The demographic in the US is still shifting and this has consequences in the school population. There was also a lot of attention paid to the education of the girl who has held the children aside. Education policies and political decisions have also been continually evolving, contributing to the privatization of public education. All these factors have had a negative impact on the education system. In the next fifteen years, therefore, the restoration of equality in the US education system will be an urgent matter.
Gender inequality in schools is evident right from the level of kindergarten. The parents determine when their child will start school while teachers determine if a child qualifies for the next level. Five years is the average to begin school, but delays are reported especially among children from well-off families. Most boys are also late entrants, and they repeat classes at rates higher than girls. The general performance gaps have been harmonized over the years, but at individual subjects, differences continue to manifest mainly in science, math, and writing. Boys achieve higher scores in mathematics, and the same can be said for girls when it comes to writing (Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel 320-323). These gender gaps are prominent among children of low social standing and become significant as students move to upper classes, girls stand out at the fifth grade. They have also closed the gap in performance and are outdoing the boys in math and science. They are also taking on math oriented courses outnumbering the boys. Boys continue to experience difficulties in the ‘girls’ subjects, and this is being observed across all levels of schooling. Boys also form the largest percentages of minority groups and exhibit antisocial tendencies which have been linked to their poor performance in reading. Girls show better behavioral skills including leadership competencies, attentiveness, and interest in school work. They also shine in cultural and extracurricular activities which contribute to their academic success and consequently their increased enrollment chances in colleges. Among African Americans, women receive the bulk of undergraduate degrees followed by the Hispanics then the native Americans (Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel 320-322).
Inequality also manifests along social class and racial lines. At Berkeley High School, students are of mixed races and social classes. Segregation into social classes is not as open as all students claim to be of the middle class even with facts such as residence and income stating otherwise (Sacks 64-65).Academic performance here is influenced by social standing and race. Blacks show low achievement as they have been brought up in a culture of low expectation. The whites are high-performers as shown in high school and in college placement exams where they pass with excellent grades. Their numbers are also so high as compared to the black students who score D’s, and only a handful participates in the enrollment exams (Sacks 65-66). It is very clear that at Berkeley High, performance is divided along racial lines where the Whites and the Asians have segregated themselves within Academic Choice program which serves academic giants leaving out the blacks who are not so endowed (Sacks 71-73).
The introduction of charter schools also created inequality in the education sector in terms of the quality of education being offered in the public and charter schools. Charter schools were introduced to compete with public schools so that the latter could be compelled improve its services. Interestingly the charter schools falsely rate children very highly but when they move to higher education levels in different institutions, these students struggle to keep up, and their performance deteriorates tremendously. In contrast, students from public schools seem comfortable and actually perform even better (Zernike 1,6). Divisive education policies and also politics have contributed to the detriment of public education as numerous charter schools keep cropping up just to get the funding money rather than offer sound education. These schools assume bottom positions when ranked with the public schools and most of them have been found to be below the expected performance levels. They also hold up students for so long and do not provide students with evidence of enrolment. As such, students need to repeat the same classes when transferred to a different institution, and they become over-aged and yet fall short of the required high school and even college entry grades. This pushes them to find alternatives, while some may never further their education. Again the social classes affected are those who are poor as the middle-class whites and blacks fled from the situation (Zernike 2-3,11-13).These institutions continue to remain in business because no political figure can close them down, only those who run them have that power to do so (Zernike 3). Also when the charter of a school is revoked, another university issues another and this cycle continues.
Zernike, Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel and Sacks, all have brought out attributes that are being presented in two extremes in the education system. Sacks brings out the extremes of academic performance and shows the races that are at each extreme. Buchmann et. al., also rates the position of the female and the male genders in the academic realm. Similarly, Zernike compares the academic performance between students in conventional public schools and those at Charter schools. All the writers have also outlined the causes of these (Zernike1-2; Sacks 65-66; Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel 321) inequalities in their texts. According to Buchmann et. al, the education system is favoring the girl child, and she is also putting more effort to excel academically. On the other hand, boys face inherent problems which hinder their performance. Boys also do not possess qualities that contribute to success and this is only seen as they mature. In her work, Zernike attributes the poor performance in charter schools to the lack of regulation and supervision. Sacks attributes the nonperformance of the African Americans to being pushed aside particularly by the whites who confine themselves to the Academic Focus Program which seemed to discriminate against the black. All of them also agree that the poor are the most affected under these unequal circumstances (Zernike 2-4; Sacks 66-68; Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel 323-328).
There are also differences inherent in these works. Compromised quality of education in Charter schools and racial segregation are each brought about by single authors while Gender inequality is written by three authors. Buchmann et. al., work is a review of previous works while Zernike’s and Sack’s works are their original work.The Gender Inequality and Racial Segregation texts were produced in 2008 and 2007 respectively suggesting that things might have changed by now while Zernike’s work is recent, produced in 2016.While Buchman et al., published their work in a journal, Sack’s work is a book chapter while Zernike’s is a newspaper publication. Sack writes in the first person account while the other two report their work with bits of direct speech in Zernike’s work (Zernike; Sacks; Buchmann, DiPrete, and McDaniel 320).
Implementing reforms to achieve equality in the education sector will be the most urgent issue in the next fifteen years. This is so because as population structure in the US continues to change, the Blacks are advancing and moving from the low social classes towards the upper classes. Sacks’ text is a decade old and racial discrimination though still there is not quite a big issue as ten years ago. In the next fifteen years, the African American students who have the ‘immigrant‘status will have overcome it and focused on the American dream which is to perform well in academics and attain high educational levels through the effort to gain respect from others including the whites. To achieve this, they are expected to mingle more freely with white students so that they can be mentored academically It is also expected that the whites will have embraced these people of color extend their support to them.
Focusing on the issues that affect the girl child have been on the forefront in the recent times, and this has neglected the boy child. If things remain as they are, then girls will continue excelling while boys will be faced out in the esteemed careers that are attained by academic excellence. In the next fifteen years, the focus should shift to boy issues so that they can also be assisted to pull through just like the girls did.
Politics continues to be brought in even in non-political issues. In the privatization of public education which saw the introduction of charter schools, politics played a major role in passing laws without putting proper regulation and oversight structure and the result is an unruly system of charter schools that cannot be effectively guided. In the next fifteen years, it is expected that education reforms will have been put in place to streamline the charter schools if they cannot be abolished altogether. The Congress and state governments would pass laws that would make these schools more accountable.
These inequalities in the education sector are continuously propagated.With these trends where girls and women do better in the education system, while the boys and the men will remain in the background. Where blacks come across as poor academic performers while the whites excel and where students in charter schools are offered poor quality education as compared to their colleagues in the public schools; there is a need to balance out all these extremes so that performance is normalized. This normalization should aim at bringing equity which can only be achieved through sound reforms.
- Buchmann, Claudia, Thomas a. DiPrete, and Anne McDaniel. “Gender Inequalities in Education.” Annual Review of Sociology 34.1 (2008): 319–337. Web.
- Sacks, Peter. “Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education.” Liberal Education 21.6 (2009): 61–78. Print.
- Zernike, Kate. “A Sea of Charter Schools in Detroit Leaves Students Adrift.” The New York Times. N.p., 2016. Web. 9 May 2017.