Evaluating Educational Inequality along Racial Lines


The United States enjoys racial diversity since its population comprises of people from diverse cultural backgrounds concerning gender, class, race, and ethnicity. This diversity requires some analysis so as to expose the inequities existing in the American society. Unfortunately, the inequities emanating from cultural diversity among the Americans result in prejudice that discriminates some races and other minority groups against enjoying educational opportunities. The society discriminates children on racial lines making them believe that that the whites are superior to other groups in the population. The explanation of the conflict or cultural bias and functionalist or cultural deprivation theories reveals the role and causes of these inequities in education systems, but as a teacher, I have a huge role to help mitigate segregation in education.

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Two Differing Theories on the Role of Education

The American education system can be viewed from a functionalist or a cultural perspective. According to Farley, the view of the American education system is considered a critical source of upward mobility. The functionalist perspective or cultural deprivation theory claims that education gives people an opportunity to make progress in life or gain social mobility. This view offer every person the chance to move up in the society and how far a person moves is determined by his or her motivation and ability. The good thing with education is that it gives people the tools to function in the society and the level of their usage determines the success in climbing the social classes.

Based on the cultural deprivation theory, education is the key to success. Farley explains that the basis of this theory is that education channels out highly skilled and qualified workers, which rewards them with high incomes and rewards. Such a thing shows that the more educated and the harder a person works, the better the achievements in their work and the society as a whole. This traditionalist theory gives education an analogous importance to success meaning that those who face negative discrimination in the acquisition of education achieve little in their lives, especially in enhancing social mobility. This theory perpetuates and institutionalizes education inequalities in the American world.

On the other hand, the conflict theory shows that education preserves discrimination because it mainly benefits the dominant groups in the society. The theory aligns with Karl Marxs view that education is one of the ways through which dominant groups can continue benefiting from societal inequality. Studies have shown that the overall impact of the system of education in America is to preserve inequality but not to eliminate or reduce it. Such assertions prove to be a reality since both the economic and education status have similar patterns among different races and ethnic groups. Therefore, education allows the rich, who are mainly whites to go to better schools that register higher academic performance while the poor who are predominantly blacks and other minorities to receive a subpar education.

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Funding Plays and Educational Inequality

Inequalities in education are reflected in the social classes of the neighborhoods. Conflict theorists assert that property taxes are the primary sources of school finances. Such a thing shows that children who live in impoverished areas are likely to attend schools that are inadequately funded to acquire adequate educational resources. The reason for such is that taxes collected from these poor areas are smaller than those collected from the rich neighborhoods. Historically, schools in which the majority of the students are Hispanic, Indian Americans, or blacks have been underfunded compared to those in which whites are a majority. That is because schools receive funding from the taxes collected from the property in their surroundings.

Findings have shown that it is true schools in poor neighborhoods that have people from diverse cultures receive inadequate funding. In the late 1980s, cities that had minority populations registered significant differences in the amounts of funding. For instance, Farley reports that Detroit spends at most $4000 per student, a figure that is lower than $6000 per student, which the nearby wealthy suburbs spend. Such a thing affects not only the behavior in seeking education but also the education outcomes. Coleman also reports that along with funding, students from minority groups by many factors within the education system that include school programs, level of education and training of teachers, school facilities, and the number of students per class. Therefore, funding, culture and behavioral factors affect minority education.

Cultural Diversity and the Role of Teachers

In this chapter, I have learned many things. First, Americans enjoy cultural diversity concerning race, ethnicity, gender and class. Such a thing reveals that this region has many people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds who belong to different social classes. Unfortunately, these cultural variations are used to discriminate some minority groups in the education system and benefit the majority populations. The whites are the major beneficiaries since they are the majority compared to colored people such as the whites and Latinos. For instance, better schools are a preserve from the majority whites because of their socioeconomic status while the underfunded inadequately equipped schools are for the minorities, who are mainly the people of color. As a result, the inequities will persist in the future as long as this trend continues. These inequalities can be improved through offering equal funding for all schools regardless of their location of the type of students and educating the students to appreciate cultural diversity as a strength for the country but not as a factor for discrimination.

As a future teacher, I have a role in inspiring children from poor homes who go to underfunded schools. First, I will encourage my students to accept that they are not lesser than any other person of different race. I will inspire them to work hard because social class is about getting beer education to gain financial empowerment, rather than focusing on the race as the problem. Also, I will encourage them to appreciate and interact with peers from different races in learning. Farley explains that intergroup education provides knowledge that helps break irrational prejudices and incorrect stereotypes. Such a thing will motivate them to learn and achieve academic excellence without considering their race as a disadvantage. Finally, I will offer them multicultural education for them to appreciate human diversity and their cultural values and heritage.

Anti-Racist Tool

In the future classroom, I will implement an anti-racist tool that will increase the level of understanding about racial discrimination and the importance to eliminate it. Tools that promote intergroup interaction are essential in improving desegregation Student Teams-Achievement Divisions (STAD) will be used in which I will present a lesson to my students who will study the worksheets in four teams. After this, they will take quizzes and the team scores will be computed. The computation will be based on the degree of which every student has improved over the past records. This tool increases the intergroup relationship among students of diverse cultural background.

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The education system is perceived to propagate the existing racial and ethnic discrimination. The functionalist view asserts that education is essential for social mobility. However, the conflict theory argues that education will keep benefiting the majority at the expense of minority groups. School funding increases institutional discrimination since schools in impoverished neighborhoods are underfunded, which gives the dominant American whites an opportunity to achieve better education outcomes since their schools are adequately funded. As a teacher, I will inspire students from underfunded schools to appreciate their heritage and focus on achieving better rather than seeing themselves as victims of racial discrimination. In the future class, I will use the STAD to enhance intergroup interaction among students to help mitigate racial prejudice.

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