Austin Independent School District (AISD) recently decided to block financial support from PTAs for student enrichment resources, including extra staff positions such as reading and math specialists. Those PTAs supported more affluent schools whereas PTAs at other schools could not afford such student enrichment resources.
So, in the name of “equity,” AISD blocked the more affluent PTAs from providing those educational resources to students. If all students did not have access to those resources, none of them would.
AISD’s decision reminded me of an experience I had as a boy scout growing up. Let me explain.
An adult hike leader took a group of about eight boys on a hike through some rugged Texas terrain on a sunny and hot summer day. About the time we should have completed the hike, the leader announced that he was lost. None of us knew the way either, although we all had ideas about which way was “out.”
All of us were extremely thirsty at this point, including the hike leader, but only one boy had a canteen with water. His entrepreneurial mind decided to sell swigs of water for a nickel apiece. But . . . some boys had money and others did not. The hike leader decided this situation was not fair, took the boy’s canteen, and poured all of the water out. In the name of “equity,” all would be lost and needing water.
There we were, hot, tired, thirsty, lost, and . . . out of any water for anyone in the group. Of course, the wise thing the hike leader should have done was to figure out a way that all the boys could have water even though some could not pay for it.
What AISD should have done was to thank the parents financially supporting the affluent schools and make sure that the less affluent schools could also benefit from the same types of resources. But it seems like the drive for equity too often makes equity at the level of the “have nots” rather than the “haves.”
Lifting up students should be the work of all school districts and PTAs, as well as parents and the State of Texas. And here is a suggestion how: use some of the $5.5 billion of federal pandemic aid Texas is distributing to schools to make sure that all students have the necessary resources available to succeed.