Racial Inequality And Segregation Effects On Education

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. History of Inequality
  3. Racial Inequality Impact on Education
  4. School Segregation and Academic Gap
  5. School-Based Racial Discrimination
  6. Why is it still an issue?
  7. Conclusion


The issue of racism had been discussed and seen through institutions throughout the years. Some of these include, schools, the media, entertainment and more currently in social media platforms. Racism is defined by philosophers as the belief that human beings are biologically divided into different races. Even though many people would like to believe it is no longer an issue, this is simply not the case. The fact there is still evident racial inequalities in the 21st century goes to show the magnitude of the problem. The school systems have faced a lot of this problem firsthand. Students in minority schools continue struggle while students in white schools continue to excel (Noguera 2017). Racial inequality is a problem that needs to be addressed particularly in the United States, as we see it very often. African American and Hispanics face a higher possibility of not attaining the same level of education as white kids. Racial inequality is a serious issue that needs more attention. Although many administrations and legislators have attempted to deter this problem it has not proven effective. Due to underlying issues such as economic and social disparities make it challenging. Racial inequality rather than decrease and subside, has increased and gotten worse than before.

According to data collected by the Civil Rights data collection, between 2015 and 2016, more than 96,000 minority schools were facing investigations due to racial inequality. The white students from these elementary schools face less harsh punishments compared to black and Hispanic students (Noguera, 2017). Controlling racial inequality, which is a national issue, would help to improve the academic performance of children in schools.

The research involved detailed reviews of different scholarly articles that gave an insight into how racial inequality in minority schools affect the education of students. The article used to draw a connection between racial inequality, academic performance, and economic inequality.

The research conducted detailed the impact racial inequality has on the education students receive in minority schools. The articles drew connections between racial inequality and economic and social classes on the academic performance of students. (Quintana & Mahgoub 2016). Segregation of minority schools and lack of funding from the government increases the chances of poor performance among African American students and Hispanic students. The environment lived by the different students also contribute to the academic gap seen between African American students, Hispanic students, and white students. Minority kids in schools have less educational resources because of their social economic status and a long history of inequality.

History of Inequality

The United States has a long and dark history when it comes to racial disparities. Institutional level of racism in educational institutions is a current issue in different countries. The issues, however, began early in the 1960s when the civil rights movement tried to confront institutional racism (Houkamau & Sibley, 2015). Segregation of Schools, churches, courts, and parks was according to race. The white privileges seen in their instructions include well-guarded compounds, while institutions involving people of color we abandoned and less developed. The issue is still a problem in this decade as white-dominated institutions such as schools receive more funding compared to minority schools. The difference in the institutions does not give a fairground for healthy competition among the students (Houkamau & Sibley, 2015). Research conducted in recent years indicate instances of institutional abandonment due to racial inequality.

As earlier mentioned, schools dominated by whites receive funding even during difficult times. The government is confident about the institutions and would, therefore, fund any project. If there is a perception that black students are increasing in schools, the government loses confidence with the institution and, therefore, cuts the budget. If other institutions such as courts do not intervene, the institutions are left to collapse as students suffer. Black and Hispanic school systems have experienced similar issues, while white-dominated schools with fewer students are left to prosper. Despite the economic development and prosperity, especially in developed countries, issues of funding minority schools are still debated. We would think that multiculturalism and diversity have helped to eliminate racism, but that is not the case. Bowser argues that the issue of racism began back when slavery was part of the culture of many nations. The origin of individual racism was as a result of social racism against people of color (Houkamau & Sibley, 2015). There exists a relationship between cultural racism, institutional racism, and individual racism.

Racial Inequality Impact on Education

Research indicates that teachers, especially in elementary schools, are biased, depending on the religion, social class, or race of the students. The difference in behavior demonstrated by teacher's results in racial disparities, seen in how students behave around one another (Warikoo et al., 2016). Research done by Tenenbaum and Ruck (2017) indicated that teachers tend to be more vigorous while addressing African American and Hispanic students, compared to how they address white students. White students are considered braver and smarter compared to students of color. Appiah, a philosopher, claims that extrinsic racism is what brings about ethnic issues in our societies. He explains that extrinsic racism occurs when an individual believes that all individuals of a race share an inherited characteristic.

An extrinsic racist believes that some people, based on their race, are more intelligent, more industrious, kind, smart, courageous, and trustworthy than people from other races. Unfortunately, students in elementary schools observe these differences and begin to question the issue of racism at a very tender age. Traumatizing incidents, such as bullying, may affect the mental health of the affected student. Most public elementary schools are dominated by people of color and are often neglected or are under poor conditions. Poverty levels increased drastically during the Great Recisson of 2008 and because of it, the percentage of children coming from families in poverty went up to 22% (Putnam 2015). Now, approximately 52% of students come from low income families, the highest percentage recorded by The National Center for Education (Noguera, 2017).

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School Segregation and Academic Gap

Research conducted by Reardon (2016) indicates the effects of segregation on the academic performance of students. Segregation in elementary schools causes a huge academic gap between the privileged white and the less privileged Black and Hispanic students. It was evident that segregation and inequality is a major known issue that affects academic performance. As the economic gap increases between different social classes, racial inequality also increases (Reardon, 2016). Lack of funding from the local and national governments has also resulted in more incidences of racial inequality. Civil rights groups reported the challenges that the minority have in accessing educational facilities (Noguera, 2017). The difference in academic performance between the minority schools and free schools is accounted for by a lack of concern from the national government. In areas where African American students and Hispanic students live, they are less developed, which affects their academic performance.

Underfunding is a significant issue that the government should address. According to Kochhar & Fry (2014), there is a close relationship between racial inequality, economic inequality, and academic performance. Most of the immigrants living in the United States are forced to attend public schools due to the low income earned (Noguera, 2017). Overcrowding in the schools makes it hard for the management team to accommodate all students adequately. Despite the increase in students in public schools, funding from the government it still limited. Unfortunately, the white-dominated schools with fewer students receive more money, which is used to develop new facilities, resulting in better academic performance. Racism in segregated schools affects not only the students but the morale of the teachers (Reardon, 2016).

Coleman researched in the United States following complaints of school segregation. The findings from the research were alarming. More than 90% of the black students attended educational institutions that were dominated by blacks, while 90-100% of white students attended white-dominated educational institutions (Quintana & Mahgoub, 2016). The academic gap between these institutions was a significant concern. The performance in the minority schools was lower compared to white-dominated schools. The facilities used in the minority schools were poorly maintained and were fewer compared to those in other communities. The research by Coleman also indicated the adverse effects of socioeconomic inequality, which contributed to segregation in the schools.

Segregation in school systems, for example, leads to racial gaps since the quality of education and racial composition are positively correlated. As earlier discussed, there is a vast difference between schools dominated Whites and those dominated by Black and Hispanic students. Residential segregation, which is the environment where children live, also impacts their academic performances (Quintana & Mahgoub, 2016). Research indicates that most black students in elementary schools come from an insecure neighborhood, which makes it more difficult for them to study. The white students mainly come from the suburbs and can study in their homes. The difference between the two environments affects academic performance. There is a connection between social economic status and achievement gaps (Quintana & Mahgoub, 2016). Segregation in schools also affects the turnover of teachers. It is challenging to attract and retain highly qualified teachers in minority schools because of the low salaries. Insecurity in residential segregation also affects the turnover of teachers, thus, affecting the academic performance of students.

School-Based Racial Discrimination

The most affected individuals in school-based racial discrimination are mainly African American students. Byrd (2015) Those students affected by racial disparities in schools resulted with low self-esteem issues and poor performance (Banerjee et al., 2018). African American students move from one school to another, increasing the chances of unfairness and discrimination based on their race. According to Benner and Graham (2013), there is an association between racial discrimination in elementary school and discrimination from teachers and peers. To understand how these racial disparities, continue to prevail in society, techniques such as Implicit Association Tests are used to show the perception and prejudice of people based on their race. Explicit attitudes are the beliefs about a race and can often be expressed in writing or during oral communication (Warikoo et al., 2016). Implicit attitudes, on the other hand, are involuntary actions, mainly as a result of prejudice. Teachers often display implicit attitudes when addressing students of color. Adverse effects of implicit attitudes towards students of color affect their ability to learn as other white students (Warikoo et al., 2016). Students that are bullied often become insecure about themselves and unsafe in schools. Children that face such kinds of discrimination develop psychological problems that may affect them in the present and future. Discrimination from teachers and peers’ results in a lack of concentration in class, resulting in poor academic performance. Research done by Medvedeva (2010) found that immigrant elementary students who have been discriminated against develop poor communication skills and learn slowly compared to other students (Banerjee et al., 2018).

Why is it still an issue?

The critical race theory, popularized by Kimberle Crenshaw and Derrick empathized that despite the civil rights movements, the lives of colored people had not improved. The theory notes that racism is embedded into American society. Race continues to be a subject matter on a global scale, and racism continues to affect the people of the color adversely (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2016). Given its history of slave, race, and racism, the United States has often been used and singled out for analysis using this theory. Some sociologists and philosophers today argue that the issue and instances of racism have decreased in recent years compared to how it was in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The theory explains the marginalization and segregation of different institutions, including educational institutions. Educational policies have often affected people of color negatively (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2016). According to Delgado, the tenets of critical theory are essential due to the educational system of the United States.


The issue of racial inequality in minority schools significantly affects the academic performance of students in elementary. Other contributing factors, such as socioeconomic inequality, also affect students who are African American or Hispanic. Addressing the segregation of schools is vital as it affects the education of students. Racism at the institutional level has increased in recent years. Students are no longer treated in the same way at schools. Educational institutions where the majority are whites are likely to receive more funding and prioritized as opposed to those who have students who are African American. The white communities have better facilities compared to people of color. Racism has many negative impacts, on various aspects of society.

Institutional racism has been essential in facilitating the increase of white dominance and white privilege. Institutional racism is responsible for the reinforcement of both cultural and individual racism. Racial discrimination has often resulted in mental health issues. Children who have experienced discrimination lose their confidence and are often sad, which may lead to depression. Such children have a low concentration in class, which often results in low performance.

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