by Adrienne Tate

Education equality is an illusion. Factors such as race and socioeconomic status create a division in aspects of education. There is a clear link between education and race inequity regarding the current education system. More Hispanic and African American students live in low-income areas and attend less-developed schools. The idea that all children in American are given the equal opportunity to achieve an education that equips them to become knowledgeable, socially skilled, and self-reliant is a false reality.

Our Constitution states that everyone has the right to pursue a free public education. The pursuit of education should not be overshadowed by factors that cannot by controlled. The standard of education should be adjusted to fairness across all factors, including race and socioeconomic status. Disregarding district zoning areas, all schools across the state should present their students with the same education materials. Education is a human right that should be attainable for everyone.

According to Teach for America, 16 million American children face the challenge of poverty. Just eight percent of the children who grow up in low-income communities will graduate from college by age 24. An estimated 1.3 million American high school students drop out every year; more than half of these students come from low-income communities.

The question of how to fix this cycle of poverty has not yet  been answered. Programs such as Teach for America, Inner City Teaching Corps, Teaching Fellows, and Urban Prep Fellows Program are structured to assist in closing the gap, but education inequity is still prevalent. These programs hire highly qualified college graduates to teach in low-income areas. Teachers that participate in these programs are given a limited supply of resources and are told to teach students who are several grade levels behind.

How can we change the standard of education to make the achievement gap nonexistent? Is this even possible? With teaching corps programs the achievement gap has been acknowledged. Students are still bound by district zoning lines that will define who they will become. The property taxes from low-income communities can only provide a limited supply of resources. If 80 percent of the community receives government assistance, how many tax dollars are going back to the school district? Not very many. Low-income schools do not get the funds they need to invest in the youth.  Success is determined only by family income and address.

Education inequity is a solvable problem. The value of a child’s education should not be determined by a child’s address or family income.

The beginning step to closing the achievement gap is recognizing that there is a gap in the education system. From there, we can recognize non-profit organizations whose primary focus is education equality and help by donating to their funds. Children from low-income communities need mentors. The constraints of underdeveloped schools may be there, but it does not have to define how we view our world. We can change education in America … not for self-justice, but for our future generations.