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Over the past few years, it has become apparent that the American Education system is failing. This is a classical argument that is advanced by Moore in his publication entitled “Idiot Nation”; Moore argues that America, being the world’s richest country is lagging behind from an educational point of view.
This is also an argument advanced by Orfied Grays’s “Schools more separate” as he documents that from the early 1990’s, American schools have become more segregated. With a large focus being placed on corporate earnings at the expense of its educational systems, the country is destined for desegregation at the expense of educating its citizens.
The public schools are separate and unequal; they are also to a very significant extent racially segregated. As Orfield (par. 2) point out, the measure of resources between schools is not equal in terms of quantity and quality. This paper therefore provides useful insights on the state of American education; it also provides suggestive arguments on where the problem lies and its causes, and finally it points out as to why the American educational situation is desegregating.
The state of American Education System
America faces present and possibly future educational problems if the current persistent educational problems are not addressed. In March, 2009, President Obama articulated that the current educational system must work towards improving the student performance in an effort to regain the lost international educational standing, he further quoted “……..despite our unmatched resources globally, our grades are still poor, schools crumble, the quality of our teachers constantly falling short and other nations outdo us.” It is also important to note that even with this reality nothing much has been done to improve the quality of America’s public education.
For many Americans residing in major cities with no firsthand information with regard to the actual happenings in the public schools; there is a tendency to generalize and create a vague idea that the greater racial segregations that were of major concern some forty or many years down the line have diminished in the recent American years. The truth however is the reverse; those schools that were segregated by then are now less segregated while those that were integrated are now gradually becoming more re-segregated.
The Public School Enrolment Trends
Kozol (par.7), in his article “Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid” says that by the year 2002-2003, in Chicago, 87% of the enrolment in public schools was black or Hispanic; with the remaining proportion being white.
The same trend was also observed in Washing D.C, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles and even New York City. These general trends in enrolment rates, where Africans or Hispanic origin racial citizens occupy a large percentage of the poorest public schools represent how deeply isolated the poorest of American citizens have been in the pursuit of education.
To further compound the problem, Orfield Gray (par. 15) of Harvard University in the publication, “Re-segregation in American Schools” argues that the little progress that had been made in the early 60’s towards integration has now been reversed.
Large proportion of America’s black students were in minority schools between 1968-69 whereby the educational standards were poor as compared to white schools, the figure of black students dropped slightly to 62.9% in 1996-97from the earlier figures of 76.6%, unfortunately by 1971 the figure had regressed further to 68% of students of black origin in an integrated environment.
As others would point out, it would be a disheartening experience if great American minds like Martin Luther Jnr. were to visit public schools that have their names or that of other leaders who fought for schools integration only to find out that a number of these schools are promoting “Contemporary Segregation.”
The Public School Segregation
In New York City, a school named after Martin Luther Jnr. was located in the upper middle class of white residents in the hope that many of the white students from the neighborhood would easily access the school given its location while the blacks and Hispanic students would perhaps use other modes of transport to come to the school.
In 1975 during the opening of the school “it was seen” as Dillon Sam reported in The New York Times (par. 3) “…as a progressive effort to integrate white, Hispanic and black students…” It turned out that the parents from the neighborhood were reluctant to take their children to the school even with its location and ‘cultural expectations’; not long after, the school became home to black and Hispanic students who were denied admission into better performing schools. Today, the school represents the nation’s problematic architect of an American expectation that is quickly receding and a legacy of betrayal.
Causes of American Public School Educational Segregation
Perhaps the main reason why racial segregation thrives can be attributed to the refusal to accept the existence of the problem or refusal to openly talk passionately about the problem as otherwise would have been advanced fifty years ago or so. Most of the schools for that matter do not even want to be associated with words like ‘Racial segregation’ and instead misleading statements as ‘Diverse student population’ are often used to describe such schools.
Subsequently, the cause of segregation in American schools is largely attributed to social and political factors: these include court rulings that reversed desegregation orders in the late 1980s, the progressive isolation of whites in the suburban schools, with increasing segregation of their black and Hispanic counterparts in suburban schools.
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Orfield Gray (par. 18) further argues that the number of white students has in the recent years dropped while that of their black and Hispanic counterparts has re tremendously grown; this has led to the widening of racial segregation. This is in contrast to an earlier expectation and argument advanced by Moore (par. 6) that the education system has continuously created a divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and that education should be universally accessed by everyone.
The Public education systems also fail as a result of sabotage by many educational stakeholders including teachers, administrators, and political legislators. Public education from the conservative’s point of view, fails due to social and cultural inclinations that interfere with classroom discipline and moral framework of education.
The gap of achievement between black and white students progressively narrowed between the years of integration until 1980, it started to record higher widening gaps in 1990s as a result of Federal courts’ decision to resegragate by abandoning the principles of Brown decision. The gap continuously widened or remained unchanged with public secondary schools recording the wider gaps ever.
As America deepens racial isolation and educational inequalities in education, finance and uptake of innovative reforms, the inner city schools are busy making choices other than urban public schools. Many of these public school children have been forced to dedicate a great deal of time and energy into developing appropriate adaptive mechanisms that will guarantee discrete gains within the limits that the educational inequalities allow.
Dillon, Sam. “Merger of Memphis and County School Districts Revives Race and Class Challenges”. The New York Times, 5th Nov. 2011. Web.
Kozol, Jonathan. “Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid”. Harper’s Magazine V.311, N.1864, 2005. Print
Moore, Michael. Idiot Nation.Vol. 24. Westminster: Penguin Publishers, 2005. Print
Orfield, Gray. Schools More Separate: Consequences of a Decade of Re-segregation. Cambridge MA: Harvard University, 2001. Print