So, I feel like I'm kind of cheating on this one. While I was waiting for the link to follow Monday night's class on ustream, I was poking around profiles on Twitter. I stumbled upon a blog that our Fearless Leader (Dave) kept about a year ago. As I was perusing his writing, I read a post that he had written about equal access, and it really hit home for me. So, I feel like I'm kind of cheating because I really liked one of his phrases, and (although it's similar to one that I use in my classroom) I'm kind of sticking by that philosophy:
Equal access is about teaching them to drive, not buying them a car.
The reality of a classroom situation is that you see a student (along with 20-some others) for a fraction of their day. You can do everything in your power to make that fraction as productive, meaningful, engaging, valuable, and whatever-else-you'd-like-to-make-it as possible. But, when that child goes home, they are faced with a much stronger influence that you will not be able to control. And, equal access has to be about providing the same tools to all of your students, not providing the same goods, services, or situations.
It would be nice if every student had a functional laptop with Internet access and all that jazz, but it's not a reality. I'll hearken Maslow by saying that it'd be even better if every student had a warm bed to sleep in, hot water to shower with, breakfast each morning, and a hug on the way out the door, but that's not a reality either. So, equal access in education has to be about providing the same opportunities, and allowing and encouraging students to make the choices about what to do (if anything) with the opportunities that have been provided for them.