Educational Inequality: The Product of Poverty and Inherent Discrimination
Educational Inequality exists for students of all backgrounds in the U.S. but this inequality is extremely pronounced in minorities. It is no secret that the whiter, richer, more educated individuals in this country have generally had greater access to more stable learning environments, more knowledgeable, academically concerned parents, and better educational resources. However, In the Post Brown Vs. Board of Education world, inequality still persists at high levels for people of color and poverty. Despite the abolition of obvious forms of discrimination, students of lower socioeconomic status continue to receive worse educations and attain lower levels of schooling as they continue the harsh cycle of poverty experienced by most low-income families. Inequality in the U.S. education system is due to numerous factors such as the U.S’ unique history of racial discrimination and uneven allocation of resources; however, increasing income disparity between the upper and lower classes, varying degree of parental involvement, and the cyclical nature of poverty are the largest and most important components of educational inequality. This paper analyzes the aforementioned variables and contextualizes them into a continuous cycle of educational discrimination and shortcoming regarding this country’s poor and minority citizens. However, first one must examine the history and role of education in the U.S. to properly assess the existence of this present day issue. In the early U.S., private institutions primarily administered education and public schools were created to be inherently unequal to these institutions, which accounts for much of the inequality present today. Today’s education has markedly different goals than it did in the mid 1700’s in that its religious connotation is virtually eliminated and the methods of teaching are less Draconian. However, despite the vastly dissimilar goals of early 18th century and 21st century education, one must consider the implications of the former and its role in shaping the latter. Public schools were only formed to deal with the large increase in the immigrant population that occurred in the mid 1800s; these schools were poorly funded, and were meant more for supervised congregation than actual learning. During this time period, native U.S. citizens still largely attended private schools but public schools with larger numbers of native citizens enjoyed the benefits of better teachers, resources, and funding. This began the long trend of racial and ethnic discrimination in U.S. education. This notion of inherent inequality is important as it created the environment in which parent involvement and SES became integral to student success. Richer, more involved parents sought to improve their children’s education by either placing them in private school or a more prestigious public school, and the immigrant population recognized the importance of involvement in their children’s education as they correctly inferred higher levels of educational attainment corresponded to increased social mobility (“School Choice: What’s Happening in the States.”) Parent SES, in general, has always played an integral role in determining the future success and mobility of one’s children but parental income specifically has been linked to greater educational opportunity as it is the chief determinant of poverty in this country. One’s income is highly related to their degree education; traditionally, people with greater education earn larger salaries. However, in recent years this fact has been greatly exacerbated as exemplified by the fact that individuals with a college degree earn 75% more than those without degrees; a drastic increase from 1979 in which this figure was 38% (Tyson, “Income Inequality…”). Additionally, not only do more educated people earn more money but those with lower levels of education have been...
Cited: “School Choice: What’s Happening in the States, 2000,” Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, 2000
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