Social justice is defined as fairness with respect to the distribution of resources, opportunities, and benefits within society. In other words, individuals are expected to achieve their societal role expectations and obtain the due privileges from different institutions in society. The basic institutions are health care facilities, education, security, and other general public institutions.
In this paper, the social problem to be discussed is education with close reference to Huguenot High school and its needs to encourage students to transition to college after completing high school education. Huguenot is part of the Richmond Public Schools system based in Richmond, Virginia, with most of its population being African American.
Richmond is one of the cities in the United States struggling to stem the tide of a deteriorating number of students transitioning from high school to college education. More African American students enroll in Huguenot every year with a dream of gaining relevant skills and enhance their lot in the US.
Unfortunately, African American students are increasingly doing poorly, lagging behind, or even dropping out of school, as opposed to their white peers in other schools in the US (Melton 219). Partly, the education system and policies in the US have been blamed for various social injustices contributing to these disproportionalities.
Ryan describes education as both the basis and the unifying factor towards a justice society (13). From this perspective, the overarching objective of Huguenot is to prepare students to become productive within society. However, in a bid to understand and realize this essential objective of education, it is fundamental to evaluate how it is attained.
Education systems should embrace values such as cultural and racial tolerance, accountability, equality for all, and inclusive participation in decision-making (New and Merry 206). In a bid to address this issue, this paper will explore the situation in the Huguenot high school to establish some of the social factors that may be hindering success amongst students in Richmond.
Factors contributing to the social problem
Despite going through the high school learning process, students are not guaranteed success or rather their qualifications may not match their expectations. In Huguenot, a number of issues are adding to this social problem. For instance, poor administrative strategies, inadequacy of learning facilities, poor skill development techniques, poor handling of students welfare, and lack of strategies to involve the community in school development affairs among others.
In addition, stereotyped elements about race, class, and zoning are contributing to the current case in Huguenot. According to Ryan, the education reforms in the US have failed to close the gap between urban and suburban schools and they continue to enhance discrimination by class and race (32). For instance, it is a common conviction that the residents of Richmond get what they deserve in terms of education, living standards, and employment.
It is evident that Huguenot is struggling with the evolution of the student population in terms of diversity in race and class, but there is no proper criterion to deal with such issues. For instance, Latino, Indian, and Chinese students joining Huguenot take a lot of time trying to integrate since they cannot communicate well and the school lacks enough and motivated staff to help these students learn English.
The school is supposed to ensure that it has strategic plans that address all social justice issues affecting the students’ welfare. However, failure of students to transition successfully to college level cannot only be attributed to schools’ strategies, since individual students have a significant role to play. In addition, parents and the mainstream society in Richmond play an important role too.
The neighborhood of Richmond appears to be lagging behind in terms of development, which is highly linked to the often cases of crimes. It is argued that this condition has been magnified by the increased level of dependency on a few people who go beyond high school education and find jobs that are relied upon by the large unproductive population. Nonetheless, it is unjust to discriminate this society based on such claims; instead, the government should initiate programs to empower the people to find ways to generate income.
Race and equality
Despite the progress made by reforms following the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s, race, class, and ethnicity in the US education system either intentionally or unintentionally still persist. Due to this kind of discrimination, most minority students in the US find themselves crowded in the most unsuitable localities in the suburbs or shanties (Toson, Burrello, and Knollman 492). For instance, the poor conditions in Huguenot high school reflect the lifestyle of the Richmond neighborhoods, which is characterized by high levels of crime and poverty.
Despite these isolated signs of hope, the strategies taken by the federal state to better the situation are biased and non-inclusive. Even though education is offered for all races in the US, some schools depending on their zoning have been lagging behind for years. Class has gradually become the inhibiting factor for the blacks and other minority societies such as the Latino Americans. As African American students graduate from Huguenot high school, most of them fail to join colleges due to their poor grades or lack of motivation to move on.
Due to racial and ethnic segregation, most schools in Richmond still lag behind in terms of infrastructure and learning facilities. For instance, in Huguenot, the problem starts from the administration to the students’ attitude. The administration lacks proper models of engaging the students to discuss issues that affect their performance. On the contrary, the administration is quick to blame the students without considering the challenges they go through.
The school buildings are old and congested, which has led to overcrowding in the classrooms, thus encouraging bad habits and discouraging the teachers since they find it hard to control such classes. Other learning facilities such as computers are poorly maintained, broken, or they cannot support the modern learning programs needed by students. In addition, students have always complained about poor sanitation and the possibility of disease outbreaks. The diet is not different. Huguenot offers only drinks and snacks to students during lunchtime.
In addition to racial and ethnic challenges, linguistic challenges have also been evident in Huguenot. Linguistic minorities such as Indians and Latinos face barriers arising from United States’ educational system since students from these societies do not benefit from English based instructions to the same proportion as their white counterparts (Karpinski and Lugg 281). Huguenot has failed to address this issue adequately by introducing unique instructional facilities and additional bilingual teachers.
It is hard to point to a single department or individual for the social problems so far experienced in Huguenot high school. The students, parents, school administration, and the government have their role in this problem (Sandberg 451). Students are socialized in an environment that is filled with criminal activities and the level of criminality is reported to escalate during school holidays. This aspect implies that they are socialized to this behavior, which directly affects their performance in school (Saul and Curtis 49).
The government is reluctant to invest in areas where crime is rampant and the residents have generated negative mentality towards conformity. This perspective is narrow and it fails to account for the persisting needs of the students in Huguenot. Until the previous year, Huguenot had failed to contribute to a more fair society, but currently the situation is changing. As indicated earlier, the situation of the school did not offer desirable conditions for students to compete with their peers in other developed schools in urban white-populated regions across the country.
Following the increasing outcry from the students as well as teachers about overcrowding within the little space in Huguenot, at the end of 2014, the school planned to relocate to a bigger space in the neighborhood. At last, students had the chance to enjoy much space and benefits of a new building at the start of 2015. Therefore, Huguenot has started to experience equal privileges as most of other schools in the US. Just as most schools in the US, Huguenot’s new building is equipped with new furniture, modern sanitation facilities, tidy walls, and better management.
For the first time, students have shown appreciation for the efforts to recognize them in equal terms as the rest of students in the US. A new football pitch has reignited the passion of many students who have always aspired to enhance their skills in football and improve their chances of joining colleges of their choice. Unlike the previous years whereby Huguenot was experiencing sharp decrease in the number of students seeking high school education, the situation is expected to improve in the coming years because the standards are high and they can accommodate students from all races, classes, and ethnicities.
Recommendations to enhance the organization’s service
Effective leadership that embraces all students’ learning should be the core objective of Huguenot’s administration. Leadership should entail inclusive and consultative decision-making to ensure that all needs the involved parties are taken into account (Newman and Chen 61). Students, administration, educators, and parents have the potential to change the current barriers into opportunities and improve the number of students joining college after completing high school in Huguenot.
Therefore, focusing on all students’ learning without discrimination motivates the learners who in return aim at excellence as long as equity prevails (Toson, Burrello, and Knollman 37). Although these challenges undeniably exist, Huguenot is currently showing the desire to turn things around and improve the students’ ability to excel in all areas of life without discriminating them in any way. Secondly, quality teaching and learning should be enhanced through accountability and quality classroom instructions targeting all students particularly the linguistic minorities.
Equitable distribution of human and social capital should focus on supporting underprivileged students. Sandel argues that clear and collaborative relationships should always be embraced to reflect the needs of the students in a bid to help in the development of a successful society where justice prevails over the desire to possess goods (53). Since most students in Huguenot come from poor African American families, it is necessary to motivate them to build a positive mentality towards developing themselves through education by ensuring that they experience equal rights as their white counterparts.
It is also necessary to provide professional counsellors tasked to address the issues associated with living in crime zones and stigmatization that they may experience from peers of upper classes (Palmer 41). Students from such regions are more likely to engage in illegal activities such as drugs and theft in a bid to reduce stress and get money to cater for their needs, since they have to support themselves despite being in school.
Since it is evident that the situation in Huguenot is unfair to the Richmond society and in particular the students, there is a need for an appropriate approach to tackling the situation. The US education system continues to face many social inequalities, which should be addressed appropriately (Schwalbe 23). First, the city has to change its negative mentality about the society in Richmond and start offering jobs that can sustain a good livelihood for families.
This move will reduce the crime levels and provide students with a fair environment to concentrate on studies and qualify for college education. This goal can be achieved if the policymakers can introduce policies that facilitate the integration of people living around Huguenot in employment opportunities. This move will directly influence education and increase the number of high school leavers joining colleges.
It would be fair if the education system in the US adopted profound strategies that embrace tolerance, mutual respect for human rights, and inclusivity in decision-making. By doing so, it will be possible to achieve equal opportunity and privileges for Huguenot students that is consistent with a just society. Such privileges have been identified to enhance the chances of the African American and other minority students in Richmond to join colleges of their choice.
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