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A significant social problem that individuals face is educational racism or inequality. Even today, in 2018, our country views individuals based on their skin color and puts them in a box of “will they succeed or not”? Or even will they graduate from high school? Will they attend college? And all these questions are based on race. One definition of education is “an enlightening experience”. But there are some pretty major differences with our education system and those who thrive in this system and those who do not.
Our country faces this social issue of educational racism between white and minority students. Even with all the changes that have been made throughout our educational history, we still have a blatant issue within our educational system.
The United States has a harsh history of segregation in the schools. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education, this was an instrumental turning point in starting the process of equal opportunity for all children in school. Although many areas of the United States were slow to make the changes the Court ruled on, this was a powerful moment in the history of our education.
It took until 1958 with Congress’ passage of civil rights legislation that the South finally make the transition from segregation to being an integrated region. There have been many other situations where small successes have happened due to individuals fighting for the equality of all students, no matter their race.
There are significant differences in educational achievement between minority students and white students. Standardized test scores are one major difference.
There is even belief that the achievement that is being seen, or the results of the testing, is due to genetics, culture or a disinterest in learning. This is a major concern and not factual. Our educational system is very unequal toward minority children v. white children. Minority children have fewer opportunities for extracurricular activities, and important educational resources are lacking in schools. Curriculum tends to be of lower quality, as well as those schools have teachers who may not be as skilled as white privileged schools. And throw in the fact that if students are not successful or achieving in the manner of test scores, it must be their issue.
The blame is put on the child and not the school. This social problem continues with very little change because the educational system is still treated in an unequal manner due to lower class, or minority students who attend certain schools. White privileged schools receive more financial aid, better curriculum for their students, higher paid and more qualified teachers, funds for extracurricular activities, and nicer buildings and sports arenas. Inner city students who are mostly minority students do not have the same opportunities to engage their students to stay involved or even to stay in school to graduate. Imagine a rundown school, broken pieces of sidewalk, the paint on the building is faded, maybe even a few windows are boarded up.
The basketball court is cement with cracks in it, the hoops are old, metal hoops that have seen better days. Classroom sizes are large, and a few rooms in this school building are shared by multiple classes. That may seem unreal, but it is not. There are actually schools in our country that are like this. And our system continues to treat our children like that worn-down school building. And that is a major social problem! Our educational system is telling these children they do not matter, and they are not worth pouring money and effort into. This lack of care is an unspoken message that these children receive and start to believe. Our country is full of smart, yes, even well-educated individuals who seem to disregard the lack of care in our education system and its impact on the children of minorities.
Low-income and minority students do not receive the proper financial funding through the state government or local government. These are the schools that are in need of the most financial help, and yet, they receive the least amount of money. There seems to be a great need for universities to revisit their role in accepting students based on race and financial gain. Most students of minority parents seek financial assistance. And the percentage is low for these students who then continue on into college, and those students who go right into the workforce after high school. There is value in teaching students the importance of a job that will earn them a decent income, benefits, and other important factors to build their lives. Most are not able to attend college due to the financial struggles their parents face.
As Christians, I believe one of our roles is to speak for those who are not able to speak for themselves. That does not mean to take over, but we can learn about the issues in our country, build relationships with those in our community, and speak up and become creative in finding ways to support all individuals in the educational system. Christians can be used as tools for others. Leading by example in how we interact with others; even how we speak about individuals in our community. Loving others is vital.
Billy Graham was talking about racism in the church when he said, “Look, we’re all equal before God, we’re all one together and every man has his right for the rights that we enjoy and want.” But this quote speaks of the truth that God asks of us as believers. Every man has his right to a great education. We are encouraged to love other people and to put them before our own needs. Jesus tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus also gives us the parable of the good Samaritan, a person from a hated race, and again, reminds us to love all people. What I liked about what Billy Graham was sharing was that it is up to us, as Christian’s, to be that example of God’s love to others. He shares that it is God who will be the driving force behind the healing of people, and that is what the church does. That same concept can be applied to the social problem of educational racism or inequality.
As Christians, we have the highest power on our side, God. We can be a voice for change. We can speak up for a better education for all, no matter their race. We can be the driving force of love and concern to the families that can’t be due to their own circumstances. “For Christ, himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.” Ephesians 2:14-15 What a sweet reminder that HE broke down the wall of hostility that separates us!
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