Notes on freedom of speech at Horace Mann

Ryan Finley:

A perfect example would be the equality versus equity comparison. Every junior and senior is well acquainted with this cartoon graphic; the school makes sure of it in Seminar on Identity. For those who are not familiar with it, spectators of different heights watch a baseball game from behind a fence. On one side, labeled “Equality,” each spectator stands on a box of similar size. As a result, only the tallest can see the game. On the other side, labeled “Equity,” the shorter spectators are supplied with appropriately sized boxes so that everyone can watch the game from an equal vantage point. As the tallest spectator can see over the fence without a box, they receive none. Everyone is exposed to the graphic at some point during their HM education and told to recognize the inherent superiority of the equity model. In other words, equity is taught as a moral imperative.

The gravity of the graphic’s message is easy to miss. When it’s displayed to students, the struggle between the two choices is made cartoonishly simple, literally. The choice of equity seems so plainly obvious that if you argue for equality, it appears as if you are an elitist who doesn’t want people without certain resources to enjoy their lives. There is never any dynamic discussion on the real effects of either choice. Equality and equity are philosophies on access, but the real pros and cons of choosing one over the other, details which are decidedly complex and unable to be reduced to childish cartoons, are practically ignored. When the principle of the sports game is applied to the real world, it proposes either a rejection of meritocracy, or a denial that it exists in the first place. This approach gets students bogged down in a false impression of simplicity, leading to such conclusions on meritocracy that frequently include: the system is broken, unable to be reformed, rotten to the core, and deserving of demolition.