Skip to content

Educational Disparity: 7 Causes And Surprisingly Money Is Not One

Did you know that the U.S. spends more on K-12 education than most other countries, but amazingly it does not result in any better educational outcomes? Specifically, this article will provide you with examples of the current state of educational disparity in the U.S., and what are the 7 key factors that are driving educational inequality.

Does Allocating More Tax Dollars To Education Solve the Problem of Disparity?

Educational Disparity: Ruby Bridges - No One is Stopping My Education
Ruby Bridges – No One Is Stopping My Education

The short-answer is no, money does not solve the problem of disparity in education outcomes. To clarify, allocating more funds for education probably won’t do any harm, but it’s not the only answer. Further, our education system is more than a classroom and a teacher provided by the government. Namely, there are other sources of learning that include the home, the community, and social groups. So money is only part of the solution to education equality.  To detail, see below for 4 reasons to conclude it is not just money that is needed to solve educational disparity.

1. U.S. Spends More on Education And The Average Outcome Is Lower.

In 2014 the U.S. spent $16,269 per student vs. the global average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) countries was $10,759. In the same time period, the average U.S. student was almost a year behind the average OECD student in math. Further, U.S. students were 3.5 years behind the average student in Singapore. For specifics click here.

2. U.S. Spends More and Still There Is Significant Disparity of Educational Outcomes.

If you look at high school graduation rates for different ethnic groups, there is a wide disparity. Indeed, this disparity in educational outcomes has been a well known problem. However, many solutions have been applied with little success.  Paradoxically, U.S. spends more on education than other countries, and there are still significant disparities in high school graduation rates by ethnic groups as listed below.

  • 69 % of Black students
  • 73 % of Hispanic students
  • 86 % of Caucasian students
  • 88 % of Asian students

click here for more details on disparities.

3. U.S. Spends More and Still There Is a Lack of Equal Access to College-Ready Curriculums.

Studies show that African American students are less likely than white students to have access to college-ready courses. For example, one study in 2011-12 concluded that only 57 percent of black students have access to a full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness. Whereas compare this to 81 percent for Asian American students and 71 percent for white students

4. U.S. Spends More With Little to Show For It – Is This Because Of Government Incompetence or a Political Corruption Problem?

You would think local, state, and federal governments would be a major factor in addressing educational disparities. However, there is a lot of evidence that many other countries have better educational outcomes. Hence, there appears to be a need to address government incompetence and political corruption. Certainly, logic would dictate that we should have better overall educational outcomes for K-12, if we are spending more than other countries. Summing up, throwing more money at an organization that is either incompetent or corrupt, is not a good solution.

7 Causes, If Overcomed, Would Improve Educational Disparity in America.

You can gauge educational disparity in two different ways. The first is to evaluate the allocation of resources. The second way is to assess the educational outcomes of different social groups. Nevertheless, even if we accurately measure educational inequality, this does not solve the issue of education inequality. Indeed, it only helps to identify the problem. Thus, what we need to consider are the factors that impact the real educational inequality. Specifically, these factors can be classified as follows:

1. Effective Government Policies.

Governments can pool resources to assure equal opportunities, quality curriculums, and quality teachers. Also, they can enact policies to encourage fairness, and measure outcomes In terms of educational disparity. Additionally, governments can assure quality school facilities, access to technology and other educational resources.

2. Quality Teachers.

Good teachers are the most effective method to achieve a great education. Good, well-qualified teachers can overcome disparities in student achievement by providing a personalized learning experience and engaging in rigorous instruction. Teachers that are absent continually or that are uncertified as teachers do not contribute as well to the educational attainment of their students.

3. Supportive Community Environment.

Studies have shown that high-poverty schools spend nearly 10 fewer days every year providing academic classes vs at low-poverty schools. Additionally, high-poverty schools were more likely to have academic instructional time eroded by classroom lockdowns and other interruptions. In less supportive communities, teachers and counselors spend a lot of their student-teacher time on economic and social stressors than on teaching. Additionally, violence-prone and drug-affected communities are not conducive to good teaching and learning.

4. Parent’s Economic Status.

If a family has a higher economic status, they can make available more resources to educate their children. Indeed, higher income parents can pay more taxes to support their local public school or send their children to a private school. Additionally, if a student is suffering from hunger, unstable housing, and lacks access to medical care, this will affect a student’s learning environment as well.

5. Parent’s Academic Success.

There is a major correlation between the academic success of parents and the academic success of their children. Only 11% of children from the bottom fifth earn a college degree while 80% of the top fifth earn one (click here  for more information).

6. Parenting Style and Choices.

If a parent does not appreciate or is not nurturing in regard to educating their children, this will result in educational disparity. Sometimes there are social customs that can affect education. For example, a parent who does not believe that their female children should have a higher education. Another example of a parent choice is believing that children need to be working instead of learning. 

7. Bias Toward a Student’s Ethnicity, Gender, Or Social Status. 

Teachers just like all humans have biases. Studies have shown that educators can hold “slight” pro-white/anti-Black implicit bias (click here for details). 

For more information on educational disparities see the following: Around Robin’s Educational Inequality in America: Race and Gender,  Brookings Institute’s Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education,  UCLA Blueprint’s Unequal Schools, Generations of Poverty, Wikipedia’s Educational Inequality, UNCF’s 12 Disparity Facts and Statistics.

For more informative stories from Unvarnished Facts, see our articles on bias, learning, and culture.

Don’t miss the tips from Unvarnished Facts!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.