One student organization is fighting for every child to have the right tools for success.
Students for Educational Equity is an advocacy organization with the goal of raising awareness about equity issues in the K-12 education system, Christina Allen, a third-year in human nutrition and international development and the club’s president, said. For the past two years, the club has focused primarily on issues within the Columbus, Ohio, school system.
Tziporah Tiller, a third-year in public affairs and political science and the club’s co-events chair, said it’s important to distinguish between equality and equity, especially when dealing with a school system like Columbus City Schools. Tiller said equality implies offering everyone the same resources, regardless of individual need. Equity means allocating resources where they will have the most effect.
“It’s just really unfortunate, right? Because it’s not a problem with the students at all. And you can see the students have a lot of potential and they’re ready to work really hard, but they’re just not given the tools to do so,” Julia Allwein, a second-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and political science and the club’s policy chair, said.
The club helps its members find volunteering opportunities in schools, internships and research positions, but the group’s main focus is to find advocacy work that can create change within the Columbus community, Allen said.
She said the club has worked with March for Our Lives Columbus, the local chapter of a national anti-gun violence organization, and has spoken at the Ohio Statehouse on the school-to-prison pipeline, the tendency for harsh disciplinary policies in underfunded schools to funnel children into the prison system.
The club hosts an event called Edx each semester, which invites a panel of speakers to discuss various issues in education, Tiller said.
She said past semesters’ discussions have focused on immigration experiences in schools, mental health problems in higher education and issues within Columbus City Schools.
“This semester, we’re doing Edx Criminal Justice, which I’m very excited about,” Tiller said. “We’re basically going to be looking at issues like the school-to-prison pipeline, the juvenile justice system, how the police force can be more equitable when they’re serving these communities.”
Allwein graduated from Columbus City Schools and said she has seen firsthand the disproportionate allocation of resources to Columbus’ inner-city school districts compared with suburban neighborhood school districts.
Allwein said there are funding disparities among school districts, largely due to tax differences in different areas.
Students for Educational Equity meetings are at 7 p.m. Thursdays in the Ohio Union Capital City Room, and Edx Criminal Justice will take place at 6 p.m. March 27 in the Raney House Boulder Room. Admission is free.