8. Social and Economic Inequalities: Education
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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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8. Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

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8 social and economic inequalities education

8. Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

  • Learning Intentions (Pupils should be able to):

  • Provide evidence ofinequality in terms of education in US society.

  • Explain the causes of educational inequality in the US.

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.


8 social and economic inequalities education

Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

  • In 2010 in terms of graduating from high school or achieving a Bachelor’s degree:

  • Hispanics (42%) and Blacks (58%) have the least percentage of high school graduates.

  • Whites (81%) have the most high school graduates, with Asians (32%) having the highest percentage of Bachelor degrees.


8 social and economic inequalities education

Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

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.


8 social and economic inequalities education

Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

  • 2. ‘Poor Schools’ attended by many B+H have:

  • Problems attracting and retaining suitably qualified teachers and so classes go untaught.

  • A lack resources for equipment such as computers. School buildings may require extensive repairs. Often schools with the best results get the most funding.

  • More disruptive and disaffected students making it harder for education to take place.

  • Also, many Americans with money send their children to expensive but high attaining private schools.

  • Don’t stereotype: Within the Hispanic group Cuban Americans, who tend to be wealthier, often do better than Mexican or Puerto Ricans in terms of educational success.


8 social and economic inequalities education

Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

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.


8 social and economic inequalities education

Social and Economic Inequalities: Education

  • Questions

  • Provide three pieces of evidence of educational inequality between minority ethnic groups and the majority White population in the USA. Use also your textbook or handout.

  • Look at slide 2. “There are more Asians with Bachelor degrees than Whites. Overall, Blacks do worst out of US education.” Martyn Evans. To what extent is Martyn selective in his use of facts

  • 3. Give two reasons why Blacks and Hispanics are less likely to achieve in the US education system than Whites.

  • 4. Why do many Asians do well out of the education system?

  • Reading: Pulse: ‘International Issues’ pages 62-75 or Leckie and Leckie: ‘Course Notes’ pages 234-240.


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