On Standards and Diversity

Embracing Diversity

A good education is an education that is accessible to everyone, and to everyone at the same quality. The result is an equality that we have come to expect in our lives. But we also have come to expect a recognition of diversity, the very antithesis of equality. To provide equal education to a diverse student population thus requires to define precisely what we mean by equality and what we mean by diversity.

All men are created equal. This is the insight of centuries of fighting for liberty and freedom for all. And yet we all have different experiences. We are in fact not equal by birth or by opportunity. We are diverse in every sense of the imagination except of course for the rights enshrined in the Constitution - the right to be treated equally before the law. Beyond these political rights, we cherish diversity on the bases of inclusiveness rather than discrimination. In real life, this distinction seems not always possible or even desired. We use words like equal opportunity, but also affirmative action, color blindness, but also ethnic diversity. The common denominator is offering the same opportunities, without suppressing the right to express individual differences, differences that are largely rooted in group associations. We are all unique individuals in search of independence. Yet we stop if the price of equality is the loss of identity with our family, ethnic group, religious belief, or communal activities.

Next: The right to a free public education

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Copyright © 2000-2008 Lukas K. Buehler