Structural Forces Impacting Equity





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The current situation in the public school system is unsatisfactory. There are numerous structural problems observed in this field. First, members of minority groups face additional challenges and have lower opportunities for their development. The achievement gap between Whites and African Americans continues to increase. Second, broader social and economic factors create problems in this context. As the incomes of African American families are lower, they cannot provide their children with the proper number of opportunities for self-realization. Third, the public school system does not create the proper mechanism for maximizing the motivation and productivity among teachers. Currently, they are not often oriented to the needs of children. The achievement gap tends to emerge from the early childhood as the early childhood education does not create equal conditions for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or social status. In general, the existing problems should be addressed in a complex way to balance the interests of all groups involved.

Summarization of Forces

First of all, it is reasonable to provide the brief summary of those factors that affect the equity index in schools. The current situation demonstrates that students’ achievements are distributed non-randomly, while a significant racial bias is present. In particular, the achievements of White Americans are systematically higher than those of African Americans (Carey, 2014). It means that the former have higher opportunities, and the current public schools system is mostly oriented to their needs (Heitin, 2014). The problems with teachers’ motivation show that they are not interested in demonstrating the highest possible results and addressing the educational needs of all their students. Early childhood education is not aimed at creating equal conditions for students and facilitating their development. On the contrary, students are placed in unequal conditions from the very beginning, and the public school system encourages the existence of the current achievement gap.

The government does not contribute to the process of solving this problem through creating the efficient system of economic and social relations (Rothstein, 2004). On the contrary, the current situation in the public school system reflects the general set of problems observed in other spheres of the national economy. Although the US economy is well-developed, the produced goods and services are distributed highly unequally. The largest proportion of them is controlled by White Americans and the members of upper classes (Jeynes, 2014). As a result, people with high incomes receive even higher amounts of resources and can further increase their financial well-being and prosperity (Carey, 2014). At the same time, disadvantaged groups do not receive any compensation. As a result, their children cannot enjoy the optimal educational environment as well as lack the proper motivation for learning.

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Explication of Forces

It is especially important to examine the forces in relation to the Atlanta public schools experience. The Atlanta environment is characterized by a high diversity of the population. Due to the fact that the proportion of African Americans is high, the absence of the proper solution may cause large-scale social conflicts. The general trend toward difficult economic and social conditions faced by minority groups is also observed in Atlanta. African American students lack proper motivation as the current system is not open to the provision of adequate benefits for the most talented students, regardless of their origin and race, among others (Heitin, 2014). The problem is that teachers are mostly oriented to the formal assessment of their results rather than satisfaction of students’ educational needs and contribution to their intellectual development.

One of the indicators of the current unsatisfactory situation in this field is the Atlanta public schools (APS) cheating scandal investigated in 2009-2011 (Freeman, 2014). It was determined that a large number of teachers were involved in the conscious misrepresentation of students’ results through intervening in the assessment of the standardized test scores. In fact, almost 80% of APS participated in these unfair practices (Freeman, 2014). It clearly shows that both students and teachers were interested in this misrepresentation, although they realized that it contradicted the foundation principles of justice in education. Taking into account that this case is unique for the entire country, it proves that the situation in Atlanta public school system is even more difficult than that in other regions of the country.

It is worth noting that both teachers and students are focused on creating the favorable image of their work in the eyes of controlling agencies rather than increasing the actual level of knowledge. As a result, it leads to the lack of motivation and goal-orientation among all stakeholders. Apparently, this situation creates numerous threats to proper social development as the growing number of people considers that cheating is an appropriate means of achieving their objectives. If this tendency is not mitigated, the substantial disparity between objective social needs and students’ actual knowledge will emerge (Heitin, 2014). Thus, if they are unable to solve real problems, the entire Atlanta region may become less competitive in the long run.

The substantial improvement in early childhood education is necessary as it creates the basis for further development of fair educational principles. Hereby, any obstacles to equity should be avoided. APS should be better integrated into the national educational environment. In fact, tougher competition may encourage the implementation of new technologies and innovations in the education sphere. Finally, the close controlling and monitoring mechanisms will contribute to higher responsibility of all parties involved. It is reasonable to examine the dynamics of both objective parameters (such as test scores) and subjective ones (students’ perceptions of their education environment through interviews). In this regard, it will be possible to understand the objective situation and make the necessary adjustments if they are necessary.


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