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Race and Ethnicity in the US Education System Essay

The United States has a strong history of immigration. As a result it has become a nation composed of different races and different peoples coming from different ethnic backgrounds. This has impacted American society in terms of the economy, the peace and order situation, employment, and the education system. These things are constantly interacting to create opportunities and problems for all US citizens. But in recent decades – in spite of the rhetoric on equal opportunity for all Americans – numerous studies show that minorities are in a disadvantage.

Two major ethnic groups, the African Americans and Hispanics are finding it hard to succeed in a highly competitive world and the root cause why many of them are poor, unemployed and involved in a life of crime is the lack of access to quality education. Background The United States was founded by immigrants coming from Europe. After a few centuries these immigrants had taken over major portions of the United States, that it is no longer proper to call them immigrants. But in recent decades there was a new wave of immigration that swept across America; it was an influx of migrants coming from Asia, Latin America, and Mexico.

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The last two will comprise the second largest minority group in the US – the Hispanics. In May 2006 the US Census Bureau provided the following statistics: Hispanics are the largest subgroup (42. 7 million) roughly half of all the minorities in the US (Sullivan, 2007). Furthermore, according to experts, “The terms ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latino’ are used interchangeably by the U. S. Census Bureau … to identify persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, Dominican, Spanish, and other Hispanic descent; they may be of any race” (Kohler & Lazarin, 2007).

In this paper the terms “Hispanic” and “Latinos” will also be used interchangeably. African Americans on the other hand are also a part of the minority group but they achieve that status via a different route. African Americans did not arrive in America through traditional means of migration. They were forcefully taken from their homeland and sold to American plantation owners as slaves. At any rate, when both African American and Hispanic groups entered America they started from a disadvantageous position and that is why even today they find it hard to experience upward mobility in American society.

In spite of the rhetoric on equality and civil liberties there are many Americans who are living like second-class citizens in their own country. In order to improve the lives of those who belonged to minority groups there is a need for assimilation; an increase in funding in areas where there is a high concentration of African Americans and Hispanics; and to change the mindset of the members of these minority groups so that they will value the importance of education in their lives and the lives of their children.

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