This chapter looks at education in the United States with a focus on the effects of school segregation.
The education of minorities and immigrants groups as stated by Goodman et al. “has been less than stellar.”
In 1906 an international crisis was sparked by the San Francisco Board of Education.
Japan was upset to learn that SF segregated all children of Asian ancestry.
It was not only the South that was implementing Jim Crow laws;.
In fact, the case of Mendez v. Westminster that formed the basis for Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
The Mendez family (of Mexican heritage) had sued and won.
Thurgood Marshall, at that time the head of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) learned of this case. [FYI: If you do not know it Marshall later joined the U.S. Supreme Court and is associated with many anti-discrimination cases.]
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9:0 that outlawed school segregation. The separate but equal argument was unlawful.
Specifically it overturned the 1899 decision of Cummings v. Richmond County Board of Education where the Court had validated this practice.
In spite of the ruling schools did not immediately segregate.
Instead the Court ordered schools to act with “all deliberate speed”.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 marked the actual law that promoted a change. Most states desegregated in the 1960s/1970s.
Further, this ruling also did not disallow segregation in other public facilities such as buses and diner counters.
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Recent studies have demonstrated that segregation remains in place in poor, urban neighborhoods.
This geographic segregation of housing has a negative impact on the quality of schools for some minorities.
With less access to resources affects teaching.
The year 2011 represents the 4th consecutive year where poverty increased (bur rate slowed). 15.3% in 2010, and 15.9% in 2011 ((U.S. Census Bureau)
In 2011, about 15.9 percent of the U.S. population had income below the poverty level, an increase from 15.3 percent in 2010.
It is important to keep the denominator in mind and that is why Goodman et al use percentages (it standardizes the comparisons).
Whites actually represent the largest group in poverty by total numbers in 2010:
“Whites only” count as 222,010,000 in 2011 with 25,659,922 under the poverty line (11.6%)
“Blacks only” count as 36,699,584 in 2011 with 9,472,583 under the poverty line (25.8%)
Poverty rate is highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives (27.0 percent, 2,414,908 ); according to the U.S. Census Bureau, “Among Hispanics, and national poverty rates ranged from a low of 16.2 percent for Cubans to a high of 26.3 percent for Dominicans.” (with an average of 23.2%, 48,190,992).
Only 25% of poor white families live in neighborhoods where there are levels of concentrated poverty (over 20% of households are poor as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau). This compares to a rate of 75% for blacks and 66% for Latinos.
The numbers tell another story. Rural poor are more likely to be white. Same resource issues, different ethnicity proportions.
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During the 1960s/1970s both state and federal governments pushed for desegregation; busing was one such method.
They had a limited success.
In both the North and South bussed children were harassed.
Another response is called ‘white flight”: Whites fled to the suburbs to avoid bussing policies.
Busing also isolates children from social networks.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the ethnic mix in public schools has changed. Comparing the school years of 2000-02 and 2007-08:
Number of whites decreased from 61% to 56%.
Unchanged were the number of blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN) at 17% and 1%.
The number of Hispanic/Latino/a children increased from 17% to 21%
Asian Pacific Islanders increased from 4% to 5%.
In the 1990s a series of legal challenges successfully overturned many segregation policies.
In some cities, as a result, the level of segregation has essentially returned to that of 50 years ago.
Goodman et al present two case studies that illustrate this history: Boston (where only 15% of public school children are white) and Louisville (white parents took to U.S. Supreme Court to stop racial discrimination and won; what this means in policy terms remains unclear).
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Closing the “Achievement Gap”
There is a persistent test score gap between whites/Asians/Pacific Islanders when compared to Latinos and blacks.
The term achievement gap is loaded and so Goodman et al prefer “opportunity gap” as more clearly a discussion of the real issues.
Many factors contribute to this gap in test scores:
Parents’ educational level, poorer resourced schools, less qualified teachers, and fewer high-level academic courses make a difference.
Another difference is the capacity of richer students to pay for test preps such as the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Testing).
For instance watch this link to hear how the SAT scores are going down because more students are applying.
There is a new grassroots movement called “SAT optional movement”; one organization that promotes this idea is National Center for Fair & Open Testing (“FairTest”)
They claim there are gender and ethnic biases on the standardized tests.
According to their mission statement, they place “special emphasis on eliminating the racial, class, gender, and cultural barriers to equal opportunity posed by standardized tests, and preventing their damage to the quality of education.” (para. 2).
Many students are the recipients of tracking: the push to find non-college careers for students.
These tracked students are placed in non-academic paths because of teacher recommendations, test scores, grades, and their parents.
Data points to African Americans, Latinos and low income students as most often tracked.
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Closing the “Achievement Gap”
One consequence of tracking is a failure to see college as an option or to be underprepared for college.
Another is underrepresentation at elite schools in spite of academic ability.
One response to tracking is the community college movement.
According to Educational Encyclopedia (2013) there are 3 categories of such colleges:
Two-year colleges which offer associate degrees (EvCC for instance)
Junior colleges that primarily focus on liberal arts transfer degrees.
Technical colleges/technical institutes which concentrate on vocational education.
The first of these were seen in the mid-1800s and were mostly technical colleges
Both the G.I Bill for education and the Baby Boom prompted a significant growth in the community college system. Today about 1200 are in existence.
Who goes? According to the American Association of Community Colleges (2013) more women than men, and more minorities than universities).
Community colleges are “open enrollment” meaning no standardized tests and the only other requirement for transfer students is a high school diploma.
No diploma? Community colleges provide classes and also ELL classes and college preparation classes.
Here are some helpful tips: 4 Ways to Avoid Taking Remedial Math Courses & 7 Steps to Success at Community College & 4 Tips to Finish Community College
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Affirmative Action: Undoing inequality
Goodman et al comment on the endurance of affirmative action laws. A short timeline is useful:
1935 saw the implementation of the U.S. Social Security Act which moved many elderly out of poverty.
Maid and farmworkers were excluded, enough though 60% of African Americans worked in these professions. This changed in the 1950s.