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The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) Hosts First Advancing Equity Symposium

Posted on 11/30/2016

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On Oct. 31, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education hosted its first Advancing Equity Symposium to support the increased emphasis the Obama Administration is giving to equity for all populations across the education spectrum. The symposium featured a keynote address by Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., a discussion with senior Department of Education officials on advancing equity through federally funded initiatives, a variety of smaller sessions addressing issues and concerns regarding equity, a discussion of “implicit bias” and “systemic inequities,” and a panel of students on their experiences with equity.

A number of central themes were presented; beginning with Secretary King’s opening remarks emphasizing the need for enhancing equity of access, quality, and results in order to help more Americans achieve their academic, career, and civic goals. This, the secretary acknowledged, is a formidable challenge because equity concerns affect many diverse groups of students—first generation and low-income students; students of color; older students facing the challenge of juggling jobs, families, and education; and returning students intent on completing their education goals.

The symposium also focused on how best to serve these various groups of students. Several speakers acknowledged that while much has been done to promote equity in access, quality, and results, much more remains to be done. Inequity persists in many dimensions of education. Students in poverty attend high-poverty schools at a much higher rate than their more affluent peers. Less experienced and less qualified teachers often are concentrated in schools and districts serving low-income students. High-poverty schools tend to offer less well-rounded curricula and fewer advanced courses. It therefore is no surprise that affluent students attend and graduate from college at significantly higher rates than their lower-income peers. Access is not enough. Access without quality perpetuates the inequity that low-income students encounter.

Matters that affect low-income students overlap with those facing first generation students; students with limited English language proficiency; students with disabilities; older students; and other groups that struggle to achieve the same access, quality, and results as their more-advantaged peers. The disparities persist beyond schooling. Employer-provided training tends to focus on college graduates, with much less training provided to those employees with limited college experience or only a high school diploma, or those who did not complete secondary schooling. Adult education, while available to a limited number of those needing assistance, does not have the capacity to make up the large differences that exist.

Symposium participants pointed to efforts that are being made to overcome the equity gap, but as a whole, these efforts remain inadequate in both scope and quality. Both the need and the challenge are great. Achieving equity of access, quality, and results are key goals to our success as a nation and to the success of all Americans.

For more information, visit the LINCS Community Advancing Equity website External link opens in new window or tab .

Source: OCTAE Connection 524 External link opens in new window or tab , November 17 2016