chapter  5
42 Pages

Equality of Educational Opportunity?

A Look at Racial and Ethnic Differences and Inequalities

This chapter discusses the process of stratification in education and society, focusing specifically on racial and ethnic inequalities. What is evident in this discussion is that while racial and ethnic gaps in education have narrowed over time, significant and deeply rooted gaps remain. From early years, racial and ethnic inequalities in educational achievement exist. Such gaps have been measured using tools like the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam during elementary school and the standardized test during high school. Many explanations have been offered for these racial and ethnic gaps in education. Considerable research has focused on the role of school funding and resources. Although there is considerable debate on this topic, researchers generally believe that minority students benefit especially when they are exposed to strong teachers and small class sizes. While educational resources cannot be discounted as a macro-level source of these racial and ethnic inequalities, cultural clashes also produce educational disengagement and underachievement.