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Equity and Merit Should Coexist

I’m dismayed by recent news about FCPS…that delayed paper certificates are taking priority over critical needs of all of our students and that the loudest voices are using this as yet another opportunity to pit “equity” against “merit” as if they are mutually exclusive.

If merit is “the quality of being good and deserving to be praised or rewarded,” then each student should have merit in the eyes of our schools, no matter their PSAT scores. Unfortunately, some only focus on test scores to determine merit, which leaves disabled, dyslexic, English language learners, and so many others behind.

My dyslexic child does not test well as reflected by her low SOLs, but she has great grades, works hard, is happy, and is kind to others. When she applies to college, I want schools to look at the whole child (extracurriculars, challenges, effort, and grades), not just some arbitrary test score. Even my son whose scores are off the charts should not be judged just by his PSAT scores. My kids are more than their test scores. All of our kids are more than their test scores.

I want you to pursue "Equal outcomes for every student, without exceptions," because we, as a community, should work toward the best possible outcomes for each and every student. To achieve that goal, equity comes into play, giving each student the support and resources they need, whether it is reading support for dyslexics, team taught classes, or extra testing time. Equity recognizes that we do not all start from the same place and that additional resources can bring students up. Equity means meeting each student by name and by need to ensure that they are able to succeed in school and life.

This is hard, but necessary work. Nevertheless, I feel blessed to be in a school system that treats both my AAP and IEP kids with respect, by ensuring that they each receive the level of support they need so that they can both succeed.

Vanessa Hall's input to the School Board on January 12, 2023 can be viewed on her personal page, Vanessa cares about Public Education. All public input from the meeting can be found here.

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