The quality of education a child receives depends on an expansive scope of components, including family income, family background, district, school funding, resources, etc. Educational disparity is a massive problem for those in the lower class who work through their day to day socioeconomic issues. Those who face these problems are the individuals who were born into underprivileged families and groups and communities as well as some groups of immigrants who cannot afford to move to a better district or attend a private school. This is a problem in America, as it indicates a flaw in school administration, in addition to violating the American ideal of an equal society.
The subject of disparity has been acknowledged in numerous aspects of life. Unfortunately, education is yet a standout amongst the most pondered and dubious issues in the United States. Up to this point, the privilege or right to receive education has not attained the level of equality throughout the nation; poor districts acquire less educational financing while rich areas obtain more, making a massive breach between the value of schools in poor and rich areas. Schools serving low-income students receive fewer assets, face greater difficulties attracting qualified teachers, face many more challenges in addressing student’s needs, and receive less support from parents.
Conflict theorist emphasize that the educational institutions solidifies the class position of groups and enables majorities to control the masses. Although the official objective of education in the public eye is to provide universal mechanism for achievement educational opportunities and the quality of education are not so much distributed. The conflict perspective also expanded on what Jonathan Kozol called “savage inequalities” in education that perpetuate racial disabilities. Kozol documented that gross inequities in the quality of education in poorer districts, largely composed of minorities, compared with districts that serve predominantly white middle-class and upper-middle class families.
These performance gaps reflect extensive unmet needs and thus untapped talents among low-SES children. The development of strong cognitive and noncognitive skills is essential for success in school and beyond. Low educational achievement leads to lowered economic prospects sometime down the road, propagating an absence of social mobility across generations. It is also a misfortune to society when children’s aptitudes can go unplanted for lack of sufficient supports. The undeniable relationship between economic imbalances and education disparities represents a societal failure that betrays the ideal of being separate but equal.
One of the predictions of educational success and attainment is socioeconomic status. Research indicates that children from low-SES households and communities develop academic skills slower than children from higher SES groups (Morgan, Farkas, Hillemeier, & Maczuga, 2009). For instance, low SES in childhood is related to poor cognitive development, language, memory, socioemotional processing, and consequently poor income and health in adulthood. The school systems in low-SES communities are often underresourced, negatively affecting students’ academic progress and outcomes (Aikens ; Barbarin, 2008).
Despite widespread faith in the role of schooling to address or ameliorate social inequalities, we should recognize that our nation’s schools actually is a major role in magnifying such inequalities. For example, it is common knowledge that children’s school performance, including scores on standardized tests of academic achievement, is associated with their family background, particularly race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Several social scientists have written about how schools structure inequality, so that social differences in achievement increase as a result of children’s participation in differentiated educational experiences as they move through school.
On standardized tests, “children from the lowest income families have the lowest average test scores, with an incremental rise in family income associated with arise in test scores” (Corbett et al. 2008, p. 3). Why is that? Families with low incomes have fewer resources to commit to educational purposes, making it much more difficult to buy books or computer or to pay for tutors. In addition, a report to congress on educational inequality acknowledges that students from high income families compared to low income families and middle income families are not only more likely to attend college but they are more likely to complete it (Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance 2010).
The educational inequality that has existed from historic times between minority students and white students has continued to advance economic and social inequality. As early as kindergarten, black children have lower reading, math, and working memory scores when compared to their white counter-parts, much of the difference explained by student socioeconomic status and school quality (Quinn 2015). It is projected that by 2024, racial and ethnic minorities will comprise 54 percent of the pre-kindergarten through 12th grade student population (NCES 2015a). The Caucasian population is expected to decrease from 60 percent in 2001 to 46 percent in 2024.
Some of the consequences of overall societal inequality, including the later immigration (and therefore later family establishment) of ethnic minorities, as well as disadvantages due to racial discrimination. African Americans in particular experience the latter, still recovering from a prolonged period of oppression. Though this attitude has greatly lessened today, it is a huge part of current racial stereotypes that those who are ethnic achieve lower education and work the lowest-paying jobs. Thus, the combination of educational inequality and socioeconomic status create a vicious cycle, where low class citizens will generally receive low-quality education, and higher-class citizens will generally receive better-quality education. This creates an educational gap not only between the classes but also between races, a dangerous factor for a country that is attempting post-racism.
In education, nothing can be further from the truth. Indeed, it is almost impossible for one to imagine an aspect of society with greater inequities than those existing in the education system, and we must fight to fix them. And things should start off by investing in teacher education and in teaching practices. Teachers are paid based on years of experience rather than actual levels of quality. Since the best teachers are not rewarded with pay, they are rewarded with an easier job. The highest quality teachers move to the schools with advantaged students that are relatively easy to educate. Teachers’ salaries should better reflect on the priority of America’s place on children, education, and the education of children and should not be tied to a student’s performance.
Educational inequality is obviously not easy to fix, but what we can do now is to attempt to disconnect race with educational standards for ourselves. Meanwhile, school administration and funding must be reconsidered, and perhaps reallocate funds from other areas to education. This will help education in America across the board and produce citizens that are more globally competitive.
Also opening new private schools open, competitive pressures drive tuition levels downward, and parental choices drive school quality levels upward. Since disadvantaged families do not have substantial amounts of wealth, and rich families already have access to high-quality schools, universal private school choice programs would benefit the least advantaged students the most, and, in turn, would reverse black-white achievement gaps.