Problem with American School Systems
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
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
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.