When we all have access to the same information and opportunities, we start in the same place. For as long as this country has existed, the United States has never had an equal starting place.
Of course, we’re not alone in this. Countries around the world have defined or subtle class and caste systems, where people, based on their place of birth and family origin, have different opportunities available to them.
It may be time to review this idea in America and make changes for the betterment of all of our people.
In this, Black History Month, we reckon with the inadequacies in access that African Americans have faced throughout our history.
In its guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), says, “Including all learners and ensuring that each individual has an equal and personalized opportunity for educational progress is still a challenge in almost every country. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4…emphasizes inclusion and equity as laying foundations for quality education and learning.”
From a Higher Ed perspective, diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial to creating career possibilities for all Americans. It’s tough to make many college campuses diverse and truly equitable, but it’s an effort worth undertaking.
(Here’s an intriguing podcast about diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.)
Many universities are appointing Diversity Officers to lead initiatives on campus. Programs welcoming first-generation college students provide support for the radical changes such students will face, without family support or understanding. And high schools are recognizing how important higher ed is for true career growth and preparing their students more and more to be ready for university.
At Cleary, we are conscious of our role in furthering diversity and inclusion in higher ed. Located in a small town in the middle of Michigan, with a campus in the heart of Detroit, we want people to know everyone is welcome in our programs.
The biggest struggle we face as a country is getting every American student to the brink of higher learning. Journeying through the K-12 process and feeling confident, ready, and able to afford what comes next is crucial to move America forward.
We provide institutional aid and merit money to most students who come to Cleary. Our Courage & Public Service Scholarship provides a 50 percent tuition grant to first responders, public safety employees, civil servants, and others, and we partner with corporations to provide education as a benefit to their employees.
Since our earliest days, education has been a key American value. Colonists made it a law that children must be taught to read, write and learn a skill to secure economic independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people … they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Many Americans believe that education is the key to equal opportunity, justice, a healthy democracy, collective action, and personal success.
With a nearly 140-year legacy of providing higher education in out-of-the-box and revolutionary ways, Cleary is a place where our leaders are determined to find a way to make education accessible and possible for as many people as we can.