News Release

When it comes to education, most people strive for equality, but in the opinion of Dr. Sharon Reyes, equity should be the primary goal.

Trinity education professor Trina Vallone invited Reyes, her former mentor and professor at Saint Xavier University, to speak to a class of education students November 15 about the significance of understanding diversity and language barriers in the classroom. Reyes described the difference between equity and equality in the ways children learn in school, particularly children for whom English is not their original language.

"Equality focuses on educational opportunities, but equity focuses on educational outcomes," she said. "The bottom line is achievement, and if equity is the goal, then we should try to provide resources that allow children to learn in their native language."

Reyes specialized in bilingual and multicultural education while she completed her doctorate in curriculum design at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She designed and developed Saint Xavier's ESL/Bilingual Education Approval Program and has taught elementary and college students. When she finished addressing the class of adult studies and traditional students at the College, she urged them to remain sensitive to their students' individual situations when they begin their teaching careers.

"We must value the native language development of those children who are in the linguistic minority," Reyes said. "If we neglect that, their cognition may slow down because they're not giving any feedback. It also impacts their self-esteem, and the combination of those two is seen in their academic performance."

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