White Students in the U.S. Have the Greatest Opportunity

In the United States, modest discipline practices, rigorous classes, and the teachers with more experience are often saved for white students, Education Department data tells us.

The U.S. Department of Education surveyed 99 percent of the nation’s public schools about the level of opportunity offered to students. The survey is conducted every other year and gathers data about students’ access to teachers, classes, and trends in school discipline.  The 2013-2014 data from the latest survey collected data on additional issues such as student absenteeism.

The results of the survey showed education inequalities based on students’ skin color and if he or she had a disability. White students in our nation have the greatest opportunity.

U.S. Secretary of Education, John King Jr., said that students of color, those whose first language isn’t English, and those who have disabilities do not get the same opportunities as their peers who are white, who speak English as their first language, or who do not have disabilities. This is according to a number of indicators.

Starting around preschool, students of color receive stricter punishments than their white counterparts. The disparity was reported first from the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data, finding that 18 percent of preschool children were black, yet represented just under half the children receiving at least one suspension from school. There has been little change since then — the 2013-2014 data showed that black students are 3.6 times more likely to receive a suspension than their peers who are white.

Other findings showed that not all students are placed in classrooms with experienced teachers. Students of color receive disproportionately harsh discipline rates, and have less exposure to teachers with experience and advanced courses.

Nine percent of Latino students and eleven percent of black students attend schools where more than a fifth of the teachers are first-year educators, while just 5 percent of their white counterparts are in classrooms taught by first-year teachers.

In addition, the survey reports that Latino and black students are less likely to go to schools where advanced science and mathematics courses are available to students.

I hope that our nation can see the need for changes and will work more diligently to make the drawing board level for all students. The country is suffering and the education gap will never close if we continue to give a higher level of opportunity to students who are white, speak English as their first language, and do not have disabilities.

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