Evaluating Educational Inequality Along Racial Lines Research Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Education
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #56387184

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Educational Inequality Along Racial Lines

The role of education in the American society cannot be overemphasized. Education plays an important role in equipping students with knowledge and skills for transforming their life and the society at large. Also, the education system instills appropriate values, behaviors, and attitudes in students, making them useful members of the society. Nonetheless, while education is important, it tends to reinforce the existing social inequality, particularly along racial lines. Funding inequalities and learning outcomes between schools from privileged backgrounds and those from unprivileged backgrounds attest to this. This paper examines inequality in education along racial lines. The paper specifically focuses on four aspects: the role of education from two sociological perspectives; the role of funding in producing educational inequality along racial lines; America's cultural diversity (in terms of race, gender, ethnicity and class) and the educator's role in promoting cultural diversity; as well as an anti-racist tool that can be used to teach students tolerance for racial and cultural diversity.

The Role of Education: Two Contrasting Views

The role of education in the American society can be viewed from two contrasting sociological perspectives. The traditional perspective, also known as the functionalist perspective, argues that education is crucial for social mobility (Farley, 2012). Simply, education provides one an opportunity to advance in the society. By providing individuals with training, education enables people to pursue professions. Employers in turn reward workers for their knowledge and performance, consequently enabling people to fulfill their needs such as housing, food, and clothing. In essence, education is an important tool for socioeconomic empowerment. It is through education that individuals acquire the means to thrive in the society.

While education is essential for social mobility, a differing view asserts this may not always be true. Indeed, this view has increasingly gained support amongst sociologists. The conflicting view argues that the nature of the education system does not provide much opportunity for social mobility to disadvantaged populations, particularly the poor (Farley, 2012). Instead, education tends to compound the existing social inequality. It is quite unrealistic to expect education to address equality when the broader socioeconomic system is founded upon inequality. For social equality in the society to be achieved, the answer lies not in education for everyone, but in changing the socioeconomic system to ensure income equality. This view, however, does not necessarily imply that education for everyone is not important. The fundamental argument is that economic privilege for all is more essential than just access to education. More importantly, education for all may not necessarily eliminate the underlying forces that create economic inequality, underscoring the need for changing the larger socioeconomic system.

The argument that education mainly serves the interests of the economically advantaged is particularly true for the American society. In spite of tremendous progress in increasing access to education, Whites and the rich tend to benefit more from education compared to minorities and the poor (Farley, 2012). Education for students from economically advantaged backgrounds serves to transmit to them the same advantages their parents have. Ultimately, the status quo remains unchanged or worsens -- the poor remain poor, and the privileged become more privileged.

Funding and Educational Inequality

One way through which the education system contributes to inequality is funding. In the U.S., schools with predominantly minority populations (African America, Latin America, or Indian-American) have historically been underfunded compared to schools with predominantly White (majority) populations (Farley, 2012). While this trend has reduced over the years, it still remains. Underfunding has much to do with the manner in which school funding in the country is done. Generally, schools get approximately 50% of their funding from the statement government, while much of the remaining portion is funded through the local property tax (Farley, 2012). The amount of local property tax varies significantly from one state to another since different states tend to have different property values. Accordingly, wealthier states or communities get more revenue from local property tax compared to poorer states or communities. This means that schools in wealthier states or communities receive greater funding for education compared to their counterparts in poorer states or communities. Minority communities in the U.S. are generally poorer than White communities, meaning that students from minority backgrounds are more affected by underfunding. This problem is further compounded by the comparatively high cost of education in poor backgrounds (Farley, 2012). The higher cost of education in schools in poor or minority backgrounds often stems from the numerous issues and problems these schools have to deal with, further exacerbating the underfunding problem.

Some of the problems schools in minority communities have to deal…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Duncan, G., & Murnane, R. (2014). Restoring opportunity: the crisis of inequality and the challenge for American Education. Boston: Harvard Education Press.

Farley, J. (2012). Majority-Minority Relations. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: theory, research, and practice. 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press.

Parrillo, V. (2009). Diversity in America. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Pine Forge Press.

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