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Race and Equity in Education

Over the years, various United States schools and colleges have relied on special admission to attain racial equity among students. It would be fair to say that race and equity in education has not been attained to the full satisfaction of everybody. Nowadays, one often hears of conflict-ridden debates over whether affirmative action is itself a type of prejudice not in favour of white folks.

As per University of Michigan (sourced from http://sitemaker.umich.edu/educationalequity/home), the struggle for equality of access to formal education and equality of excellent educational outcomes is part of the history of education in this country and is tied up with the economic, political, social history of the peoples who are part of it.  From the beginning of this nation, there were many barriers to the schooling and education of girls and racial, national origin, and language groups not from the dominant culture.  Approaches and resources for achieving equality and equity in the public schooling of girls and ethnic, racial, and language minority groups are still evolving. 

If we go back to history, during the ‘40s ‘70s the percentage of school graduation among non-Hispanic whites/ blacks/ Hispanics went up a bit. During the next 3 decades, admission in schools did get bigger. But, the largest increases have been made by whites- not by Hispanics/ blacks/ other minority communities.

However, in this same 30 year period, it has also been noticed that the gap in the rates of high school graduation among whites and blacks has narrowed down. Currently, blacks are reaching a stage almost equal to that of whites. However, this increase of blacks in school graduation has not been witnessed among Hispanics. Hence it can be said that  disappointments of blacks and Hispanics to get higher education at the same rate as whites is even more worrying than the school graduation data might mean. Since the number of black and Hispanic students have been increasing, without them even graduating from high school is alarming.

It is prudent that we understand that both socially as well as politically, we have been unsuccessful to attain statistical parity, or equality among the quantity of whites/ blacks/Hispanics etc. Also, the answer to racial inequality in school should be a balance linking economics and admission to school. Everyone knows that education makes an individual earn more money, which in turn increases access to higher education. One should neither wait for education to end poverty nor for the end of poverty to give equal access to schools. This should hopefully resolve the crisis of racial inequality in schools.

It has been noticed that the effects of grade rise over the past number of decades assisted those had been already enrolled at schools. Present school students, especially those from K-12 to higher education, through with incorrect high retention rates were quoted over the increasing number of minority students. Currently, children of the baby boomers have amplified the figure of traditional aged school students. Hence, there is an increase in measures to tighten in-house standards as well as lift entrance needs. This has led to special admissions in schools as well as colleges in the name of cost cutting and increasing the standards.

There has been a modest step forward in ending racial inequality in schools in the past, which has been disappointing for many, especially the minority students. However, during the same period, U.S has been witnessed an increase in political confrontation to equal admission. Also, there has been tax cut back to those who have already had taken advantage from the long-drawn-out admission process of the past 3 decades. Fredrick Bronwyn rightly summed up the situation when he mentioned that, “our experiences as Indigenous academics within universities often reflects the experiences we have as Indigenous people in broader society, yet I am still surprised and angered when it is others working in higher education who espouse notions of justice and equity with whom we experience tension and conflict in asserting our rights, values and cultural values. At times it is a constant struggle even when universities have Reconciliation Statements as most of them do now, Indigenous recruitment or employment strategies and university wide anti-racism and anti-discrimination policies and procedures”.

It is also worth noting that the consequence of  internal polices of individual schools and colleges have clubbed with external economic and social circumstances to more than counterbalance the imperfect influence of positive actions for admissions. Even though minorities witnessed small benefits through favoured admissions has been undercut by other factors linked with race. This in turn has led to even bigger favoured benefit to whites, and thus, the status quo still remains.

Going forward, one should not generally use statistics, as they can be deceptive, for example, the figure of minority students registered in high schools or the percentage raise in minority enrolment over the previous year etc. As statistics can be misleading, it can incorrectly nourish the forces that are now effectively opposing racial equity in schools and colleges. It can be said that inequality is a constitutional issue and the objective is definitely numerical equality. In simple words, the principle of equality stress that minority students be given the equal opportunities that white school/college students experience. As per Richard Vertigo, “The conclusion to be drawn from research is that in examining various achievement gaps, attention should be paid to within-group inequality because it appears to account for a sizeable portion of the achievement gap. In addition, it is also clear that school efficacy accounts for most of the achievement gap. Future research should focus on dissecting the both findings”.

The positive actions taken by many was by no means planned to consist only of preferential school admissions. One cannot think such a small attempt could have a radical result on such a huge and complex problem as racial inequality. One can point to and document a lot of explanations for racial inequality in schools, for example, uneven computer access/ ban against racial housing/ grade increase/ prepaid tuition/ etc. All this does not hide the fact that steps taken to correct the effects of these practices has meant that schools and colleges should stop using "diversity" to justify their admissions policies. The schools should be more forthcoming about how uneven educational policies in the name of the so called affirmative-action have only benefited white admissions. Hence, one should note that “race” and “equity” is the core issue and should be addressed first.

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