Our education system is biased toward a minority of students. The poorest schools tend to have higher minority student enrollments and are funded at levels far below those in neighboring suburban districts. Recent studies show that schools with high minority student enrollments have poorer resources, fewer qualified teachers, and a worse quality of curriculum. While there are many potential causes for this imbalance, we must consider them all before we can begin to address them.
The assignment of students to classrooms has been shown to be racially biased. For example, black students are twice as likely to be placed in the lowest-performing classes than white students. In addition, black students are disproportionately affected by lower expectations from teachers. These differences stem from a variety of reasons, including cultural misunderstandings and unconscious implicit bias. Despite these factors, the education system continues to be biased.
Inequitable schools are a common result of low-income neighborhoods. Children of color are particularly vulnerable to poverty, and attend schools with many students of color who also live in poverty. If students of color score low on standardized tests, they are probably being taught by less-experienced teachers with limited extracurricular opportunities. The discourse surrounding low scores often revolves around “extra” support for students and teachers, which assumes that the problem lies in the student.
While increasing funding has improved educational outcomes, school funding is still racially and economically unequal. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 35 percent of public school revenue is derived from property taxes. Richer areas benefit from steady funding from property taxes, while poorer communities must rely on more volatile state revenue. Meanwhile, schools in predominantly non-white communities receive $23 billion less than their white counterparts.
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