Equity Policies

1. The goals set forth by the New York State Board of Regents are very noble and well intentioned for the betterment of American society. Setting goals as ambitious as this one is one thing while realizing these goals is another difficult task. There are many factors to be considered in the mapping out of action plans to pursue these goals. As required in this write-up, the analysis will be based on applicable equity policies that may serve as the basis in the realization of these equity goals.

The first goal states that “all children will come to school ready to learn. ” This goal presupposes child-readiness which can only be provided by the home. This goal undermines the social equity policy whereby each student has the right to admission to institutions of learning with or without the exhibited readiness to learn. This goal seems to readily condemn a student before even showing his or her capability to learn. Within this parameter, the goal is not realistic and it is discriminatory.

The second goal states that “all children will read, write, compute, and use the thinking skills they need to continue learning by the time they are in the fourth grade or its equivalent. ” While this goal is a good hallmark of learning, it is nonetheless discriminatory as there are several drivers to achieve the same such as the student’s capacity to learn, the teacher’s ability to impart knowledge and learning, the school environment, the method of instruction, the aptness of the curriculum, the appropriateness of the test measures, and such other economic, social, and health factors.

Thus, its realization is not wholly dependent upon the student’s capability to learn and being such, it would go beyond the right to education if a student is denied the opportunity for further learning, which thus violates the equal learning opportunity for all. The third goal states that “at least 90 percent of all young people will earn a high school diploma by the age 21. ” This goal is measurable and strategic. However, the accuracy of its projected estimates expressed in percentage and the age requirement should be supported by historical data.

Otherwise, it would be arbitrary on the part of school boards and the government to impose a certain standard which may not be achievable. Along this line of thinking, the social equity to impart learning would be compromised when the burden of reaching this goal would be placed upon teachers and schools. Thus, to pursue this strategic goal of achieving 90% successful high school education by age 21, the school boards of the State of New York, need to establish uniform guidelines and parameters to ensure that all of them contribute to the realization of the 90% goal.

However, there are two equity policies which may be ticklish on this matter and these are the academic freedom equity and social equity. By academic freedom, schools are free to determine the standards and the curricula which they see fit in imparting knowledge and learning to students. So that when school boards would be required to agree on certain standards, guidelines and parameters to achieve the 90% goal, the equity on academic freedom may be invoked by some. In effect, the goal of 90% may be compromised.

Another issue would dwell on the social equity policy where teachers and schools have the equal opportunity to employ and utilize methods of instructions which they see fit in the realization of school goals. Thus, there may be some schools which would oppose the imposition of uniform standards, guidelines, and parameters to achieve the 90%. In other words, the participation of all schools to pursue this 90% goal may be met with opposition, perhaps not by state-run schools, but on private institutions.

Along this line of reasoning, the 90% goal may be discriminatory as students may not be placed on equal footing, equal standards, and equal opportunities. The fourth goal states that all high school graduates will be prepared for college, work, or both. This goal is somehow discriminatory in the sense that graduates of high school are already pre-judged for college, for work, or for both. It is common knowledge that high school is only the preparation for college life and it is only upon graduation from college that any student is fit to pursue a work career.

By aiming for work after high school is tantamount to saying that a student is not worth to admission in college or that his or her economic circumstances in life would not afford him or her that covetous college education. This violates the human right to education which provides the individual’s right to a free and compulsory elementary education, an access to high school education and the right to pursue college education (UNESCO and UNICEF, 2007).

The succeeding goals which we can label as “standards goals”: a) 5th goal – all high school graduates will demonstrate proficiency in English and another language, in mathematics, the natural sciences, and technology, in history and other social sciences, and in the arts and other humanities; b) 6th goal – all students will acquire the skills and knowledge needed for employment and effective citizenship; c) 7th goal – all students will demonstrate commitment to the core values of our democratic society and knowledge of the history and culture of the major groups which comprise American society and the world; and lastly, d) 8th goal – students of both genders and all socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds will show similar achievement on State assessment measures, are all measurable and realistic standards which require proper planning, effective cascading to all stakeholders, and careful and deliberate implementation and monitoring. These goals are supportive of the individual right to good education and the right to equal opportunity for learning. It also supports the equal opportunity to the right to be employed in the future (Beiter, 2005).

School performance is always subject to at least six inequalities, namely, family status inequality, school resource inequality, bias toward students from higher-income brackets, separation of students by reason of family status, academic freedom inequality, and school leadership inequality. These six inequalities deeply impacts on the kind of learning that students earn in schools (Chiu, 2009). The dominance of even just a single inequality would already place a considerable impact on a student’s learning capacity which we may be carried on even after leaving school and unto his or her adult life. Thus, the goals set by the State of New York as earlier discussed should address these inequalities to ensure that the 90% goal (the third goal) and the standards goals (the succeeding goals) would be realized. 2.

The campaign for fiscal equity as aptly raised in the CFE case against the State of New York is consistent with the 90% goal and the standards goals that were discussed in the foregoing paragraphs. The ultimate end of the campaign for fiscal equity is for the State to earmark funding in support of programs geared towards quality education which is the portal to equal opportunity to employment upon graduation. Without such earmarking, the equitable right to good and quality education would be denied. Thus, the courts acting in its role to ensure that equity is served, ruled in favor of the setting aside of public funds to finance and support educational programs to promote equity in learning.

In the Brown case, equal opportunity for learning was recognized when the courts decided on the desegregation of schools and thus affording equal opportunity for blacks and whites to be enrolled in the same schools as they may wish. While this case faced several oppositions and objections, the court held firm in its decision to provide equal opportunity for learning without regard for race, gender, and culture. The mere fact that color already segregates children by reason of societal preferences, the enactment of rules and guidelines that further segregates them at school would be the height of discrimination which negates the equal opportunity policy for all.

In the Zelman case, the public-funded private school choice was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court as it was shown that the case passed the five-part test on the following criteria, namely: the program has a valid secular purpose, the aid goes to the parents and not the school, there is a broad class of beneficiaries, the program is neutral with respect to religion, and there is adequate nonreligious options. The meat of the decision dwelt on equity to good education. It was understood that there were schools which failed in their standards of providing good education to children. Thus, the release of vouchers to parents and giving them the choice of other schools was upheld as constitutional and equitable. In all the three cases, the court finds for the complainants by upholding equity policies on equality before the law, equal opportunity for learning, social equity, and financial equity. The court, in its role as an equity law, properly and aptly put limits into what the schools would otherwise label as academic freedom.

There are limits to the exercise of one’s right as aptly summarized in the Justinian precepts which are still the basis of equity and civil law – “Honeste vivere, Alterum non laedere, Jus suum quique tribuere” translated as live honestly, do not injure others, and give everyone his due. All entities, natural and juridical, have rights and it is in the appropriate and mindful exercise of these rights that order in society is achieved. The State is the protector of all these rights by ensuring that appropriate legislations and funding to programs are provided efficiently and effectively. The Courts have rights to exercise their mandates within the limits of their jurisdictions with the end of serving justice through the utilization of equitable and relevant laws in all aspects of their decisions. Above all, all human beings have the superior rights granted by our Creator.

These are natural rights to life with integrity and dignity as may be provided by an environment which promotes the realization of these rights. The latter prevail over all the other human rights. QUESTION TWO: In our judicial system, the courts of law are mandated to hear cases based on facts, try cases based on the rules of court, and finally, decide cases based on the provisions of relevant laws. Equity, which has its roots from the English system, dictates that where there are no clear provisions of existing laws and where rights that are presumed violated equate more to societal rights rather than on monetary awards, the courts take cognizance of equity policies to ensure that the doctrine of equal opportunity for all men shall always be upheld.

Thus, unlike its English origins where there are two courts which try legal and equity cases, our present courts have the mandate to decide cases based on both law and equity (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 1938). The case of Arizona is a perfect example of interplay between law and equity. The federal court of Arizona took cognizance of the case when it was brought at its first instance by the parents and students of the Nogales Unified School District of Arizona (NUSD) against the State of Arizona, members of the State Board of Education, and the State Superintendent of public instruction alleging that the latter violated the Equal Education Opportunity Act of 1974 (EEOA) by failing to take appropriate action to overcome learning barriers for English-language learning (ELL) students in the school district.

The federal court, based on equity, decided in favor of NUSD when it directed the defendants to take appropriate action to address the issue. There was no objection to the decision as everyone understood that social equity mandates equal opportunity for learning. Thus, defendants initiated the required appropriate action to alleviate the observed gap in learning. However, the issue became muddled when the federal court subsequently mandated the State of Arizona to earmark funding to the promotion of ELL in the schools. Towards this decision, the State of Arizona presented its opposition on the argument that the federal court went beyond its authority and usurped legislative powers which properly pertained to the State of Arizona.

In this particular case, the federal court was well within its mandate when it directed the State of Arizona to earmark funding to promote ELL in the schools. Without this latter direction, the former decision of the federal court was weak and without “teeth. ” What is and what is not appropriate has not been defined. By requiring the earmarking of funds, the federal court clarified and defined the appropriate action towards which the State of Arizona should pursue. The federal court did not go beyond its jurisdiction to ensure that equity is served and sustained (Sereboff v Mid Atlantic, 2006). Equity dictates that the federal court defines the appropriate action which the defendants should take in order to address the issue regarding ELL.

The federal court did not grant or award any damages or monetary benefit to any entity or individual which would make the decision out of bounds. The federal court merely defined and clarified its decision and established parameters upon which the actions of the State of Arizona could be measured as to its appropriateness. The meaning and interpretation of the federal court’s decision which mandated the State of Arizona and the school boards to implement appropriate actions to address the issue on ELL could not be left to the latter. This would be totally arbitrary and capricious. Thus, the subsequent clarified decision directing the defendants to earmark funding for the ELL program completed the federal court’s duty to ensure that equity is served thereby.

Along this line and within this context, the decision of the federal court should be upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court. REFERENCES UNESCO & UNICEF. A Human rights-based Approach to Education for All. 2007. pp 7. http://unesdoc. unesco. org/images/0015/001548/154861E. pdf. Beiter, Klaus Dieter. The Protection of the Right to Education by International Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. 2005. Chiu, M. M. “Equal learning opportunities, higher test scores: Inequality mechanisms that reduce science achievement in 41 countries. ” American Sociological Association, New York City Online. 2009. http://www. allacademic. com/meta/p183637_index. html] Sereboff v. Md Atlantic Medical Services, Inc. U. S. May 15, 2006.