This study explores teachers' perceptions of equity in education for students in four high-poverty elementary schools in Chicago. Teachers in high-poverty schools in Chicago regularly face dilemmas in serving high-need students with limited resources due to significant gaps in funding of metropolitan public schools. Literature on equity in education contains a broad range of criteria for defining justice in education, ranging from distributive criteria in the philosophical literature to concepts of equity pedagogy in the multicultural literature.
In this study, teachers were interviewed about their beliefs on fairness in the distribution of educational benefits to students in their classrooms and schools. The data was analyzed for emergent concepts and definitions of equity, and alignment of these perceptions with established concepts and definitions of equity in education in the literature. A range of conceptions of equity and practices of distributing educational benefits in classrooms were identified. Relationships between teachers' perceptions and their reported practices in the classroom were identified. Perceived inequities in education for their students were captured and compared with their assessments of students' fair chances of succeeding in their schools.
Although teachers had difficulty articulating clear concepts of equity in the interviews, consistent themes emerged. They consistently defined equity as meeting the needs of individual students. Teachers defined all students as having needs when talking conceptually, but discussed need as applying only to the lowest-performing students when reporting their actual practices in the classroom. Teachers believed that either a minimum threshold or an equal level of resources should be provided to all schools. Teachers' definitions of the terms equity, equality, educational benefits and need was ambiguous. Individual teachers at times reported conflicting concepts and definitions of equity, especially related to beliefs about the importance of meeting all students' individual needs and all schools having the same resources to deliver adequate educational programs.
Teachers and school administrators should discuss their perspectives and develop shared definitions of equity in education for all students in their schools. This discussion may provide consistent guidance to teachers in solving dilemmas in teaching highly diverse groups of students in low resource schools.
|Advisor:||Roemer, Robert E.|
|School:||Loyola University Chicago|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational sociology, Elementary education|
|Keywords:||Educational benefits, Elementary schools, Equality of educational opportunity, Equity, Equity in education, High-poverty, High-poverty schools, Teacher perceptions|
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