in the education system. In addition, the structure of governance and implementation of these policies about important issues in equality such as financing of educational equality projects have also been discussed. Thirdly, the effects of the implementation of equality projects in education have also been presented. The paper finds that equity in education is central to the fulfillment of fundamental human rights of school going children. The state of Pennsylvania faces various challenges in ensuring that these rights and privileges are provided. Nonetheless, the state has put in place measures that are tailored to sustain the assurance of these rights and privileges as discussed.
Baker , B. D., Ciarra, D. G., & Farrie, D. (2010). Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card. Newark, N.J.: Education Law Center.
Corbett, T., Dumaresq, C. C., Hans, J., Barnaby , T., & Baumer, C. (2013). The Framework for Elementary and Secondary School Councilor Preparation Program Guidelines. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Leachman , M., & Mai, C. (2013). Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession. Wahington, DC: Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.
OpenCongress. (2014, February 27). Educational Equality Policies. Retrieved from opecongress.org: http://www.opencongress.org/wiki/Educational_equity_policies