Positive change can only occur after recognizing and understanding a problem. As an educator, children’s advocate, and the current Ambassador for Orange County’s 4th District, Paulette Chaffee often addresses the subject of inequality in education. In many states, there is widespread support for creating equality in education. In this article, Paulette Chaffee analyzes everything surrounding the issue, from the impact of educational inequality to the factors that drive it.
What Creates Inequality?
One of the most significant contributing factors to various social issues is inequality in education. Factors that create educational inequality result in some students having access to resources while others do not. These factors include a school’s financial backing, availability of books and technologies, and exposure to quality tutors.
The Growing Achievement Gap
Inequality in education is not a new discussion – the issue has been growing over the past fifty years. Since the 1970s, wealth and income inequality in the United States has only grown. This gap also affects education and is clearly seen when comparing test scores between students from different socio-economic backgrounds.
In the 1980s, the inequality gap became more prominent when skills in math and reading were compared between students from the wealthiest ten percent and students from the poorest ten percent. On an 800-point SAT-type scale, there was a ninety-point gap between the two groups’ skill levels. That gap has expanded to one hundred and twenty-five points when recorded in 2010. In terms of economic differences, students from wealthier backgrounds have more resources available for educational advances because of both time and money. In 2015, Roland G. Fryer Jr., a Harvard economist, said the minority, forty-four percent, of students in America were competent in math and reading.
Inequality in education can also be influenced by students’ home environments when parents do not positively contribute to a child’s education. In addition, students who struggle from childhood post-traumatic stress disorder without the funds to hire or access teachers, therapists, and tutors can easily fall behind in educational development.
What are Possible Solutions?
Though various challenges make it difficult for low-income students to take advantage of consistent experiences or opportunities revolving around high-quality learning and available resources, possible solutions exist that can help close the achievement gap.
For example, The Harvard Gazette highlights possible solutions, including early educational development, data-driven instruction, access to small-group tutoring, longer school days in a year, and fostering safer neighborhoods.
Reducing inequality in education in America also involves changes and growth in the home. Prioritizing more meals eaten as a family, teaching respect for school rules, setting high expectations, and reinforcing learning after school are ways families can help be the change that the nation’s education system desperately needs.
About Paulette Chaffee
Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education. Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.