Equal Opportunity in Education Essay

Equal Opportunity in Education Jessica Deighan Grand Canyon University EDU-215 November 14, 2010 Equal Opportunity in Education The education system in the United States has not always looked the way it does today and it was not that long ago when children of different races or sex could even go to the same schools as each other. Yet through many strides done by educational activists the United States government continues to stand by its intention to try to free our schools of racial, sexual, religious and monetary discriminations.

This is an ongoing struggle that will need to continue to be fought however to be sure no child is truly left behind or slips through the cracks. The United States first monumental step toward taking discrimination out of the public education system was when the Supreme Court desegregated the country’s public schools from the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. For almost a century preceding this case, the United States Education system had been dominated by racial segregation.

This was endorsed in 1896 by the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which stated that as long as separate facilities for separate races were “equal,” then segregation didn’t violate the 14th Amendment (Lutz, 2005). During the Brown v. Board case the Supreme Court had to pay special attention to whether the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause prohibited the operation of separate public schools for whites and blacks.

Another case similar to this was Mendez v. Westminster School District in 1946 where five Mexican-American families sued the Orange County School District claiming that their own children, along with thousands of other “Mexican” children of were being forced into segregated schools for Mexicans. In this case the judge ruled in favor of the five families and found that segregated schools were in direct of denial of equal protection and unconstitutional.

In 1965 The United States made another push to try and provide help to the cause of keeping discrimination out of our schools and keep equal opportunity in by instating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with primary focus on the Title 1 act. Title 1’s main purpose was to ensure “fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments” for all children (ED.

GOV, Title 1). They were able to do this by providing funding for professional enrichment programs, teaching training, curriculum and instructional materials. It was designed to try and meet the educational needs of low income poverty struck children in schools with highest-poverty levels as well as a high ESL community, special needs program, native American population and children of special interest while trying to close the gap between these children and ones in a non-low poverty school.

Title IX was written into effect on June 23, 1972 and is lawfully written as “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance”( United States Code Section 20).. Although Title IX is mostly known for its impact on high school and collegiate sports, it actually covers all academic activities.

Title IX has been known to cause recent controversy where some people claimed that due to the Title X schools were caused to spend less money on men’s sports such as men’s swimming or wrestling because of the shared cost the schools now must have with women’s sports programs. Despite the controversy Title X increased the ability for the development of women’s sports in a time when females were not seen as equals and was the doorway for women’s professional sports such as the Women’s National Basketball Association.

The school system then saw changes come in the part of accountability and monitoring with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 by President George Bush. This Act was developed to assess the basic skills given to all students in certain grades for those states receiving federal funding for their schools. The NCLB was not made to set a national standard however each individual state is responsible for developing its own standard. Along with setting its own individual standards it has its own accountability and placements are made to safe fall those children seen not meeting these assessments.

If a child is found to be falling behind 2 years in a row then tutoring or a change in school placement to a better suited school is available. However the original No Child Left Behind Act met a wall of opposition. Many teachers and parents felt that teaching a student the requirements to pass a test would result in often teachers staying away from unique styles of teaching which is one of not only the amazing joys of teaching but how some students learn best.

Having a lack of creativity in the classroom or curriculum will leave a teacher feeling they no longer have the freedom to reach students on the individual level that is so important to a child who may be struggling to begin with. Some people believe that students who are raised in a conventional teaching environment that lacks any inventive learning on top of the constant practicing of standardized testing may have a lasting effect on a child’s capability to be self-motivated or use out of the box methods to achieve success.

When President Obama took office he made it part of his mission to fix the NCLB and in March 2010 he sent a blueprint for the new Act to Congress. The blueprint would first start by replacing the pass-fail school grading system and switch to one that measured individual academic growth. The state would not base a school judgment off of test scores alone but also on attendance, graduation rates and the learning environment.

The new NCLB also asked for more vigorous interventions for the students who were found to be failing or schools found to be struggling in hopes to truly be sure there were no children being left behind and at the same time encouraging a new goal that all students should graduate ready with every necessary skill to succeed in college and careers (Duncan, 2010). I believe that we have several safe plates in place currently for racial discrimination and sexual discrimination yet I believe that in our current society we have new forms of discrimination arising.

In an ever changing society the sexual preferences of children are becoming more then just heterosexual relationships, and as a teacher you may have to deal with discrimination towards a child who is a lesbian or a homosexual. These are very sensitive issues and must be delicately touched upon. This is being addressed in most schools by the implication of the “Zero Tolerance policy” which is the ability for a school to automatically and severely punish a student for a variety of infractions and can result anywhere from detention to expulsion or suspension (American Psychologist, 2009).

I think that a combination of this policy as well as sensitivity training to the different life styles is something that should be implemented to children of all ages. However this policy must be used correctly and not abused. These children will grow up and learn the behaviors that they do today are okay to do tomorrow if they are not taught the correct ways early.

References: Post Brown vs. the Board of Education: The Effects of the End of Court-Ordered Desegregation written by Lutz, Byron F in the Federal Reserve System. 58 pp. located at http://library. cu. edu:2048/login? url=http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED505598&site=ehost-live&scope=site Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession written by Duncan, Arne in Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v75 n5 p13-22 Jan 2010. 10 pp. located at http://library. gcu. edu:2048/login? url=http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ873639&site=ehost-live&scope=site Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? An Evidentiary Review and Recommendations found in American Psychologist, v63 n9 p852-862 Dec 2008. 11 pp. located at http://library. gcu. edu:2048/login? url=http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ824556&site=ehost-live&scope=site http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mendez_v. _Westminster http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Brown_v. _Board_of_Education http://www2. ed. gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg1. html http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Title_IX