Issues of poverty, discrimination and inequality in today's American schools
The number of poor children in America today is higher with a percentage that is three times more than white children are. Today, about thirty three million people in America are poor meaning that in a group of seven, one person is poor. About 40% of black children are born into poor families compared to only 8% of the white children and, there has been an increase since 2009. Two thirds of the children born to poor families have a high probability to remain in the same condition for the better part of their childhood life. The likelihood of poor children remaining in the same condition, as they were when they were born is seven times more than the white children do (Gracia 218). Today, the number of poor children is distressingly growing in America. For children under six years, one in every four children is poor and one in every two black and Hispanic children is poor.
Discrimination is more pronounced in the United States where discrimination of blacks and Latinos is widely displayed. Latinos are mostly rated as being minor and have histories of racial discrimination in America. The effects on the same students are different in different schools. The black and Latino children are highly concentrated in schools known to belong to low achievers and those that are separated from the rest because of the issue of color. These children come from poor backgrounds and the schools they attend employ teachers who are less qualified. The qualification of a teacher shown by a research has an impact in the life of a student because it affects the learning ability of the student (Tischler 375). In the today’s American society, the children born to poor families are even disadvantaged before their birth. This is because mothers do not have access to good prenatal care which can even lead to death during birth.
Segregation in American schools is more pronounced than it was forty years ago. Many black and Latino students attend high schools commonly known as dropout schools. Most of these students do not qualify for join colleges or even secure a future. The school system is broken and provides poor standards to students of color; they only provide opportunities that are limited (Fabricant 19).
Inequality involves partial preferences and, it includes economic inequality. This involves unequal distribution of income and assets. In the United States, this issue has a direct relation to the way in which wealth is distributed (Kozol 3). Inequality is also rampant in American schools in that the schools in low-income states often experience inequality in areas of funds, curriculum and teachers. These schools employ unqualified staff; they have health problems, high rate of crimes and unstable residential areas. In the recruitment, into the job market and colleges, those who attended low-income institutions are likely to be ignored (Berg 56).
Black and Latino students attend most schools in America named after past leaders. In an elementary school named after Thurgood Marshall, 95% of the students in attendance are those from the minority group. The students in this school were not even aware of the work that Marshall did to promote injustice in schools. In the school, there were no references to the struggle that Marshall took part in against segregation. Some were not aware that the school was segregated just because of the presence of very few white children in class. From the year 2003, Thurgood Marshall high school has definitely left out its academic purpose. Many teachers have left the school and the school quality has dropped since then. The school involves itself in everything but academics and insecurity is on the rise (The shame on the nation: is the dream alive?).
In Roosevelt high school, very little has changed since the visit made by Kozol in 2003. The principal is the same and the school has got high expectations for its students. The school’s plans are frequently updated with the aim of making the school better. The school has introduced e-learning programme that enables students and teachers to learn over the internet.
In another school named after Rosa Parks, about 86% of students are black and Hispanic from poor backgrounds. The school has however changed since the study was made. For example, in the year 2009, all students except one graduated to college. The school has improved tremendously towards the success of the students.
In a school named after Dr. King, a whole 99% and 98% of the students are either black or Hispanic while the percentage rate of those who graduate is 38%. Dr King schools are located in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Boston, and Philadelphia states. Dr. King had left a good legacy behind; he lived a life of peace and also preached and taught peace. The school despite its bad reputation has since seen many students graduate in 2003.
Jackie Robinson’s school consists of 96% of students are black and Hispanic. The school has however, experienced few changes since Kozol’s visit. The number of black students is still high at 78%, the Hispanic students are 19% while the white children only constitute a 2% of the school population. The school’s administration is however, dedicated to empowering students to become responsible leaders. The school is working hard to become the best school in the states.
A primary school that was named after Langston Hughes, the black and Hispanic students constituted 90% of the population. A hero called Fannie Lou Hamer has a school named after them and the population of non-American students is 98%. This leader was among those who fought against segregation in the South. The principal has changed and the one present is Lorraine Chanon. The school’s main objective is to enable underserved students. A middle school named after Paul Robeson less than one percentage of the students who enroll are Caucasian (López and López 105). Since Kozol’s visit, the student population has almost remained the same. Hispanic and black students make up 98% of the population while the whites and Asians make up only 2%.
The school named after Martin Luther King is not deeply segregated and is attended by whites but on conditions. The condition they have given is that all non-American students should go to school only by bus or train and the rest can use their own means (Kozol 3). The school was started in 1975. The school was initially meant to bring both white and black students together, but most parents were reluctant to that. In the end, the school was left to the non-American students and is now viewed as the most problematic school despite the weight of the name that the school is named after. 54% of the students are African-American and Hispanic students are 42%. The whites, Asians and others only constitute 3.8% of the student population. The school eventually shifted ownership to the segregated group, and it experiences disorder and unhappiness. This place is characterized by violence, which gives white children more reason not to attend the school (Presseisen 210). The school had once been involved in a shooting and this took place during the anniversary of Dr. King. The principal of the school when Kozol visited was Ronald Wells but the present principal is William Wade. The school’s population however, is mostly made up of African American students as it were in 2003.
Most students who are in the highly segregated schools have felt the weight of discrimination from both school and neighborhoods. The main reason for inequality in education is mainly money. The gaps that exist in schools are so pronounced where in rich states, more money is spent on one child, which could be spent on three children in poor schools. Politicians have the perception that spending money on poor children is just a waste of resources. This also applies when selecting students to join colleges, where students are divided into groups such as fast, average and slow students (Weir 433).
Most schools in the central city only have a three percentage of white students in attendance, and the number of black students graduating has not increased in the past years. Students do not graduate because of the feeling that they are not welcomed in schools also financial problems. Inequality is like cancer spreading like wild fire in American society, and worsening each day. The United States is mostly affected by inequality a scenario that may eventually spread to the entire globe (Kozol 7).
The achievement gap that exists between the white and black children had narrowed in the 80s but it started to widen in the 90s. From then, the gap has steadily become wide or sometimes remaining the same for a certain period of time. Recently the gap in fourth grade children has decreased but that of high school students is increasingly widening.
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Gracia, Jorge. Race or ethnicity?: On Black and Latino identity. Cornell University Press, 2007.
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