Causality of the Racial Educational Achievement Gap

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Causality of the Racial Educational Achievement Gap

Noe Gonzalez
WRC 1023
Ellen Walroth
18 February 2010
Causality of the Racial Educational Achievement Gap
Research shows that on average, there is an educational gap between different ethnicities. This gap is called the racial educational achievement gap and is often looked at as the difference in education between black, hispanic, and white students. Even though this gap is not true in all situations, it is a big enough problem that several organizations have taken extensive research to find out exactly what causes the racial achievement gap. Pinpointing the cause however is difficult because many factors contribute to the racial achievement gap. The more outstanding of these factors include poverty, the students environment, and family involvement.

Before anyone can start reversing the racial achievement gap we must first define the causes in detail. From common knowledge everyone knows that money fuels education by building schools, buying better teaching equipment, and creating a higher teacher to student ratio. Unfortunately, many minorities live in poverty and cannot afford these commodities. One example to consider would be the George Washington Community School, with a large percentage of minorities

the school serves 874 students in grades seven through 12, and almost 90 percent of them qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2008). Before George Washington Community school was founded, the school they took the place of maintained a very low 30 percent graduation rate (2008). Other schools of low income minorities show similar educational achievement gaps. Even with poverty stricken minority communities like the one George Washington Community school is in, there are ways to shorten the racial achievement gap. One such way is by creating out of school activities to encourage students to learn and stay in school. This along with the help of the community have changed the the graduation rate greatly. From 30 percent before George Washington Community school was established to 70 percent in 2007 (2008). The environment students grow up in influence the student education. If the students environment is negative towards education, like it is for many minorities, then it will discourage the student to learn. An example of a hostile environment would be Harlem, a community with a high crime rate. Education suffers in Harlem when students risk there lives to gunfire every time they walk to school. However, even Harlem has hope to decrease the racial achievement gap. The Harlem Children’s Zone, with its high percentage of black students, has decreased this gap greatly by changing the students environment to suite a learning environment. Their results are nothing more of miraculous when considering this statistic

The typical student before entering the Harlem Children’s Zone middle school was outscoring only about 20 percent of New York City’s white students in math, but after three years in the charter, was outscoring 45 percent of white students (Robelen, E. 2009). The family a student is brought up by is a another cause for the racial education achievement gap. Family plays important roles in a students life because students are thought to learn at a young age by families. If a parent strives to create a desire to learn for a child at a young age he or she will continue that into school. Because this relationship is crucial to closing the racial educational achievement gap, many schools with a high minority rate encourage family oriented programs. More than half of the students in the San Diego district are minorities. To decrease the racial achievement gap one may target the families of minorities like Casey did by investing

$800,000 over four years to support a district-lead effort to foster parent engagement to improve communication between parents and schools (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2008)....
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