How teachers and lawmakers can combat disparities in the United States education system


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work


Early and Elementary Education


Citation of Original Publication



According to the Census Bureau, in 2004 nearly one fifth of the United States K-12 students lived in poverty and experienced disadvantages in the quality of their education compared to students living in affluent and suburban school districts (Jacob, 2007, p. 130). As an English Secondary Education intern placed in a school system with students of low socioeconomic status, I constantly see the negative effects of poverty in urban school settings, and sought to research the national relationship between race, socioeconomic status and education quality for my honors thesis. This paper examines how race and socioeconomic status determine the educational value of a student and what resources the student receives, how to bridge the gaps in education, and what actions are still needed to resolve the deep-set issue of unequal education for students across the United States. Through my research I have found that achievement and opportunity gaps are prevalent issues in the United States education system that are consistently perpetuated by the placement of lower qualified teachers and lack of funding to urban and high poverty schools, which creates a detrimental learning environment for minority and low socioeconomic students (Darling-Hammond, 1998, p. 30). Implications of my research show that programs such as Teach for America strive to alleviate gaps in the system by placing highly knowledgeable graduates into classrooms, but programs such as these can be improved upon to increase teachers’ pedagogical and cultural awareness. Further, large scale adjustments to the education system with incentives to attract and retain teachers may not be a reasonable solution, but equalizing education spending and increasing the teaching standards may be a suitable option to combat the hierarchical and unequal education experience for students from poor and minority populations.