That's Not Fair!

Students will experience the effects of unequal resources on student achievement, share their thoughts about educational disparities and take action to bring about change.

Art Activity
Provide half the class with cover stock, a good box of crayons and quality scissors. Give the other half of the class notebook paper, poor quality scissors and one crayon each. Have students cut out and color people shapes to create realistic "Me" paper dolls (PDF). Repeat the activity swapping resources so all students get to experience the activity with low-quality and high-quality resources. Display the artwork.

Round Robin

Quickly go around the room asking the students to respond to the following questions (response is optional).

  • Did the scissors, paper and crayons make a difference in the activity?
  • Which of your people do you like better?
  • How did you feel when you were trying to complete the project using notebook paper, one crayon and scissors that didn't work well?
  • Is it fair for some students to have better materials than others?

Facilitate a discussion about the ways inequality of resources affect student achievement.

  • What if my school had brand-new books every year and your school got my used books? Is that fair? Why?
  • What if my school gave your sports team our old used uniforms every year and we got brand new ones?
  • What if my school had lots of balls to play with at recess and your school had none?
  • What if my school had teachers that won awards for teaching and had taught for years and your school had new teachers who had never taught before? Would that be fair?
  • What if my school had a library with thousands of new books and your school had a library with just a few old worn out books? Would that be fair?
  • What if my school had a computer center in each classroom with five new computers and your school's classrooms didn't have any computers?

What actions can be taken to make education fair and equal for all students?

Choose 1 or 2 of the ideas to develop into a plan of action.

Facilitate the action plan.


Quality and size of paintbrushes, magic markers and other materials can be used for a variety of activities to model the importance of adequate and equal resources to support equal achievement.

Students can be asked to research and write a report. Let some students use the Internet and have others rely on outdated books.