Monday, November 14, 2005

Disparities - A Concern for All of Us

Disparities – social, economic – along with differences in access to resources, health care. Such conditions have existed throughout human history. Disparities produce frustration and unrest; riots in the suburbs of Paris provide some of the latest visible evidence of the consequences of this frustration. Violence is not justified; but in conditions of chronic disparity, it is understandable.

In today’s society, we need to be concerned about disparities among cultural, racial, religious and economic groups. These include differences in academic achievement, differences in access to health care, differences in access to employment and in opportunities to create wealth.

The less visible consequences of disparities may have more detrimental consequences than do riots or crime. In the U.S., younger generations must have the ability to take positions in business, government, and nonprofit organizations – maintaining a high quality of life for all of us. As our population diversifies, this means that younger people of all types must have the training, background, and motivation to move into adult roles in society – some of them into leadership roles.

At Wilder Research, for at least 15 years, we have been concerned about the educational achievement gap. Dan Mueller's paper, Tackling the Achievement Gap Head On, identifies issues and approaches for all of us to consider.

An interesting regional resource and initiative to watch is the Itasca Project’s initiative on disparities.

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