Education and Social Justice: School Segregation

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Introduction

The quest to acquire quality education for children is one of the most vehement desires of parents in modern society. The guardians, governments, and society invest in funding education since it is sustainable development (Vaghela et al., 2020). Schools play a vital role in shaping a child’s life and imparting the skills and knowledge required for career and ethical development. Highly educated parents access better colleges quickly for their children’s education, thus being unable to change the existing inequalities between the rich and poor in education (Coldron et al., 2010). The academy can gain popularity due to continuous excellent performance alongside other factors covered in this study.

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Social discrimination based on social classes and race may manifest in a particular society and result in institutions’ bias. According to Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter (2018), soaring costs and unequal access to education, various educational resources in other schools, teaching, and performance are significant challenges facing the education sector. Therefore, a school may decline to admit certain students due to their race or social status. This study discusses inequalities exercised in academies and a possible solution to such inequalities.

Research description

Research conducted in twenty secondary schools located in one city; provides useful data in determining the extent of segregation in the city. The research was predominantly focused on the school and students. Several aspects of discrimination were considered, and the data were recorded. Some of the considerations included racial composition, religion, social status, and learners’ unusual temporal characteristics.

Some schools were very selective on whom to admit, whereby religious faith, the ability to pay, and performance in certain subjects were considered major factors during admission. Some students who did not fit in some of these categories could not secure admissions. Therefore, segregation manifested in these academies.

The data showing students’ racial composition in each institution were also collected. Eighteen schools out of twenty had white students as the dominant population in those academies. Two schools included black/minority ethnic (BME) students dominating in those colleges. In schools dominated by the white race, f the ratio of whites to black/minority of the whites’ ratio as 8:2, while for those with black/minority ethnic dominance, whites’ ratio to black is estimated at 3:2. Moreover, it is geographically clear that the schools with distinguished black students’ populations (4 and 6) are not considered independent. Therefore, a conclusion can be deduced that a broad population of a black race and few whites inhabited the area, thus demonstrating racial segregation in residential areas.

The research was extended to explore learners’ distinctive physical, behavioural, or psychological characteristics to identify those with special needs and disabilities. Any learner experiencing either a physical or mental disability requires meticulous attention, which might translate to more time with the teacher and more resources (Miller et al., 2019). Examples of such students include those on a wheelchair, slow learners, those with autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment, among other disorders. The parent can pay more for the learner to receive special attention from the teacher, while the academy should have the relevant resources for special teaching of those learners.

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The city schools’ data indicated that each of the twenty institutions admitted a certain percentage of learners with disabilities. The percentage was not uniform, with some institutions having a meagre percentage of learners with disabilities while others had a relatively higher percentage. For instance, schools 1, 3, and 9 had 6%, 8%, and 8% of the learners with disabilities, respectively. On the other side, schools 12, 7, and 8 had 41%, 34%, and 34% of learners with disabilities, respectively. It is also notable that the lower the percentage of learners with disabilities, the higher the enrollment is in academies 1, 3, and 9. The rise above maximum capacity is an indication that there were some favourable conditions for learners without disabilities, hence more joining those colleges. Vice versa is also right that the rise of the percentage of learners with disabilities lowered the enrolment as evident in schools 12, 7, and 8. This trend might indicate a pleasant environment for learners with disabilities, while those of other children were not well taken care of, leading to transfers to other academies.

The research also aimed to expose inequalities in schools resulting from societal social classes. Free academies meals (FSM) were considered the measure for differentiating the rich and the poor (Andrews et al., 2016). Free school meals are state support programs entitled to children from financially unstable backgrounds. Therefore, if the number of students entitled to FSM increases in a certain school, most scholars belong to low-income families while few are form stable families.

Schools 1, 3, 9, 13, and 19 retained few students who depend on free institution meals, while academies 12, 10, 6, 7, and 18 recorded an elevated number of students entitled to free school meals. Considering a reference to the six schools discussed earlier, a comparison can be made to determine the extent of discrimination in schools. Colleges 1, 3, and 9 had 4%, 4%, and 7% of students entitled to FSM, respectively, while schools 7, 8, and 12 had 37%, 25%, and 47% of students entitled FSM, respectively. The data still indicate that most students in academies 1, 3, and 9 belong to financially stable families while 7, 8, and 12 schools belong have more scholars from more limited social classes.

Teaching and learning effectiveness is measured by administering exams and tests at certain levels. In the twenty schools, an evaluation was performed at two levels; key stage 3 levels and the general certificate of secondary education (GCSE). Key stage 3 level comprises learners aged between eleven and thirteen years and represents the national curriculum for seven to nine years. At the end of the level, examinations are administered by the teacher, whereby learners are expected to score at least level five, which is set as the pass mark. The general certificate of secondary education (GCSE) is attained by students scoring grades A to C in certain subjects. GCSE level academies consist of learners aged between eleven and sixteen years.

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The data collected from the city schools indicated that some institutions recorded the most significant percentages of students who had attained 5+ marks in key stage 3 level and grades A to C at the GCSE level. Examples of such schools were 3, 13, 5, 1, and 9, whereby they recorded 96%, 94%, 90%, 89%, and 88% of pupils attaining level 5+ in English, respectively. However, schools 11, 7, 12, 6, and 18 had 40%, 42%, 44%, 45%, and 48% of learners with level 5+ in English respectively. The same trend was maintained at the GCSE level when academies 3, 13, 5, 1, and 9 were compared with schools 11, 7, 12, 6, and 18. Therefore, a substantial difference in performance was observed between the two groups of schools. The results indicate that some schools discriminated against learners based on particular subjects’ performance.

Inequality at schools

Attainment of social justice can be a suitable remedy to inequalities demonstrated in schools, whereby some learners may end up having negative self-esteem. Lambert (2018) states that social justice principles were existed in 2002 but disappeared over time with the emergence of other related ideas and opinions. The emerging concerns on societal social equality expose how discrimination manifests in schools (Gorard, 2014). Therefore, social justice in schools is very likely to be reborn.

The information summarised in section 1 above is crucial in understanding the impact of segregation on social justice. The performance of learners at both key stage 3 and GSCE levels had many variations in the twenty institutions. The data indicated that some schools had a considerable percentage of students attaining pass marks and above while others remarkably received few attaining the pass mark. The schools performing poorly in key stage 3 level were the same schools performing poorly in the GCSE, while those with good performance maintained both at key stage 3 and GCSE levels. Moreover, the academies performing poorly were concentrated within the same area.

Several factors can lead to poor performance in schools. According to Hodgkinson-Williams and Trotter (2018), substandard performance may result from a lack of necessary academic materials, poor technological materials, and poor infrastructure in the school such as; good classrooms, libraries, and laboratories. Barker and Hoskins (2015) state that rich families tend to educate their kids in prestigious academies. Schools such as 11, 7, 12, 6, and 18 might have lacked these essentials for learning, which were available in schools 3, 13, 5, 1, and 9 that were producing the best results. Instead, there exists one thing of an agreement that diversity and selection ought to be the hallmark of people, secondary institution system, and a few degree of choice by aptitude, if not scholarly attainment that is allowed at intervals to it (Power & Whitty, 2015). Inequality manifests itself, whereby the government favours some schools by providing resources that can enhance good performance while discriminating against others.

A distinction was also put between students studying English as an additional language and English native scholars. Faser (2005) describes cultural inequality in education, whereby she described the natives as esteemed while studying their local language, while immigrants feel misrecognised. Therefore, the discrimination based on language is cultural, whereby some schools admit many students with EAL while others admit very few (Morris & Perry, 2016). Most of the students in 1, 7, 11, 19, and 20 can be described as English natives, while in academies 4 and 6, the majorities were non-native.

Some institutions in the city segregated learners based on their religious faith. According to Ball (2017), the origin of existing discrimination can be traced to the church’s founders, whereby some were founded by churches, philanthropic groups, or individuals. The schools fell into groups, with each joining a particular school. For example, private-state funded schools were for aristocrats and rulers, the grade schools had a place with the common laborers, while auxiliary for the working class (Ball, 2017). However, the data indicated no academy with a unique characteristic of learners. Therefore, it is an indication that the equality campaigns must have influenced the schools to change their admission considerations, therefore admitting a few students with a diverse faith.

Demographic factors are equally considered to evaluate the extent of discrimination in schools within a city. Comparing the aggregate population of learners or the number of learners with significant needs in various academies can help determine the levels of segregation between diverse schools. Voluntary-controlled schools are more likely to admit a sheer number of students, unlike community schools (Coldron et al., 2010). West and Hind (2007) state that voluntary controlled institutions are likely to have few poor scholars, loads of productive scholars, and only some students with disabilities. Therefore, schools 1, 3, and 9 are likely to be voluntary-controlled schools, while 12, 7, and 8 might be community academies.

The data on racial composition in academies can be utilised to determine schools’ types, either as oversubscribed and undersubscribed schools. The city schools’ data indicated a population of black/minority ethnic in every school, though at varying percentages. The minority population is likely to be settled in undersubscribed schools since they spare places for the scholars joining that particular area and are characterised by poor academic performance and more students with disabilities (Coldron et al., 2010). Examples of undersubscribed academies from the data include schools 4, 6, 7, and 12. Therefore, discrimination manifests itself where the rich take their children to oversubscribed schools, yet there are spaces in undersubscribed institutions.

Ensuring educational equality in schools

One of the convoluted tasks one would encounter in modern society would be ensuring educational equality in schools. Generally, equity standards can be described as fairness to all (Merry & Arum, 2018). Equity can also be described as handling all people in the same way, though it is hard to agree on different people’s various preferences. For instance, people have divergent individual opinions based on the choice of residence, family, parenting style, peer group, interests, and socialisation (Duncan & Murnane, 2014). Schmidt et al. (2015) describe school systems as backbone of the inequalities. Therefore, the only possible solution would be seeking a conventional way of reducing inequalities.

I propose the nationalisation of all educational institutions from primary to secondary academies to minimise inequalities. According to Merry and Arum (2018), a more efficient solution is withdrawing the bold choice of an academic institution at all levels, and age is implemented as the determinant for institutional placement. A joint admission board responsible for placing students and deciding transfers for students and teachers in schools at all levels should then be formed. Consequently, neither parent nor child would adopt the school to seize the child since that is the admission board’s role. Admissions’ boards have been formed by various universities and worked effectively in reducing inequalities. They can also be applied to bring equality in primary and secondary schools.

During admission in schools, the board would consider a few factors based on the student to make learning impactful. The needs are not based on the environment, but an individual, hence students with common special needs are admitted to a common school for easier teaching (Medina-García et al., 2020). For instance, the board would admit learners with hearing impairments in special academies purely for those learners. Therefore, the government must provide the necessary resources for learners with mental, hearing, visual, and substantial impairments in their specially designed institutions. Educators with the necessary knowledge and skills should also be deployed to instruct those in their schools (Barrett et al., 2019). Establishing special schools designed for learners with specific needs would help minimize inequalities evident in city schools, based on learner’s physical and mental impairment.

In collaboration with other educational planners, the board can also help in minimising the school’s inequalities based on performance, enrolment, race, and location of the school. Parents with the freedom to choose schools for their children are likely to promote inequalities since they consider their financial capabilities and institution performance. Therefore, certain schools would relentlessly be for the rich while others for the poor, some with excellent performance and mediocre performance. The national education planning fraternity should change curricula and assessment systems to make them more inclusive of the wide range of human intelligences (Lynch & Baker, 2005). Therefore, the board would also propose a standard strategy of performance evaluation and motivation of learners and their educators in all the city schools as a step towards achieving educational equality.

The education planning fraternity can work out the inequalities associated with religious faith. Faith based and private institutions tend to consider the religious faith of students before accepting or rejecting application for admission (Nyabuti, 2018). Nationalisation would ensure that the government has authority over private and faith-based institutions, thus can force admission of learners from diverse religious faith. I would propose secularism and getting detached from religious positions as a way of dealing with faith-based inequalities in schools. Flensner (2018) argues that secularism and non-religious positions are neutral ways of bringing diversity in a classroom. Therefore, if secularism and non-religious positions can be nationally encouraged, students would be free to get admitted in any school, unlike the trend in faith schools in the city.

Alternatively, all schools should be prepared to instruct all religious subjects without favouring any religion while undermining others. I would recommend this alternative for safeguarding every learner’s religious interest to avert a conflict between the government and religious leaders (Szoro, 2019). However, it would be a valuable option involving the provision of more teaching and learning materials, and recruiting more educators in every school who have specialised in a particular religious study. Subsequently, setting more infrastructural facilities from where every religious group will be attending lessons. It should also be made clear to learners that no religion is superior to another, irrespective of the number of students in every religious class.

Equitable distribution of learners to diverse schools without considering their family backgrounds would also minimise inequalities. The admissions board would ensure that no academy exceeds an enrolment capacity while others are below it. The admissions board would also act as the government advisor on educational matters and scholars’ educational needs. Child-specific model claims that expanding universal publicly funded schooling will reduce inequality by providing access to more students, whereby low-income families’ children will gain more from that access than will their more advantaged fellows (Raudenbush, 2015). Therefore, the government will have to either withdraw free college meals provided for some learners in the city schools or offer them for all learners to ensure equality in schools.

The government has to invest heavily in institutions to attain a superlative degree of equality and grant free primary and secondary school education or subsidize it. Miller (2008) argues that the government assigns the worst teachers and poor schools to schools with poor children, yet rich children get the best. Nationalising education would ensure that all schools benefit equally from the government. More infrastructures in schools, such as classrooms and dormitories, may need to be constructed (Barrett et al., 2019). Moreover, evaluation techniques should be devised in those institutions that make learners feel inferior to those in other institutions because of performance issues.

Nationalisation of schools would help overcome educational inequalities originating from families, religious groups, local communities, and the government. Standard governing structures should be set within the education department to ensure all academies’ proper control. The school admissions’ board, the curriculum developers, and the examinations council should partner to actualise the academy’s nationalisation plan. The government should also ensure equality in the supply of learning resources to all schools, while teachers’ performance should be monitored well by the ministry. Teacher-transfers can help in standardising performance in institutions. Therefore, nationalising learning institutions would be a crucial measure of attaining equality in schools.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is worth noting that the attainment of social justice and equality in education is not significantly easy in such a dynamic world. However, inequalities in education can be minimized if the government legislates educational laws opposing schools’ discrimination. Having students with common characteristics and abilities in the same academies can remedy these inequalities though they need the government to invest heavily in schools. Joint placement of students can help work out different forms of discrimination such as racial, performance-based, cultural, unique needs of learners, among others, evident in schools.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Education and Social Justice: School Segregation." July 14, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/education-and-social-justice-school-segregation/.

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