I want to discuss America’s education system and access to education. I want to discuss education equity and the closure of the prominent achievement gap that spans between rich and poor. As a student who believes in the power of an education, it’s something I am passionate about.
According to the US Constitution in the Education Amendment of 1972, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Education is a right. Each individual should have access to a quality education no matter his or her gender, geographical location, religion, race, and class, and yet, it’s something that we struggle with in this nation, the forward-thinking grand country that is America. While we discuss and debate, many are trying to answer one question: what can we do about it? What can we do to close this education gap between white, black, and Hispanic individuals, between high income and low income children?
The topic is complex without doubt, but I hope to dissect it in certain segments, with the intent of including standardized testing statistics, the lottery system, charter schools, government initiatives, and US’s international education rankings. I care about this topic because it regards educating the younger citizens who will be the next generation to make improvements, push for innovation and advancements. I care about this topic because no one deserves to lose an education because of some bad luck.
This issue of education equity is ubiquitous when it comes to standardized testing. According to the article “Testing and Social Stratification in American Education” in the Annual Reviews, the gap is prevalent not simply in the ACT or SAT, but in the standardized tests given to elementary school students and college students, tests like the LSAT, MCAT, and GRE. For example, the study states that at age 13, children whose parents are college-educated have 30 points more than students whose parents are high school dropouts in both reading a math standardized tests, specifically the National Assessment of Education Progress testing. At age 17, 30 points separate those two groups in math and 40 in reading. And there are numerous figures and statistics that show there is a gaping difference between racial and social class group.
What is most disappointing, as Elsa Nunez states in her article in the Huffington Post, is that these NAEP test scores among many minority students actually are falling even more when the students progress through their education. For instance, she states “the gap between white, presumably more affluent students in Connecticut and their Latino and African American counterparts grows 4-6 points in reading, math and writing tests between the 4th and 8th grades”. Thus, what occurs is higher dropout rates from Hispanic and African American minorities. With higher dropout rates, there is a lack of needed education to obtain a career, and thus, the cycle continues and we are left with those without an education in poverty.
Why is this? Why is there that gap? In a society where our technology is getting faster and more efficient, where we can now grow new organ, some students are falling behind in math and reading due to lack of resources. I want to make it clear that standardized testing is not a full proof method in measuring intelligence by any means. There has been much debate on its ability to measure what it means to be successful, and I am one who has looked at its flaws, but it’s hard to ignore when consistently, low income minority individuals are doing poorly overall.
They don’t have the money to access necessary resources to do well. Those who can afford it hire tutors to teach them the needed material, the basics in reading comprehension, trigonometry and arithmetic, in writing a quality essay. Those who can afford those test prep books get the upper edge, with numerous practice exams done. On a deeper level, those who have access to better teachers, who happen to be lacking in those areas of poverty, are more prepared to think deeply, to have a changed view on life, to be motivated to do something and gain a good foundation for learning more.
Why is it that where you live, in an affluent geographical location with good schools rather than “drop-out factories” as some call it, what class standing you are placed in, and your race bar some from receiving as good as an education as some if education is a right, if it’s so significant for not just one person but for the globe in its entirety?
“We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought” – FDR