Equity is synonymous with fairness and is a contested concept. It outlines the parameters of both our moral obligations and ethical responsibilities as a community. The essence of equity is a focus on the distribution of valued resources, both tangible and intangible. In education finance discussions, the concept of equity goes beyond the allocation of dollars to include what those dollars buy, how those resources are used, and who benefits from the resources. When systemic gaps emerge in school funding, educational processes, or student achievement, we want to know why.

Ideally, gaps are for legitimate reasons rather than a systemic flaw that results in discrimination against particular groups. For example, we typically consider funding gaps to be legitimate if those groups who have fewer family resources ...

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