Inequity in the US Education System


Individuals that go through preschool education are more prepared for primary and secondary school and are more successful in their studies and have more opportunities to get a college diploma than their counterparts. Young people that graduate from college or university have higher incomes than their peers without diplomas. The relative increase in income for college graduates is a market signal for children to stay in school. However, not all children are able to accomplish this task because of issues related to inequity in the US education system. After receiving their high school diplomas, many individuals are not ready for college because they did not have access to preschool and quality primary and secondary education. The majority of the poorly prepared freshmen who start college take on the financial burden of tuition fees but end up dropping out without receiving the financial benefits of a degree. This paper will discuss the factors that contribute to such inequalities and potential solutions to address the issue.

Origins of the Issue

Inequity in education is comprised of unequal access to quality materials and educational opportunities. This disparity is a result of a combination of numerous factors and has been present since the beginning of the US education system (Noguera, 2017). While race-based inequalities are often discussed in the context of the pre-Civil Rights Movement eras, they are still present today. For instance, there is a significant gap between how white students score on standardized tests and the performance of individuals of color (Noguera, 2017). Some people believe that this difference is caused by the attitude and culture of black and Hispanic students. However, researchers have claimed that the issue’s origins are rooted in how educational opportunities are distributed within society (Noguera, 2017). In most cases, people with higher socioeconomic status are more privileged.


The race is a significant contributor to inequity in education. The course material has a substantial impact on the self-esteem and performance of students. For instance, racial minorities have been underrepresented in the history curriculum, which has impacted how students of color perform at school (Noguera, 2017). The contribution of race is also evident from the fact that there are significantly more African Americans in the school-to-prison pipeline than whites.

Socioeconomic status (SES) is also essential – children from families with high SES are more likely to receive quality education than others. SES is significant in two contexts – financial resources and the environment in which a child grows. Parents with financial difficulties cannot afford quality education for their children because they are not able to provide young students with necessary school materials and books (Noguera, 2017). They also live in neighborhoods that are further away from schools with a favorable amount of funding (Noguera, 2017). In terms of environmental influence, parents with lower SES are less likely to emphasize the importance of education, which is why children from such families often do not perceive literacy as a valuable asset.

Disparities based on race and SES exist primarily because of inadequate policies regarding the education system in the US. Schools are funded based on the financial capabilities of districts rather than being financed from a central entity. It means that wealthier school districts spend more and are able to recruit more competent teachers and construct curricula of higher quality (Noguera, 2017). The dominant view, however, is that student performance is based on the attitude of individuals rather than being a systemic issue (Noguera, 2017). Therefore, solving the issues related to inequity in the education system should start by acknowledging that such issues exist.

Early Education

Laying a solid foundation is vital for achieving more favorable performance levels in later education stages. Therefore, it is essential for the system to ensure that all pre-school children receive quality content and support. However, many young students struggle with the inequitable nature of the current US education system. These disparities during kindergarten years facilitate the performance inequality gap during school (García & Weiss, 2015). It is essential to know which groups are marginalized in order to develop related policies.

Current scientific evidence suggests that different factors make varying contributions to children’s performance in kindergarten. SES has been found to be linked to reading and math skills. Children that grew up in poverty often lack proper reading and numeracy skills necessary to succeed in school (García & Weiss, 2015). Math and reading levels increase as SES grows up, indicating a direct connection (García & Weiss, 2015). Individuals in the highest SES group score the best in reading and math tests, while children from families with lower SES receive significantly weaker scores.

While there is a connection between race and SES levels, it cannot be said that race influences children’s learning capacity. However, race does affect how teachers perceive their students’ social and other noncognitive skills (García & Weiss, 2015). There is a significant difference in how parents assess how their children perform in terms of social interactions and how teachers grade them (García & Weiss, 2015). Currently, the available evidence is not enough to make clear conclusions, but the differences in perceptions may indicate the presence of prejudice or the inefficacy of evaluation guidelines.

Potential Solutions

Nation-wide policy changes should be introduced in order to address the issues related to disparities in education. School funding should be central, meaning that all schools in the country should receive money based on the number of children they support and not according to which districts they reside. The government must ensure that individuals studying in kindergarten score equally well, and no significant gaps exist. The role of teachers is significant in this context, and therefore, they should be competent. To address this topic, the government may need to make changes in how teachers are trained and prepared. When it is impossible for a child to attend a pre-school program due to geography or other concerns, online education can serve as a substitute. However, online courses should be developed according to a rigorous plan and be specifically tailored to young learners.

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García, E., & Weiss, E. (2015). Early education gaps by social class and race start U.S. children on unequal footing. Economic Policy Institute. Web.

Noguera, P. A. (2017). Introduction to “racial inequality and education: Patterns and prospects for the future”. The Educational Forum, 81(2), 129-135. Routledge.

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