8. Social and Economic Inequalities: Education. Learning Intentions (Pupils should be able to): Provide evidence of inequality in terms of education in US society. Explain the causes of educational inequality in the US.
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From earlier studies you will remember that the US is not an equal society. Within the US education system there are also clear inequalities between minority groups and the majority White population. In this section of the course we shall first provide evidence of educational inequality before going on to attempt to explain why educational inequalities exist.
Causes of educational inequality
In an equal world there would be no difference in educational attainment between the different minority ethnic groups. However, statistics show that Whites and Asians consistently outperform Hispanics and Blacks in terms of educational attainment. Why?
1. Impact of poor neighbourhoods
A significant minority of Blacks and Hispanics live in poor areas. These areas are characterised by poor housing, unemployment, dysfunctional families, crime and drugs. Children brought up in these areas are less likely to value education or go to school hence educational attainment levels are low.
Asian American educational success
Unlike Blacks and Hispanics, most Asian Americans do well out of the US education system. Evidence shows that Asians tend to have higher educational attainment than the White majority, although this hides the fact that some Asian groups do better than others. For example, Japanese and Korean Americans, where education is valued, families stable and incomes high, do best. These groups can afford to send their children to the best schools where they often excel (Asians make up 5% of US population but 10% of undergraduates.)
On the other hand, many Vietnamese and Cambodians, who are on average poorer than other Asian American groups, do very poorly in terms of education.