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Inequality In American Education: A Contradiction To Actual Freedom

3129 words - 13 pages

Equality, America is driven by this one simple word, but how much of America is actually equal
to all citizens. If we were to walk into the nearest school, not all of the students have the same equal
education that was proposed by Thomas Jefferson centuries ago. The states themselves allow free and
equal education; however, through family income, race, and gender we can see that not much has
changed from 1776 to 2013. Yes, of course African Americans, women, and minorities can all go to
school, but cultural economic backgrounds handicap students from gaining a truly equal education.
Throughout Sabrina Tavernise’s article The Education Gap Grows Between the Rich and Poor, she
explains that the economic gap between high and low income families is affecting their children as
students. Authors like Samuel Bowles and Herbert Ginits argue in Schooling in Capitalist America-
Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life, that family income and economics plays an
important role on the ability of students to succeed in schools. Although family income produces
inequality in schools, race and gender roles that are portrayed in Peggy Orenstein’s Schoolgirls and
Signithia Fordham and John Ogbu’s Black Students’ School Success Coping with the” Burden of action
White” also contribute to the inequality in schools. Authors like Sabrina, Samuel Bowles, and Herbert
Ginits all give great detail that family icome plays an enormous role on inequality in education, but we
must also look to authors like Orenstein, Fordham, and Ogbu because they also explain how other
conflicts can cause inequality in schools.
Tavernise sheds light on the most important question in our society today. Does family income
affect our students’ abilities to succeed in the future? According to her article it most certainly does and
for the most part to the negative side of the spectrum. Tavernise summarizes an experiment which
consisted of taking 12 sets of standardized test scores and comparing them to the 90th and 10th
percentiles of family incomes. Students that scored in the 90th percentile had an average family income
of $160,000, while students that scored in the lower 10 percentile had a family income of $17,500
(Tavernise). Tavernise writes, “By the end of that period, the achievement gap by income had grown by
40 percent”(Tavernise). Students with low family incomes are linked to having low test scores, which can
be connected to the family life itself. Tavernise states, “one reason for the growing gap in achievement,
researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their
children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, etc. While lower-income families, which
are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and
resources (Tavernise).” Families that can afford for their kids to do extra after school activities are

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