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Racial Inequality Within the Education Field

Given recent events, I have been debating whether to discuss my thoughts and feelings toward racial inequality. After seeing our beautiful students coming back to our center this week, I realize that it is time for me to speak out on this growing issue.

There are many statistics that prove that the more math you know, the more likely you are to finish college and earn a higher salary. It seems easy, right? WRONG!

In 2012, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) conducted a research study on disparity facts and statistics, concluding that students of color are more likely to have:

  • Limited access to advanced courses and college-ready programs
  • Inexperienced or novice teachers 
  • Teachers who place lower expectations on them
  • More discipline concerns and less instructional time

The list of disparities goes on.

It should come as no surprise that a 2015 study by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reported only 7% of Black students scoring at or above proficiency in math courses compared to 32% of white students.

When I was obtaining my Master’s in New York City, NY, I witnessed these disparities first-hand. As a junior teacher, I remember having to bring my own math teaching resources because the school did not have enough for all of the students in the class. Moreover, I spoke to several math teachers, primarily trained as art or gym teachers, who taught math because the school could not maintain a qualified math teacher. I also recall speaking with students working full-time to support their families who were housing-insecure and worried about their next meal. I understood why learning algebra was not a priority when compared to the more immediate challenges they had to face. It troubles me that today there are disparities that still exist everywhere, especially in education. 

Our team will do our part in lifting our students to a world where their opportunities are limitless and they will be able to lead and work towards a more equitable future for all. My team and I have had the privilege to work in several charter and public Baltimore city schools in partnership with Morgan State University (MSU), a wonderful Historically Black College University (HBCU) where one of our founding tutors, Ken Wyatts, is currently a senior math major. Our work includes designing small group stations focused on helping students with their learning and introduce real-world examples of how math can be helpful to their future. In 2020-2021, we are excited to be a continued partner with MSU supporting Baltimore City high school students preparing for colleges and chosen trades. 

There is a lot of work to be done especially in the math learning space and while the journey is difficult, data shows that finding a solution for bridging racial inequality in education – especially in math – is well worth the effort.

Sources:

https://www.renaissance.com/2018/03/22/blog-math-milestones-critical-role-math-achievement-student-success/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00131946.2017.1369414

https://uncf.org/pages/k-12-disparity-facts-and-stats

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