Fair Elementary School's Book Giveaway Shows Commitment to Equity

When a school like Fair Elementary School decides to replace their traditional Book Fair with an in-school Book Giveaway, it shows that they are committed to giving students from low-income families an equal opportunity.

The best schools understand the power of a positive culture to help all students succeed. Here are some ways you can start that conversation with your child's school.

Empowering Minds

A renaissance of learning at Fair Elementary School is the result of a school-wide rebirth. The school's interdisciplinary approach to instruction addresses the multiple intelligences and integrates the arts and technology.

In addition, a renewed focus on faith and service builds students' confidence in their ability to make a difference. Students volunteer at the annual Thanksgiving food drive, participate in senior lunches and donate their time to the local food pantry.

This lesson is based on the common statement heard during elementary school, "That's not fair!" It is important to teach students that fair does not always mean equal. Whether they are sharing materials, playing at recess or being treated by a doctor, it is important to help them understand that we all have different needs and that treating everyone the same doesn't always equal fairness.

Band-Aid Lessons

One elementary school teacher has figured out how to help kids understand fairness and equity. She uses Band-Aids as a way to explain the concept to her students in an eye-opening video that has gone viral.

Aimee Scott, a third-grade teacher in Utah, shared the lesson on her TikTok channel and now it has gained over 3.7 million views. She explains that the lesson helps kids “get it” when they see one student getting something others don’t.

In the video, she asks her students if they’ve ever bumped their head and a lot of them raise their hands. She calls on one of them to share their story and after they’re done, she gives them a band-aid.

She repeats the same process for a scraped knee and again, a lot of kids raise their hands. She tells one of them her story, says she’s sorry and places a band-aid on their elbow. This simple exercise helps her students realize that fairness means not giving everyone the same thing and not treating them all the same.

Empathy Quizzes

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person's emotions. It is one of the most fundamental social skills for young children and a key determinant in their future success.

Research has shown that schools that emphasize empathetic teaching and practices enjoy better classroom management and more time for learning. They also see greater teacher efficacy and retention.

Empathy is the capacity to experience and understand the feelings of others, without becoming overwhelmed or reacting in a way that's unkind. It's also a protective factor for offensive behaviors like bullying.

Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a vital part of any education program. It teaches kids the skills they need to manage their emotions and make good decisions, to get along with others, and to resolve conflicts respectfully.

SEL has been shown to reduce problem behaviors and create a more harmonious school environment. It can also help kids develop the "soft skills" necessary for job success, like teamwork and problem-solving.

Many educators in schools, including those at Fair Elementary School, are promoting social-emotional learning. Their school-wide events and publications use the language of SEL, and students are taught about the benefits of positive relationships and responsible decision-making.

But there are still plenty of critics, especially those who argue that SEL is a feel-good, non-core subject that should be left to licensed therapists or kids' parents. If educators can disentangle SEL from CRT, and include parents in the process of choosing programs, they'll be better positioned to avoid these controversies, says Aaliyah Samuel, the president of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).