IEPs and 504s at UAHS can be made more equitable. Here’s what we suggest.
BY EDITORIAL BOARD
Equality is idyllic, and something that most people strive for, but seeing that we live in an inherently unequal society, it is unattainable at this period in time. This is largely due to the fact that social systems aren’t naturally inequitable — they are rooted in discriminatory practices and beliefs intentionally designed to reward specific demographics. It is because of this that we must turn our focus to equity.
“Equity” and “equality” are not synonymous. Equality means providing the same resources and opportunities for everyone under the assumption that everyone is starting at the same level to reach the same outcome. Equity, however, recognizes that due to external factors some communities need more help than others to achieve the same outcomes. In social and racial justice movements, equality can actually increase inequities in communities as not every group of people needs the same resources or opportunities allocated to them in order to thrive.
Student access to IEPs and 504s is an example of an equitable solution to an unequal situation. The American educational system is not adaptable enough to create equal learning opportunities for all students, seeing as every student has a different learning style and classroom presence. The use of accommodations in the 504 and IEP plans allows for students to gain access to the same level of education as their peers, despite certain ailments that may have derailed them in the past.
Despite this, however, access to equitable learning environments is still something that all schools, including our own, continue to struggle with.
As an organization, we, the staff of Arlingtonian, have a responsibility to use our platform to advocate for changes within our community to improve the livelihoods of those around us.
Because of this, we suggest that teachers be better trained in how to support a student with an IEP or 504, and allow students some form of documented recourse if teachers do not respect their accommodations. Additionally, students should be informed of their ability to apply for an IEP or 504 plan, as many students are not aware of their existence, and if they would benefit from one.
In order to achieve an equal society, we must first maintain one that is equitable. We cannot fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all students without first implementing equal access for all students.