Equality of Educational Opportunities in the United States Education has an immense impact on the human society. The quality of human resource of a nation is easily judged by the number of literate population living in it. This is to say that education is a must if a nation aspires to achieve growth and development and more importantly sustain it. In today’s world, the role of education has become even more vital. It is an absolute necessity for economic and social development, and the single most important predictor of good jobs and high income at the individual level. In the United States, the Department of Education aims to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring educational equity. Educational equity is a federally mandated right of all students to have equal access to classes, facilities, educational programs, curriculum, instruction materials, assessment and evaluation materials no matter what their national origin, race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, first language, or other distinguishing characteristic. The public schooling is often regarded as “the great equalizer” in the American society. For many years, American students supposedly have had an equal opportunity to master the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Therefore, it is assumed that any student who works hard would have the chance to go as far as his or her talents and abilities allow, regardless of family origin or socioeconomic status. “This assumption regarding opportunity and emphasis on individual talent and effort seems to be natural offshoot of the rugged individualism and self-reliance that are so much part of the fabled American character.” (Schmidt, Cogan, Huoang, 2009) Furthermore, the idea of equality of opportunity is often seen as providing the opportunities to learn without reference to the outcomes. It does not require any particular level of achievement for all students. It is also consistent with wide inequalities in outcomes between students from different social backgrounds. Students are given the opportunity to find success and if they fail to take up these opportunities it is attributed to their lack of talent or motivation. Those who do not succeed are judged to be not capable of succeeding. As a result, the concept equality of opportunity in education as flawed and unjust. Although free universal public education was adopted early in U.S. history, equal opportunity has never been established. Public schools have been primarily financed by local taxes and controlled by the ruling classes of local communities. These two features of American education: local financing and local control of schools, which initially established and continue to maintain inequality in American education. There is an unequal distribution of wealth, which is directly related to inequalities in education beginning at early education. Historically speaking, public education is filled with segregation, bias, and inequalities for the minorities and poor. In the South, laws mandated that schools be segregated into black and white. In the North there were no segregation laws, but school officials deliberately drew up districts with the intent of segregation. This segregation resulted in inferior education for blacks and minorities simply because their school districts were less funded. By 1980 the federal courts were successful in eliminating the system of segregation in the south, and mandated that the school districts in the north be redrawn to include minorities in order to make education equal between districts. And in 2002, President Bush, in an attempt to reform and strengthen our educational system, passed the “No child left behind” act. This reform aimed at identifying poorly performing public schools by testing students in grades three through eight annually in reading and math. The reform focused on achievement...
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