Education Equity: Who Gets Left Behind and How Do We Fix It?
🕒 08-Feb-2023
Education

Education Equity: Who Gets Left Behind and How Do We Fix It?

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While many think of equity as a kind of education equity or that everyone has access to the same resources, equity advocates understand that equity means equality of outcome. In essence, it’s the belief that all students should have the same chance to succeed regardless of their economic, ethnic, and racial background.

Why do we need to focus on this? The answer lies in statistics like this one, which shows that more than half of black and Latino students attend schools where less than 60% of their peers graduate high school in four years; in contrast, less than 15% of white students go to such schools and about education equity.

Education Equity A brief history

In the early 1990s, two landmark Supreme Court decisions were handed down. The first was a decision in 1991 where the Court ruled that students with disabilities could not be segregated from their peers without a proper assessment of their needs. This paved the way for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), enacted in 2004.

The second was a 1992 decision that outlined how schools had to provide adequate resources to all students, including those who spoke English as a second language or came from low-income families. These rulings laid out a clear pathway for districts to become more equitable, which was a big education issues, but many still have not followed these guidelines. In 2014, 40% of public school kids were living in poverty.

Furthermore, over 50% of Black and Hispanic children live in high-poverty neighborhoods. What does this mean for equity? One study found that when you compare lower-income students with higher-income counterparts who have equally matched academically on standardized tests by race/ethnicity, gender, and SES (socioeconomic status), there is a 30 point gap in reading scores between minority males compared to white males the largest disparity found anywhere in our country’s education system. Another study found that teachers expect less from minority students than from white students.

Education Equity

What is happening now

We have a system set up to fail some of our students, leading to a high dropout rate. Many schools are underfunded, over-crowded, lack resources, and do not offer AP courses or honors classes. These are the same schools where minority groups are found in higher numbers.

According to the U.S Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Black students represent 18% of our population but 44% of those who are suspended from school at least once; similarly, Latino students make up 25% of our population but 44% of those expelled from school.

The result is an education system that is deeply segregated and one in which minority children get left behind too often. Some might say we need to continue with what we’re doing now because minorities tend to perform worse than their white counterparts on standardized tests. But this doesn’t tell the whole story: these test scores don’t show how well kids perform on other measures like attendance, suspensions, and expulsion rates. 

It’s time we rethink our approach about education equity so that every student has access to an equitable education. That values each child and their background equally. So, how can we change things? At one end of the spectrum are systemic changes requiring big public policy shifts.

At the other end are small actions families can take to advocate for their children within the current structure of public education. And while both approaches require work and dedication, they will lead to greater societal equity.

Education Equity

What can we do now?

The first step to fixing the education equity problem is recognizing that it’s a problem. Of course, this sounds obvious, but it’s important to recognize. So many people are convinced that our current system is working just fine. Once we recognize there’s a problem, we can ask ourselves what causes the inequity in schools. There are a lot of factors here about education social issues, but one of them seems to be concentrated poverty. When kids are surrounded by violence or food insecurity, it can be hard for them to concentrate on their studies.

So how do we fix this? One way would be universal pre-K programs that help low-income children prepare for school earlier in life. There are other ways, like building more affordable housing in high-poverty neighborhoods and strengthening public transportation options. In the meantime, schools could provide free breakfast, lunch, and snacks for students who need them.

Expand access to high-quality afterschool programming; allow older kids to take classes at community colleges as part of their curriculum; invest in social workers and psychologists at every school; build healthier cafeterias; create safe zones where students feel comfortable being themselves without fear of bullying; limit class sizes and hire more teachers; increase teacher salaries according to qualifications.

Education Equity

Education Equity and Where do we go from here?

With a wider educational achievement gap, what can we do to ensure all students receive the same opportunities for success? 

The first thing we need to do is not underestimate the problem. The statistics are alarming. One-fourth of America’s children live in poverty. One-third of America’s children are of color. And one-half of America’s school districts have minority populations that exceed 50%. This means education inequality starts when we begin our lives as infants. In Education foundation they arranged the solutions of there problems.

If a child doesn’t get the best early childhood care and education. Chances are they won’t do well in school. Be more likely to end up in poverty later on as an adult. Many obstacles could stop a child from getting their basic needs met. For example, suppose a family is homeless or living in temporary housing because of financial instability. In that case, it may take away the time and resources needed to provide quality childcare services or find good schools nearby.

Education Equity

Final Thoughts

Then there are structural issues such as standardized testing and racial bias that contribute to unequal opportunity by telling us who gets ahead instead of showing us who needs extra help. There are also laws such as parental notification requirements that restrict access to information, leading to kids not understanding their bodies enough. So they’re at higher risk for pregnancy or STIs when they’re older. But there is hope!