Equal Opportunity in Education
As racial discrimination has long been an issue to the government, so is the issue of equality on education opportunities. Predominantly, it is perceived that the Whites had the opportunity to have access to the right education while the Blacks or the Hispanic Americans have limited access to education. Several incidents have been recorded on the fight for equal opportunities in education long before and until now, in the attempt to gain equal access to education. As a result of this, national and international laws have been written on the hope of solving this dilemma.
Following the numerous cries for Equal Opportunities in Education, world leaders initiated the Education for All (EFA) in1990 in Thailand which was later reaffirmed 2000. EFA, an international initiative of different countries aims to “bring the benefits of education to “every citizen in every society.”” (World Bank, 2012). Among the six specific education goals of EFA, five (5) of them focuses on full and equal access to complete and free education by vulnerable and disadvantage children, children belonging to ethnic minorities especially girls, and adults especially women. (World Bank, 2012).
In the United States, the way to equal opportunities in education proved to be a difficult and hard way before reaching its current state. There was once a time when education was only for the white male prominent people of the society. After so many years of struggle, education was opened to all, regardless of race, gender, language and economic and societal standing of the person. Several laws have been enacted to ensure that equality can be achieved.
The Brown vs. Board of Education is deemed in American history as the wake-up call for the legislators to revisit the laws pertaining to equality of rights of different races. In this particular case, the Supreme Court “stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land”. (National Museum of American History, 2012). African Americans were expecting to be welcomed in society after the Civil War and to be treated equally but they were not able to achieve it. The result is a segregated society. “Denied public educational resources, people of color strengthened their own schools and communities and fought for the resources that had been unjustly denied to their children. Parents’ demands for better schools became a crucial part of the larger struggle for civil rights” (National Museum of American History, 2012).
Ending the “African American struggle for desegregation” is key in the fight for Civil Rights. Variety of methods was employed as delaying tactics to implement the court rulings on integrating schools. “Enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in response to the nonviolent civil rights movement finally spurred action. In 1966, the Fifth Circuit Court, in United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, ordered school districts not only to end segregation but to "undo the harm" segregation had caused by racially balancing their schools under federal guidelines. Jefferson was followed by the Supreme Court's Green v. County School Board of New Kent County decision in 1968, requiring desegregation plans that promised to work right away. “(The Leadership Conference, 2012).
In 1966, the US Government authorized Equality of Educational Opportunity report (also known as the Coleman’s Report after its principal author James Coleman) to perform a study on the state of equality in education. The report “transform educational theory, reshape national education policies, and influenced public and scholarly opinion regarding the role of schooling in determining equality and productivity in the United States.” (Wikipedia, 2012). The result of the study was one of the main references in the passing of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, age, creed, or national origin in any federally funded activity or program” (Encyclopedia of Law and Higher Education, 2012). The equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1974 was created to “provide equal educational opportunities” (Encyclopedia of Law and Higher Education, 2012). The EEOA was partnered with the Bilingual Education Act as part of the education reforms to be implemented in the elementary and secondary levels. Among the provision of the act is prohibit a state to engage in activities that will further cause segregation of student in schools, forcibly moving or transferring of students from one school to another if the end result will further increase segregation. The ethnicity, race or gender of a student shall not be held against them to be able to gain equal access to education. Schools are mandated to provide instructional solutions for students who have language problems (Encyclopedia of Law and Higher Education, 2012). Furthermore, the act also permitted students to file law suits when they are denied these provisions. Other laws that affects the public education includes the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, Equal Access Act which is against viewpoint discrimination, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which covers the discrimination of students with disabilities and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 which covers the discrimination of students of the basis of gender (Russel, 2000).
Even after the numerous efforts of the government to enact laws that could address the problems on the equality of opportunities for students, there are still several issues affecting it. Professors Adam Gamoran and Geofrey Borman tried to revisit the 1966 Colman Report. Gamoran found out that the “levels of segregation are nearly as high today as they were in 1966” although there was a decrease in the achievement gaps of Black-White but still considerable. On the other hand Borman found out that some of the behind the achievement gaps is due to teaching biases by the teachers inclined to favor students from the middle class and also attributed to the reliance of the schools of both academic and non-academic tracking (Wisconsin Center for Education Research, 2012). Among the programs attempted to solve these issues have been the introduction of Head Start program which focuses on providing a preschool for low-income families. Another program implemented is the transporting of the students to school outside their neighborhood in an attempt to achieve racial balance but hadn’t proven to be the right solution (CliffsNotes).
The attempt to equalize the opportunities for all members of the society had indeed come along way. Comparing it to its previous state, it has advanced; however, there are still issues that need to be looked at by the government to fully implement its goal.
CliffsNotes (2012, January 20). Current Issues in Education. Retrieved from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Current-Issues-in-Education.topicArticleId-26957,articleId-26917.html
Education Law (2012, January 20). Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA). Retrieved from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Current-Issues-in-Education.topicArticleId-26957,articleId-26917.html
National Museum of American History (2012, January 20). Separate is not Equal, Brown v Board of Education. Retrieved from http://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/2-battleground/quest-for-education-1.html
Russel, Dennis (2000). The Role of Federal Government in Pubic Education in the Unites States. Retrieved from http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/edu/ed370/federal.html
Then Leadership Conference (2012, January 20). School Desegregation and Equal Educational Opportunity. Retrieved from http://www.civilrights.org/resources/civilrights101/desegregation.html
Wisconsin Center for Education Research. (2012, January 20). Coleman Report, Forty Years On. Retrieved from http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/news/coverstories/coleman_report_40_years.php
World Bank. (2012, January 20). Education for All (EFA). Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:20374062~menuPK:540090~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282386,00.html