All over America there seems to be painfully obvious differences in the school systems which cater to the upper class majority and the ones that serve the lower and middle class minority. There is a strong undercurrent of racial inequality in today’s school systems, which negatively effect the quality of education that its students receive. A schools potential to give a proper education often depends on the perspective economic, and social, or should I say racial backgrounds of its students.
America’s school systems seem to be returning to their former state of segregation. If the government doesn’t do something to evenly distribute funds and programs in America’s schools the rate of poverty, crime, and illiteracy will steadily increase, thus widening the gap between the lower class and the rich. The population of minorities who live in the United States is constantly increasing and their numbers can contribute to the success or the failure of the nation.
Magnet schools, private schools, or suburban schools serve the upper class, majority of the American population. These schools are some of the best high schools in the nation. There are usually a small number of minority children who are lucky enough to attend such quality schools but white children defiantly make up the majority of upper class high school populations.
In an article that I read from the “National Catholic Reporter” called “A tale of two schools” the author Viebica Stokley discussed the differences between public schools and magnet schools. There were constant references made about the contrasting environments of good schools and mediocre ones. The magnet school mentioned in the article was called Franklin High. Franklin was a clean, well-lit school. It is air conditioned and freshly painted. There is no graffiti, the bathrooms are clean and there are no roaches or rats present. Franklin has an ample supply of books and supplies. Franklin has a huge library and a computer lab filled with new computers. The school has a TV studio, a new theater, and a school newspaper.
Students don’t skip classes or miss days at school. Franklin has few discipline problems; there are few fights, if any. Franklin has a fifteen to one teacher student ratio, which means that students are able to receive more one on one attention. Students who attend Franklin take college prep courses like Spanish, physics, and calculus. Students have higher overall grade averages and test scores. One hundred percent of the students who graduate from Franklin go on to college. The students who go to Franklin are given every opportunity to succeed and they don’t have to ever worry about being assaulted in school by some kid who is there to cause trouble instead of learn.
Public schools serve the lower class and middle class minorities whom, can’t afford to pay for a better education or are unable to find transportation to suburban schools. Inner city high schools are ranked the lowest in the nation when it comes to the quality of education they offer. The population in these schools is mainly black. African Americans make at least fifty percent of the population; Latin and Asian students usually help round out the rest of the population.
Unlike Franklin High, Fortier high is the complete opposite. The grounds were filthy and the school has no air conditioning. They are at a severe disadvantage because they don’t have enough books for all of their students. They have a small library that doubles as a classroom during the day. The school doesn’t have computers or a newspaper. Classes are over crowded; Fortier has a thirty to one student teacher ratio. Sometimes there are nearly forty students packed into one class. The 1,200 students that go to Fortier barely get attention form teachers. Usually children who start high school there who are already behind fall further behind.
Students that go to Fortier high skip classes and often miss days in school. Violence is a common occurrence here. News crews and police are constantly up at the school covering a story about guns or drugs. Fortier is known as the worst high school in New Orleans. Only twenty percent of Fortier’s one thousand students go on to a four-year college. Fortier’s collective grade point average is one point five. Most graduates would be lucky to find a mediocre factory job. Some students drop out and get a G.E.D or find a trade; others just fall by the wayside.
The combination of inadequate funding, lack of college prep classes and programs, lack of parent involvement, weak administration, teacher student apathy, and an undercurrent of racism almost guarantees the failure of poor and middle class minority students. The blatant disregard for lower class minority schools contributes to the delinquency of minority children who may eventually end up in penitentiaries.
There is a significant level of segregation and a serious lack of racial balance in today’s high schools.
In 1986, more than 70 percent of Hispanic students, compared to 64 percent of blacks, were enrolled in schools that were more than 50 percent minority; almost a third of Hispanic students were in schools more than 90 percent minority (Fife, 1992).
Low class schools with the least amount of resources have the greatest number of minority populations. Most educators have given up on the idea that all schools can be free of segregation. Minority families tend to gravitate toward larger cities in search of more blue-collar jobs, therefore lower class and middle class minorities all tend to go to the same schools. That explains why predominately black schools normally tend to be located in major cities. Educators feel that forced school integration would only cause the parents of white children to move their children to other school districts, this is known as white flight.
Since 1980, eight million immigrants have arrived in the U.S., bringing two million students into the nation’s schools (Olge, Alsalm, & Rogers, 1991).
This only further segregates the school system and complicates the problem of equal education in America. Many foreign students don’t speak good English; therefore they must be put into schools with special language programs instead of mainstream public schools. The fact that most immigrants are part of the lower class means that they will have to attend public schools as well.
All over America there are schools which have an unfair disadvantage over others. It seems like the government is either unable to provide every student with an equal opportunity to learn of they just don’t care about lower class and middle class minorities enough to try and make a change. I feel that the government will not step in and help out minority students. The ultimate responsibility for seeing to it that children receive the best education possible falls on the parents.
I am in no way excusing the government and its racially motivated practices when it comes to equal opportunity and education. I doubt that minority families choose to live in lower class neighborhoods and give their children a mediocre education. Being minority and poor are circumstantial situations not reasons why parents choose to raise their children in cities. This is certainly not a valid enough excuse for the government to ignore the fact that lower class minorities are not receiving a quality education.