If Education Is Not An Equal Opportunity For Blacks And Hispanics, What Is?

March 14, 2012
Written by Janice S. Ellis... in
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Unlike students from well-funded schools, many black and Hispanic students living in poor areas have little more to work with in school than their books, paper, and blackboard. How does this create an equal education for all? Photo Credit: madamenoire.com

The new nationwide K-12 Data Collection report conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office paints a dismal and disturbing picture of how black and Hispanic students are treated in the nation’s schools — unfortunately, the majority of the nation’s schools. The data, collected from more than 72,000 schools represents 85 percent of all students.

It shows that poor blacks are on the losing end when it comes to being disciplined for the same offenses, but tragically, they are also on the losing end when it comes to course offerings, resources, and therefore overall academic achievement.

The consistency and rate at which blacks are suspended and expelled from school is much greater than that of whites and other minorities. That within itself is a terrible injustice to children who often come to school from oppressive and disadvantaged homes, and neighborhoods, only to get to school and find more of the same from those who should be trying to improve their plight.

These students also seem to be put on a track of underachievement. In addition to not having quality, experienced, and well-paid teachers, these students are in classrooms where the educational materials, tools, technology, and other resources are inadequate, out-dated, and insufficient. The report highlights that a high percentage of teachers in schools with the highest black and Hispanic enrollment had taught two years or less. Those teachers are also paid significantly less than their counterparts in other schools.

But the atrocity does not stop there. It appears that blacks and Hispanics are doomed to a life and career of being in a permanent underclass. The report found that thousands of high schools with black and Hispanic students do not even offer algebra II, often a prerequisite for getting into college and even some trade schools.

Patte Barth, director of the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, puts it plainly, “If you do go to [college], you are probably going to end up in remediation. Without algebra II, you don’t become an auto mechanic. Without it, you don’t get into one of the growing service jobs in fields like communications.”

What has really been achieved since the history changing case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, which supposedly was the end of discrimination in education decades ago? How is it, with the 21st Century facing some of its greatest societal challenges that we are still tolerant, still willing to turn a blind eye toward an educational system that does not create equal opportunities for all of our children?

How do we expect to break the cycle of poverty and underachievement, crime-ridden neighborhoods, un and underemployment, hopelessness, and resignation to second, third, fourth class citizenship right here in America, if we continue to allow an educational caste system to prevail?

History teaches societies many lessons. Among them, there is no permanent underclass. And any society that seeks to perpetuate human servitude and oppression, or ignore that it exists, is ignoring a slow growing cancer that will ultimately be its demise.

Separate but equal education was deemed unacceptable and outlawed long ago. Together but unequal education is even more insidious, and should not be acceptable.

Where is the outrage among educators, lawmakers, parents, and all caring adults?


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