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Racism and Schools

Author: D. E. Campbell
Source: Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Students of different ethnic groups (Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans) learn to read at dramatically different rates in our schools.
The ethnic group you belong to makes a substantial difference in school achievement. Mexican Americans leave school at a higher rate than other Hispanics, and Hispanics drop out at a higher rate than do non-Hispanic Whites (Ramirez & de la Cruz, 2003). There has been a dramatic increase in the rate of segregation of Black and Latino students from White students in the nation’s public schools ...view middle of the document...

Later the decision was overturned by a higher court.
In 2006, the Chicago school district was required to make a list of its failing schools (as now required by new federal law). In Chicago, 365 out of 596 schools, and predominantly African American and Latino schools, were on the list. A 2007 report by the Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access at the University of California at Los Angeles described how California’s schools in low-income and heavily Latino and Black areas are significantly more overcrowded, have more substitute teachers, have fewer prepared math teachers, and lack college preparation courses in comparison to similar schools in mostly White areas (Oakes & Rogers, 2007).
If you were a parent of school children in New York, Chicago, or California, would you have confidence that your children were being treated fairly? How do you think such a consistent pattern of underfunding and school failure develops across the nation?
For over 40 years, Jonathan Kozol has been describing the severe inequality of opportunity in many public schools. In 1991, he described school conditions that would never be accepted in adequately funded European American schools:
The school is 29% black, 70% Hispanic.... We sit and talk in the nurse’s room. The window is broken. There are two holes in the ceiling. About a quarter of the ceiling has been patched and covered with a plastic garbage bag.
“Will these children ever get what white kids in the suburbs take for granted? I don’t think so,” says the principal. “If you ask me why, I’d have to speak of race and social class. I don’t think that the powers that be in New York City understand, or want to understand, that if they do not give these children a sufficient education to lead healthy, productive lives, we will be their victims later on. We’ll pay the price someday—in violence, in economic costs.” (p. 89)
Several years later he visited a number of schools for his book The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America (2005). He describes some schools in New York:
I had also made a number of visits to a high school where a stream of water flowed down the main stairwells on a rainy afternoon and where green fungus molds were growing in the office where the students went to counseling. A large blue barrel was positioned to collect the rain-water coming through the ceiling. In one make-shift elementary...

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