Impossible Equity

We all would agree that parents who try to engineer equity (i.e. equality of outcomes) among their children are abusive, right? Demanding that a child excel at math and play the violin like her sibling or learn to read at the same age is wrong. Children are different, even when they are born in the same family. Even identical twins don’t have the same interests and talents.

So if even parents, the people who have the greatest impact on who we become, are utterly incapable of engineering equity, does it make sense to expect schools or politicians to do it?

Equality of rights and opportunities is a noble goal. But equality of outcome is impossible and ridiculous.

6 thoughts on “Impossible Equity

  1. I do agree with you in principle, however, let me play the devil’s advocate for a moment here. What if we are talking about the equity of outcomes across the populations rather than at an individual level? So across a population of X people, you would expect the same proportion of people to excel at math as across a population of Y people, if your X and Y samples are large enough and they are exposed to the same opportunities.

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    1. Across populations, we have genetic differences, cultural, historical, all sorts of things. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to learn to make borscht like a Ukrainian does it. 🙂

      Speaking of borscht, when I had diabetes, the doctors strictly forbade borscht. But I still ate it, and my blood sugar remained perfect. The genetic memory kicks in, and the food doesn’t have the same effect it would on anybody else.

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      1. I think the problem is that we are not allowed to discuss the cultural and historical difference unless it is to point out some kind of injustice and let’s not even start with genetics… On one side, people are happy to order all kinds of “where I am from” genetic tests with the exact breakdown of 10% German, 0.5% Irish, etc., but you better not point out that there may be common genetic traits across populations.

        There is a widespread theory where I come from that the best food to eat for babies or even adults is the food that grows where you are from. For example, if apples and pears grow in your country, you would be much better off eating them (or feeding them to your child) than mangoes and citrus fruit that you have to import from somewhere else. It does make sense. However, I got this same advice from my family when we found out that my little one has a lot of food allergies. The trouble is that my husband and I are from two very different countries situated on two different continents, living in a third country. Each of the three places grows different food. I still have no clue what to do with that advice.

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  2. The only way to create equity is to find the lowest possible common denominator. Mow down the fast growing grass so it’s not taller than the slower growing grass. Should equity apply to children with learning disabilities? Should we handicap typically developing children to make sure no one achieves more than they can? How does it help society to hold children back? Instead we should help each child maximize their potential and their gifts.

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    1. And even then it’s not going to work. Tsarist Russia and then late-stage USSR severely curtailed the number of Jews who were allowed to get higher education. And still Jews were vastly overrepresented because they learned to ace the much more difficult entrance exams they were given to weed them out.

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  3. And we’re so far from there being equality of opportunity! There’s so much work to be done, we don’t need to bring in this “equity” distraction.

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