Kristen Cercone Cercone 1
Intro To Narrative
Racism In The Education System
If America is supposed to be based on equal rights and freedom, what can be done to eliminate racial inequality in this country?
I have been in the education system since I was five years old. I believe that everyone should get a quality education and race should not affect a student’s chance at one. This should continue to be a topic of conversation until equality is achieved. Everyone should be interested in this topic, not just the people who are being directly affected by inequality. On the surface, it seems that there is equality in education, but with a little research it is clear that this isn’t entirely true.
“School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines” is an article by Motoko Rich, a writer for the New York Times, that sheds light on the topic of inequality in education. According to this article, minority students are expelled and suspended at three times the rate of white students. Rich also states that minorities are not offered the variety of courses that white students are and they are taught by teachers with less experience. These factors can hinder a student’s chance at success in higher education and in a career. Rich uses statistical evidence,
provided by the Department of Education’s Office For Civil Rights, that proves there is inequality. The DOE used almost 15 years of information from the 97,000 public schools in America and found a pattern of inequality based on race. These minority students do not have the same opportunities as white students because of their skin color. If all students have the opportunity to be taught by well qualified teachers and are offered the same courses, it would make a big difference in not only the education system, but in all of society. Rich added a quote from Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Civil Rights Project in the article. Losen stated, “Here we are, 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the data altogether still shows a picture of gross inequity in educational opportunity.” Brown v. Board was a case of great importance in which the United State Supreme Court decided that laws establishing separate schools for black and white students was unconstitutional. Mentioning the Brown v. Board case can help the reader process just how long this problem in the education system has been around.
Racial inequality has come up a few times in our class discussions. For example, “The Right To Criticize American Institutions”, “Crime and Lynching”, “The Case For Reparations”, and “Teaching Language In Open Admissions.” While some of these readings are about slavery or an increase in violence against blacks, “Teaching Language In Open Admissions” by Adrienne Rich focuses on education inequality. Rich was a poet and professor who wanted to make a difference in education. Rich attended Harvard University and Radcliffe College. By spending time at these prestigious schools and City College, the lines of inequality must have been very clear to her. In this piece of writing, Rich discusses her experience of teaching in the
SEEK program, a program for minority students, at City College in New York. Some of Rich’s students did not have basic writing skills. Rich introduced her students to African American authors and she says that they responded well to ‘black’ literature. Rich explained that her students had potential but did not have the opportunity to strengthen their skills due to the inequality in the education system. A program like SEEK is a great way to eliminate inequality and provide minorities with the tools they need to do well in school. Providing readings that everyone can relate to is another way of reducing inequality.
“Education Is Not Great Equalizer for Black Americans” by Seth Freed Wessler of NBC News touches on the subject of education inequality. The main argument that Wessler makes in the article is, while a good education or job leads to success for white people it does not have an equal impact on an African American’s life. Wessler uses data and quotes from academics to make his point that your race determines your future, not your education. A key term that Wessler brings up is: the American Dream. He says that the American Dream promises success for those who work hard and have a good education. He argues that, in reality, this is not true for African Americans. Wessler does use some statistical evidence to help his argument. For example, a group of academics recently calculated that, the median household headed by a black college graduate had about two thirds of the net worth of the median white household headed by someone who did not finish high school. I have to partly disagree with Wessler’s argument because there have been many successful African Americans that worked hard to get where they are and did not let inequality get in the way of their accomplishments. Some examples are, Kenneth Frazier, Ursula Burns, and Robert L. Johnson who are all CEO’s of large companies.
African Americans who are more recognized for their success are Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Jay-Z. These people are great role models and by looking up to them, a student who is suffering the consequences of inequality can know that its possible to overcome it.
The research I have used for my paper has made me very aware that racial inequality in education is still present in today’s society. It has also made me think of different ways that can help end inequality. Equal rights are a part of America’s foundation and what is happening in the education system goes against it. This research has made me curious about the steps that will be
taken in the future to end education inequality. With some changes, all students can have equal opportunities for success in their lives.
Rich, Adrienne. “Teaching Language In Open Admissions.” On Lies, Secrets, and Silence.
New York. (1972). Print.
Rich, Motoko. “School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines.” The New York
Times. (2014). Print.
Wessler, Seth Freed. “Education Is Not Great Equalizer for Black Americans.” NBC News.