Politics, Moderate



Money can't buy an end to systemic racism in education

Esther J. Cepeda on

And, of course, this effect is magnified depending on race or ethnicity.

Black (51%) and Latino (46%) 10th graders with math scores in the top half of test takers are rewarded for their effort and persistence by being more likely to earn a college degree within 10 years than their peers with math scores in the bottom half, but they're still less likely to earn a college degree than white (62%) or Asian (69%) 10th graders with math scores in the top half.

"To succeed in America, it's better to be born rich than smart," said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of CEW and lead author of the report, in a press release.

It's hard for teachers to navigate the public-school teaching industrial complex in search of meaning. No matter how poorly or well they educate their students, the well-to-do kids are going to fall up into the comfort their families can provide and the low-income students will struggle to find a future.

If that's the case, then we might be looking at the issue of equity in education the wrong way.

Never mind desegregating schools -- you can have majority-Latino and African American schools with incredibly high academic achievement. They get that way with money -- which can buy excellent teachers, resources for parents, extracurriculars for students and cash for going on college visits and granting loan-free higher education.

The only thing money can't buy, however, is the end to systemic racism and inequality.


You could pour cash into the excellent education of every Hispanic and black child in America and they'd still get left behind by a system that preferentially values whites' long-standing wealth and far-reaching social capital.

Until we recognize and address that disparity, money will be an inadequate method of boosting students of color -- the fastest-growing portion of our population.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com, or follow her on Twitter: @estherjcepeda.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group



Social Connections


Steve Breen Paul Szep Bill Bramhall John Branch Chip Bok Jeff Danziger