A few years ago one of my daughters said, “Mom, the worst thing you did when we were little was make us think that life was fair.” I remember thinking, “Wow, slap on the cuffs.”

I grew up in a house where might won over right, so with my own children I tried to make sure that every present, every treat, every privilege was equal as best I could. I may have gone a little overboard; the family joke is that I carefully counted and sorted the M&Ms before handing them out.

My daughter is right–life is not fair, at times shockingly so. Some babies hit the jackpot, some lose before they’re born; some will have the will power to change their luck, others will be defeated before they ever stand on their own two feet. I see it in schools all of the time.

I’ve worked with kids who hit the jackpot with loving parents who have the financial stability to offer support to their children well into their adult years. Others have loving parents but money is a constant struggle. I’ve known children who grow up financially secure but with parents who are emotionally or physically abusive. And then there are the kids born to drug-addicted parents who cannot provide even their most basic needs.

None of us has a choice about the circumstances of our births — like the lottery, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

But there is such a thing as luck, and often it appears in the form of a gifted teacher. Teachers can tip the scales, even the odds, level the playing field. In this country we have public schools that open their doors to all children, regardless, so at least every kid has a chance.