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Evaluating Educational Inequality along Racial Lines Essay

Introduction

Ethnicity and racial differences are still considered a defining factor in the United States of America. One’s place of residence, where they go to school, who they interact with, and the social centers they patronize are all defined by their race and ethnic background. Social factors of life are the most affected when racial difference is put into consideration. Employment, education and access to medical services are all determined by whether one is black or white. Marginalized groups reside in areas that are prone to natural disasters; they go to schools that offer lower educational standards, and they visit public hospitals or health facilities that offer the cheapest services. This is the twenty-first century. Human beings are supposed to have surpassed the primitive idea of differences based on color or ethnicity.
The difference in services accessed by minority and majority groups comes mostly because these groups are in different economic levels. White people in the USA are the majority, and they have a larger salary and wealth distribution as compared to minority groups which comprise of Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans and Indian-Americans. The educated youth in the US is gradually reducing this disparity. Minority groups are impoverished; thus, they can only access low-class education and, in turn, low-earning jobs. A large population of the minority groups is unemployed; thus, the entire group gives rise to an underemployed minority group (Farley, 2010).

 

The education system in the United States of America is valued by both Native Americans and the minority groups. Education is the only sure way for minority groups to improve their living and economic standards. Racial inequality can only be eliminated by having both minority and majority groups on the same platform. When all ethnic groups are well educated and they can fairly compete for the same positions in job interviews, the discrimination will fade away and drag in respect for all races. There has been noticeable progress from the early days of education in the US. Racial segregation was formally accepted until the Supreme Court ruled against this it. During the late 1960s on to the early 1970s, African-Americans faced less segregation at American schools, but the Latinos faced an increase in educational segregation as their numbers grew. Latino students increased considerably from the 1980s to 2000s, and their population doubled that of Africans in American schools (Farley, 2010).

Theories on the Role of Education

Segregation is still present in American school. Schools that are situated in the cities experience higher rates of segregation compared to those in the country. Farley presents two theories on the role of education, relating to educational inequality in the American education system. The two views give contrasting opinions. The first theory, based on sociology, is the traditional view. The traditional theory provides that education is directly related to social mobility. This means that persons who are more educated than others have a greater opportunity to be more mobile socially than those who are not as educated. Education offers every individual a chance to move upwards socially. The difference in how far individuals go depends on their level of motivation and their natural abilities. This theory ignores facts such as racial segregation and lack of opportunity. According to the reasoning behind it, all persons are accorded similar opportunity education-wise. The country’s education system plays a part in giving its citizens the opportunity to access education. Through the education system, people are distributed to their professions of choice and trained in accordance with the skills needed for the profession they are placed.

Education favors employers by giving them well-trained employees. Employees get the benefit of training and the opportunity for social mobility. Through education, workers are placed under different employers gauging on their abilities and not on their race or ethnicity (Farley, 2010).

The second theory contradicts the traditional theory on education. This theory has gained more support from educational sociologists than the traditional theory has gained acceptance. It suggests that education has little relation to social mobility. Sociologists maintain that it does not motivate social mobility among the poor. According to the theory, education plays a negative role for the poor, as it reinforces the gap in social mobility and inequalities in society. With education, the poor can see clearly the inequalities that society dictates upon their lives. Education is often seen as the answer to social and economic problems. The contradiction with this belief leaves minority groups at a disadvantage. Education cannot be expected to sort out the difficulties since the larger society is founded on inequalities. Making changes in the socioeconomic systems that present inequalities will be a better way of eliminating the inequalities than claiming that educating the whole world will solve these problems. The theory is not against everyone being educated. What it tries to prove is that putting everyone at an economic benefit would be better than raising their education levels before eliminating the real source of the inequalities (Farley, 2010).

Education sociologists claim that the essence of the education system in the United States of America is to reinforce the presence of inequalities in the economic and social sectors. This automatically counters social mobility for the poor though they may be educated. This theory is in line with the position held by Marxists that the education system only serves to better the elite and those who can afford it. The poor have no hope when it comes to reaping society’s benefits. The role of education is to direct children into occupations that are similar or better than their parents’ as well as maintain a certain status. The benefit that education gives is that it produces a refined middle-class population that works well with little or no supervision thus causing the least trouble for the employer (Farley, 2010).

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The Role of Funding, Cultural and Behavioral Factors in Educational Inequality along Racial Lines

The best education facilities and institutions are only accessible to the rich and advantaged elites in society. Children who hail from rich backgrounds get high quality and more education than those who are from poor backgrounds. Children from minority groups are faced with segregation at school; they go to poor schools that offer low standard education. These children are not advantaged to get higher education as compared to affluent children since it is expensive and inaccessible to them. Dominant groups are able to pass the best roles to their children after they acquire good education and are pushed into professions that maintain their parents’ status. The minority groups continue to wallow in poverty and standards that are below those of the majority groups (Farley, 2010).

Existence of segregated schools teaches children different values. Minority children look at rich and middle-class children as special ones who deserve to be in prominent managerial positions and have high education levels. Poor, marginalized children look at themselves as only capable of acquiring poor standards in education and blue-collar jobs. Behavioral practices by employers such as preferring those who have higher education and from good educational institutions influence the attitude towards education and professions. Employers look at the values that are obtained in middle-class and high-class schools rather than the grades and level of education reached by an individual. This fact affects the role of education for both the minority and majority groups. Majority groups are affected positively by this point, knowing the fact that they can afford to be in middle-class and high-class schools. High-status jobs require more of the ‘hidden’ training obtained in middle-class schools that help employees fit in and portray proper values and habits rather than factual knowledge obtained in regular schools. With increased education, there is better trainability and adaptation capacity (Farley, 2010).

The culture in the American education system is that it increases inequalities based on racial and ethnic differences. White employees are preferred to other minority groups since they attend better schools that teach students on values, beliefs and professional conduct that is acceptable in high-status workplaces. This point has continued to increase economic inequality in the US based on racial lines. Schools that have the majority of students being from minority ethnic groups are underfunded. White schools receive sufficient funding from the state. The lower the funding, the poorer the education standards provided by the school, and in return, the lower the standard of students produced. This factor affects minority groups more than it does rich students in white schools. The inequality in minority schools as compared to white schools goes deep into the whole educational and economic system (Farley, 2010).

Culture and behavior can be analyzed using two theories: the cultural deprivation theory and the cultural bias theory. Bad performance in poor schools can be attributed to cultural bias. Sociologists attribute the poor performance by minority groups to their differences in culture and socioeconomic status. Children from poorer homes perform poorly as compared to those from rich families as they do not fit in. Such children also suffer the lack of reading materials, and this contributes to their dismal performance at school. Unschooled or undereducated parents also contribute to the poor performance of their children since they do not motivate them to perform better at school. Children from poor families attribute success to luck, and they view life as uncontrolled. They are likely to have low self-esteem and little interest in academics. Children from minority groups experience this education challenges more than white children (Farley, 2010).

The cultural bias theory conflicts with the cultural deprivation theory. Theorists argue that the low achievement by minority groups is a result of the values and attitudes propagated at school. Students with a set way of doing things are favored and accepted as “cultured”. This habit is carried forward to the workplace where white employees are considered to possess the right values for high-status jobs. The education system has coined certain stereotypical descriptions of minority groups that have been accepted conventionally. Whites are viewed as better ones, and this has affected the education system. Minority children do not see their potential when they compare themselves with white children. Books and magazines have helped to make the situation inclined to educational inequality, using their gross descriptions of minority groups (Farley, 2010).

Anti-Racist Tool

Speaking about racism in school, as a teacher, would be a step towards achieving equality among students. One anti-racist tool that Fox (2009) suggests is the use of white students as anti-racist campaigners. These should be white students who have interacted with other races and are ready to help in ending the racial differences among students. Allowing students to make an intervention in the racism problem would be a better way to slowly eliminate racist tendencies in school. There is a difference between a teacher trying to bridge the racial gap among students and the students taking the initiative to work against this barbaric culture. Students are more often than not respectful of their teachers. This is a proper strategy that can be used in getting students from different races to get along and to view each other as equal (Fox, 2009).

Lessons Learnt from the Discussion

This discussion on educational inequalities based on racial aspects is a true reflection of the current state of our society. These inequalities should be eliminated with an aim of acquiring peaceful co-existence in the community for the sake of economic equality. The government should look into the issue on underfunding in minority schools. Minority groups should be given equal opportunities as whites are, and this will be the start of an equal society. Minority children should be made to feel as important as majority children, both at school and in social settings. Teachers should stop considering other children like better by virtue of their background. They have the responsibility of nurturing their students into anti-racist adults who will contribute to the growth of the United States of America with an equal socioeconomic culture. Given the opportunity of molding a racially segregated student, my agenda would be to boost his/her self-image so that he/she sees himself/herself as an equal to the majority. Showing minority groups that they are accepted and as deserving as whites are is a positive start towards ending educational inequality based on race.

Conclusion

Education is one of the social aspects that affect persons from different ethnic and racial groups. The economic status of minority groups contributes to their unequal position in all aspects of social interaction. Education is an important link to prosperity, but it is not the only possible link. Inequalities are deep-rooted in our society, and it will take the contribution of all stakeholders of the American society to eliminate them. The economy thrives from inequalities, and education alone cannot be used to change this aspect. Americans need to embrace an attitude of equality for things to change for the better.

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