Still a racial gap in education


Throughout history, there has been an ongoing fight for equal­ity in the nation, whether between different races, sexes or religions, seemingly fixed by government provisions provided to help even the playing field. Unfortunately, these policies have not abridged the achievement gap between the majority and minority, specifically in reference to the racial gap. For example, the educational accomplishments of African-Americans and Hispanics have been less than stellar in comparison to Cauca­sians and Asians in recently analyzed test scores.

According to the New York Times, the mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, along with New York’s chancellor of public schools Joel I. Klein, claims that everything possible to close the achievement gap between races has been done over the past six years. Bloomberg went so far as to say that, “In some cases, we’ve re­duced it [the achievement gap] by half.”

Young Professionals of Foreign Policy - A significant racial gap still exists in American public schools, but community policies could help change this

But, results of recent tests done in New York City revealed that the gap between minority students was significant. 40 percent of black students and 46 percent of His­panic students met standards in math, whereas 75 percent of white students and 82 percent of Asian students met the math standards. Also, results for English standards show Asian and White students scoring about twice as high as His­panic and Black students.

Results like these may leave some in disbelief, seeing as laws like No Child Left Behind were made during the Bush adminis­tration in order to close such wide gaps. Under No Child Left Behind, annual testing was scheduled with specific attention paid to each ra­cial group in hopes of having all students reach a certain skill level by 2014, as stated in the New York Times.
These policies target the prob­lem areas by recognizing the differ­ences between races in the school system, but other policies should be enacted to make significant changes in the minority communi­ty in regards to education. The root of the problem for underachieving minorities isn’t the schools them­selves, but the communities where they live.

In neighborhoods and com­munities mainly composed of a single minority, there seems to be an unbalanced cycle of failed con­ditions keeping the community from succeeding.

In this cycle, the school sys­tems have less than enough money for current textbooks, qualified teachers and a productive learning environment, resulting in insuffi­ciently educated students. As these improperly educated students grow and attempt to get jobs, they lack the experience and qualifica­tions to get jobs that could fund an average American lifestyle, leaving them unable to leave or support their community in any way. Con­sequently, money is not provided to organizations and institutions in the community that would help it thrive, thus concluding the cycle.

If policies were made to al­ter the conditions surrounding poverty-ridden communities, then not only would the quality of ed­ucation in these neighborhoods increase, but also, in theory, the entire quality of life in these areas would improve. One possible solu­tion would be to cut funding from areas that are supported more fi­nancially and putting it into com­munities in which adequate funds are not available. By doing this, these low income areas could pos­sibly get the leg up that is needed to succeed long-term, in turn help­ing the community as a whole.

One similar example is a court case in New Jersey, reported by The Grio, which led to equal fund­ing between suburban and urban school districts. After this hap­pened, funding for kindergarten and pre-k programs improved. The quality of teaching improved as well, and higher-quality health programs were made more avail­able to children. The improved conditions resulted not only from providing districts with equal funds, but also by using the money to effectively increase the quality of learning.

In no way is the current status of minorities completely without blame when it comes to education, as we are all responsible for our own lives. Nevertheless, it is un­fair to hold everyone to the same standard of education when some groups live in a more advanta­geous situation than others. The achievement gap between stu­dents of different race may have decreased overall in comparison to the ‘60s and ‘70s, but we live in an age where benefits based on race or living circumstances shouldn’t be an issue. Minorities definitely have what it takes to reach the same suc­cess. But the playing field has to be even first.

Published Aug. 26, 2010 in “The Signal”


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