Inequality in Education
Education is a basic and universal right ofevery person in the world. However, educational inequality affectsthe access to this basic right. Educational inequality is the gapexperienced by students in terms of learning resources andopportunities due to their orientation to particular social,political or economic groups (Thomas et al 2). This inequalityaffects mostly the poor and the minority population in the UnitedStates and is an important issue that needs to be addressed urgently.Educational inequality is measured through various means. Some of thenotable ways to gauge the level of inequality is through the Ginicoefficients on education systems in place GPA and other graderesults from various schools and regions admission, completion anddropout statistics and the amount of resources allocated to variousschools (Thomas et al 5). Inequality in education caused byinefficient systems of governance compromises the personal andnational development in the United States.
Educational inequality is caused by theimmediate governing systems as well as historical backgrounds ofAmerican society which has many effects on the people. Thisinequality is rooted in the historical injustices related to theminority populations in America such as ethnicity, slavery, racismand political alienation (Omi and Howard 65). Since time immemorialAmerican governments and the legal frameworks have been skewed tobenefit the rich while leaving the poor in shambles. The racial andethnic orientation is an important factor in analyzing the level ofinequality in education (Omi and Howard 65).
It is prudent that the government and thesociety should come up with policies and sustainable frameworks thatwill ameliorate the gap in education provision (Schofer, Evan andJohn 899). Such equality brings better distribution in all factors ofproduction and wealth. If the gap is not closed soon the viciouscycle of poverty, unemployment, increased crime rates, increasedilliteracy levels and health problems will continue to soar up.
Background and Context
The education value is well acknowledgedworldwide. The need to recognize education as an important instrumentfor improving the welfare of the American people and alleviatingpoverty is instrumental (Mesa 3). Equality in education accessenables the American poor to have more social and economic mobility.Providing and enhancing the skills of the poor, underprivileged andless fortunate in the society through education reduces and stops thevicious cycle of poverty. Education’s advantages extend beyond thepersonal lives of individual citizens. Many sectors of the Americaneconomy, including firms, factories, industries and the economy atlarge depend on quality education for the people. The benefits of theprovision of this quality education through excellent and competenthuman capital that is produced as a result enables a country to becompetitive in all sectors of her economy (Mesa 3).
Many countries, if not all, identify theimportance of quality education as a driver of economic growth butthese countries have a long way in achieving the mass participationand equality that is needed. The equity issue in the education hasbeen a main issue in the American society. Several studies havesuggested and shown that education is severely unequal in many partsof America (Thomas et al., 5). This inequality exists in variousgeographic areas, among social classes and even between genders.Education inequality is not only a local issue but a global issue.Every country is affected due to the differing resources each countryallocates to the education sector and the political atmospherecreated in these countries (Thomas et al., 5).
United States education inequality is at itshighest level. With the many racial groups living in America and thegaining wage and income disparities, this trend is expected to rise(Ladson-Billings 7). Social class, ethnicity, family of origin,gender and racial orientation are the main determinants ofeducational inequality in the United States (Omi and Howard 65). Theminority groups are particularly affected by this status quo.American schools system is botched with lottery systems in charterschools and private schools where rich children go and the lessfunded government public schools where the poor children go.
Many children from poor families and hostileneighborhoods are discriminated against in the education systemthrough racial privileges for rich students discriminative lotterysystems for enrollment racial superiority perception and hencebetter funding for “racially superior” schools and employment ofunderperforming, less trained teachers in poor or hostileneighborhoods (Omi & Howard 67). The inequality in America isalso influenced by other factors such as political participation,health status and achievements. Family of origin dictates theacademic performance of children. Children of educated parents aremore likely to perform better in school (Schütz et al., 280).
White students who have more educated parentswith resources attend and complete school as compared to theirminority counterparts (Schütz et al., 283). TheAmerican white population enjoys better benefits than the minoritiesblack Americans, Hispanics and the Asians largely because the whitemake up majority of the population (Omi & Howard 71). They arethe leaders in virtually all major companies, political parties andorganizations and therefore, dictate the policies adopted by thegovernment. Ultimately, more funding is directed to their areasenhancing resource mobility to schools and other social amenities(Omi & Howard 78). The minority populations are underrepresentedin both public and private sectors demeaning their say in matters ofgovernance and leadership. Even if the constitutional provisionsrequire that all areas should be developed equally, the historicalcontempt that exist on the part of majority whites against theminorities lead to unequal developments (Omi & Howard 80). It isa basic common sense that those in power benefit more than those inthe cold. Historical
Black community has faced a lot of challengessince the historical injustices of slavery and racism the trend stillcontinues. The current shootings and harassment of black people bythe police is an indication that racism is still alive. Blackneighborhoods are usually mired with poverty and fewer socialamenities (Omi & Howard 87). Schools in these neighborhoods areunderfunded and lack all the necessary human resources and learningmaterials like books and teachers. Many teachers in these schools arefrom the neighborhoods since many other qualified teachers shy awayfrom these communities due to high levels of crime and gangs (Omi &Howard 88). This translates to fewer graduates and high dropoutrates. Poverty in these communities also demotivates many childrenfrom completing school due to lack of basic amenities like food, rentand school fees. They opt into crime and other illegal activities.
Hispanics and Latinos are almost fullyalienated from all major education and economic opportunities. Mostof the Hispanic families are non-English speakers and so do theirchildren. Hispanic children face major inequalities in terms ofcurriculum completion and learning efficacy (Omi & Howard 90).They usually lag behind in academic achievements due to lack ofprowess in English language which is the official language ofinstruction in American schools. Their lack of comprehension ofEnglish disadvantages them from any parental help in solving variousacademic problems since the parents are English-illiterate too. Thistranslates to high dropout rates by this category of students whoprefer to seek for casual labor to sustain their lives (Schütz etal., 189). Such inequality is further reflected in theirsocioeconomic development which is definitely very poor. Nationalstatistics on Education show that Hispanic population recorded thehighest rate of school drop-outs from 1977 to 2007 (Omi & Howard89). Although they recorded a significant number of collegeenrollment, this trend was canceled out by the high rate of schooldrop-out.
(Education inequality chart: Retrieved from,www.inequality.stanford.edu)
Gender disparity in education is another keyfeature in American education system and the world all over. Femalesusually face obstacles preventing them from getting quality educationlike their male counterparts (Filmer 2). Traditional and chauvinisticattitudes towards female education take the center stage such asearly marriages, failure to educate girl children, gender-basedviolence and cultural beliefs (Filmer 5). Poverty and gender-basedviolence also deter many females from getting the requirededucational milestones.
The minority groups in the United States mainlycomprised of African Americans and Hispanics come from lowsocioeconomic families. These students are unable to meet thenecessary expenses to meet the expensive education. Females inparticular are affected by this poverty level. They lose direction inlife and end up being victims of teenage pregnancy, prostitution andother illegal activities (Filmer 9). Many parents especially in theHispanic population do not take interest in educating their girls.They are either married off at a tender teenage age or left to engagein prostitution, casual labor and drug trafficking for survival(Filmer 22).
There is an urgent need to look into thisinequality and come up with sound policies that will improve thewelfare of every citizen. As seen, education disparity is the rootcause of the vicious cycle of poverty in the world today. Pooreducation systems lead to low income, unemployment, poverty,increased crime rates and health problems (Checchi 34). This ispassed on to the next generation and the vicious cycle continues.
Education inequality is attributed to thehistorical account of every country. American history of racialdiscrimination created a society that was distrustful of thegoverning system (Ladson-Billings 9). This racial discriminationcreated suspicion and reduced interest on education matters among theminority groups like black Americans. The trend created a “perceived”ceiling on the possible opportunities for many less fortunate andminority Americans (Ladson-Billings 9). This ceiling that was createddeterred academic inspirations and muffled any social growth amongstthese people.
The enslavement of black people alienated themfrom any tangible education prospects (Ladson-Billings 10). Evenafter the slavery was ended the racial stigmatization remained andmany black Americans were only allowed to segregated schools or couldnot participate in political affairs to determine their fate. Most oftheir social amenities and structures were underfunded by theexisting governments. Socioeconomic and political tussles kept manyblack minorities in subordination (Omi and Howard 67). The gap hadreduced during the ‘80s but it is rising again currently. Otherminority groups like Indians, Latinos and Asian immigrants receivedthe same treatment like black Americans (Omi & Howard 67).Latinos have always been systematically cut out from educationopportunities at many levels.
Segregation Protest photo (adapted from:www.informacionaldesnudo.com)
In conclusion, the inequality in education hasmany adverse effects to the American society accentuating the viciouscycle of poverty. The historical account of segregation, ethnicity,colonization and racism are key contributory factors to this state inthe American society. Bad governance and corruption are equally toblame. Individual nations and the international community need towork together to harmonize education quality and educationopportunities for everyone (Checchi 34). Continuous assessment ofeducation state in America and executing free education for all, plusglobal education partnership will also promote and reduce theexisting gap. Multicultural education should also be advocated toequalize education in the multicultural American society (Schofer,Evan & John 899).
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Filmer, Deon. "The structure of social disparities in education:Gender and wealth." World Bank Policy Research Working Paper2268 (2000).
Ladson-Billings, Gloria. "From the achievement gap to theeducation debt: Understanding achievement in US schools."Educational researcher 35.7 (2006): 3-12.
Mesa, Eirene P. "Measuring education inequality in thePhilippines." Philippine Review of Economics 44.2 (2007).
Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial formation in the UnitedStates. Routledge, 2014.
Schofer, Evan, and John W. Meyer. "The worldwide expansion ofhigher education in the twentieth century." Americansociological review 70.6 (2005): 898-920.
Thomas, Vinod, Yan Wang, & Xibo Fan.Measuring education inequality: Gini coefficients of education. Vol.2525. World Bank Publications, 2001.
Schütz, Gabriela, Heinrich W. Ursprung, and Ludger Wößmann."Education policy and equality of opportunity." Kyklos 61.2(2008): 279-308.
Education inequality photo: The Digest ofEducation Statistics 2008, National Center for Education Statistics.Retrieved from, <www.inequality.stanford.edu>
Segregation Protest photo: Retrieved from:<http://informacionaldesnudo.com/racism-in-the-united-states>