Education leaders are moving to a different conception of what it means to preserve the promise of equity in public schools, according to Claus von Zastrow, executive director of Learning First Alliance (LFA). A 2021 vision of equity would be that all students have the widest view of choices before them. “Someone’s socioeconomic background should not determine education level or career choice or life enrichment,” von Zastrow said.

Preserving the promise of equity is emerging as a top strategic issue for the Vision 2021 project. NAESP is one of 17 national education organizations in LFA, which recently reviewed the key policy documents of its member organizations to prepare for a March 2007 summit on the future of public education. Equity is a common thread among the leading education organizations.

LFA has advocated for staffing high poverty schools with high performance leaders. “The poorest kids and children of color are more likely to get leaders and teachers who are less experienced and paid less,” von Zastrow said.

LFA has also found through its public opinion research that equal opportunity is fundamental. “The public really believes that equal opportunity is one of the primary goals of public education. It is one of the reasons why we need public education,” he said.

“Equity is an evolving conversation. Equity does not necessarily mean that we give everyone equal resources. It does mean we make sure that all students get resources adequate to their educational needs,” von Zastrow said.