Race and Education in the USA

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Education is taught on the basis of race. In modern time, schools have gone through profound changes compared to the schools in the 1800’s or 1900’s. To illustrate this point, an analyzation on history in terms of race is appropriate. If we look at the 1860`s, the ending of the Civil War brought about the ratification of the 13th Amendment which freed all slaves. This gave some hope to the black community, where they felt that they will be able to do what they want, without anyone having to control them.  But were they truly given freedom even after they were freed by the law?

The Supreme Court Case in 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, created a greater separation between societies. The government had no issues as long as whites and blacks were “separate but equal” in racial equality. In 1954, “Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that separates schools for black and whites are ‘inherently equal’, schools were integrated to a degree unknown in the nation’s history”( Karaim 2014). Black and whites were not given equal opportunities. Blacks were treated unequal due to their skin color. It was not until 1964, when the Civil Rights Act “ended segregation in public places and banned employment based on race, color, sex, national origin”(Black History). According to Wolters (2008), in the book Race and Education, he argues that the Brown v. Board of Education decided that African-Americans shall be separate from the whites whether that is in restaurants, buses, hospitals, stores and even schools. With this in mind, I argue that, the development of inequality, segregation and racism causes discrimination against populations of black students in American schools. Historically speaking, before 1954, schools were separated by race. Plessy v Ferguson was a Supreme Court case that established “separate but equal” which later led to another well-known court case, Brown v. Board of Education.

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As stated by Thomas J. Billitteri, a CQ Researcher writer, “in 1892 blacks in New Orleans challenged a law that required railroads to provide ‘separate but equal’ accommodation for the whites and colored, race”. Black and whites had different routes for their destinations. They were not allowed to be seen together. Furthermore, in June of 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a car of an East Louisiana Railroad that was designated for use by white patrons. Although, Plessy was born a free person, he was 1/8 black and 7/8 white under Louisiana law enacted in 1890.  Plessy refused to leave the white car, so he was arrested and jailed. The Supreme Court upheld the right of Louisiana to have done so in the Supreme Court’s decision of Plessy v Ferguson. According to the laws made, even in public everyone had to follow the decisions of Plessy v Ferguson. Railroads under the doctrine of separate but equal, was not to be overturned until 1954. In 1954, under the Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decided that segregation of schools based on skin color went against the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.  In the book, The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools, the author Mendez Brown, discusses the story of a girl named Linda Brown. Linda Brown was a third grade elementary student in the town of Topeka, Kansas. She had to leave the house to go to school that was miles upon miles away.

She was prohibited to go to the school near her house which was six blocks away. She would walk six blocks from her house, board a bus that would take her friends and her to another school located miles away from her house. Why? That was because of the color of their skin. This was in 1951, when young African-American students were being denied the opportunity to attend school with their Caucasian neighbors, friends from the streets and etc. Segregated schools made black children feel inferior and damage their development.  At this point, we question ourselves that could the equal guaranteed by the 14th Amendment in jeopardy? Furthermore, equality and equity are one of the many ways to spread fairness around the people that you are with. To better understand, we first must extinguish the differences between equality and equity. Everyone that benefits from the same support means that they are being treated equally. On the other hand, an individual that is treated with a different support system so that they can have equal access to education means that they are being treated equitably. For example, according to Bowman Ryan, the Civil Rights Projects at UCLA, which helps renew the Civil Rights movement, “nationally, the average black or Latino students now attend schools with a substantial majority of children in poverty, double the level in schools of white and Asian”. This is an example of equity. Black and Latino students were not given many opportunities in the schools that they attended because of their socioeconomic status. At some point, Black and Latino students got access to education but not in the similar manner as white and Asian students.

To illustrate this point, Mendez further explains how discrimination is shown in schools between different races. As stated by Mendez, “intentional discrimination may be imputed to a school or school district if the motivations of the educator enforcing the discipline code for racial in nature” (Ryan 1997). If the educator teaches without looking at which racial group the student belongs to then students also get motivated to learn.  He further explains that, “inequality remains the country’s biggest albatross. With the Civil Rights Act of 1964….we can support educators with the technical assistance and training that they need to nurture all children” (Ryan 1997). With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, students now can be taught by teachers who are well trained in their subject of course, but also in their interaction with other people. At this point in time, laws began to form for the betterment of the student`s future. Schools have isolated students by different groups racially. This may lead to students not learning in the same manner as other students or getting taught the same knowledge as others. When students lose their interest, than parents get involved to talk with school facilities to learn the reasons behind why their children are not receiving an equal education.

For instance, one of the court cases called Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007), was about how parents of non-minority students sued the Seattle and Jefferson County school districts, claiming that the student assignment plans denied their children the equal protection of law under the fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution. Based on the data, “Jefferson County required each student to seek black enrollment of at least 15% and no more than 50 %”( Ryan 1997). The court affirmed that maintaining racially diverse schools and preventing the harm racial isolation causes have gained government interest. To clarify, when parents are involved according to Mendez it “limits the ability of school systems to adopt voluntary desegregation plans. When parents are involved it reinforces and provides an excuse for what school boards do not want to do anyway” (Ryan 1997). If the parents of minority children get involved in schools then most likely their children will be protected from segregation and racism. But in modern times, we still see that American students do not experience equal rights to education in schools across the United States. Currently, black students are expelled at three time the rate of white students. According to the 2017 Brown Center Report on American Education, which is about race and school suspensions mainly between African American and Hispanics.

The report stated that “African-Americans stand out as disproportionately receiving suspensions” (Loveless 2017). I believe that this cause may be the cause of parenting skills. White and Asian children might be pressured by their parents to do well in school whereas black parents might not be better invested or are not paying much attention on their children. According to Loveless’s study of school suspensions, Chart 1 entitled “Suspensions rates in California, by ethnicity (2013-2015)” shows that in 2013 there was “a rate of 0.235 which means that for every 1,000 black students enrolled in California schools, black students received 235 out-of-school suspensions. That rate dropped to 0.178 in 2015, a decrease of 24.3%” (Loveless 2017). As time went on, more and more black students began to perform poorly in schools, which led to suspensions or even worse. To add on, usually students that are suspended are typically monitored by facility members. For example, Loveless points out that suspensions in schools, “which send misbehaving students to a supervised “time-out” spot on campus, are less exclusionary than-and normally considered an alternative to out of school suspensions” (Loveless 2017). Students who have a record of being suspended, get watched over by school facilities in order to keep them on track.

Loveless further explains that “black students who attend racially isolated schools are more likely to experience lower academic achievement, exposure to gangs, and disruptions during classroom instructions” (Loveless, 2017).  I believe that this is true because if black students see that they are not being taught like other students, they start to feel left out and feel that they are not being treated right. This makes them walk on the wrong path for example, joining gangs, misbehaving with people, performing criminal activities and etc. at young age when they really should be in school and getting the education that they need. To conclude, I argue that U.S schools need to teach in a way that students of all race can get the proper education. Students should not have to face discrimination, desegregation, inequality and racism in schools. The case Brown v Board of Education helped rip racism, discrimination, and desegregation to pieces. It gave opportunity to students as well as minorities to get the same and equal education as whites.

Many experts believe that the conditions facing education might be changing. According to Penn State`s Frankenberg, “If we really want to desegregate our schools, we need to make desegregation a more essential issue and not peripheral” (Karaim 2014). She also says that “but we also need to think about desegregating other parts of our society”(Karaim 2014). Segregation in schools can end only if the societies as a whole cooperate together to demolish its facets. For example, most of the societies are labeled as “redlining” (The House We Live In). Redlining wasn’t giving something to whites but rather was a way to construct whiteness. To end these norms governments created rules and regulation in order to protect people’s rights and liberties. I personally believe that all citizens no matter which country they are a part of, should all receive equal opportunity to education no matter what race or class they may belong to. Society should also help communities that are not financially stable so that they can offer more to school and organizations around them.

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Race and Education in the USA. (2022, Jan 11). Retrieved from


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