Failure to get a proper education has significant consequences for everyone, not just uneducated ones. People who lack education have difficulty advancing in life, have inferior health, and are poorer than those with formal education. The following are some of the most severe consequences of a lack of education: bad health, a lack of a voice, a shorter lifespan, unemployment, exploitation, and gender inequity. Developing countries experience difficulties providing quality education to those in need, which forces those eager and thirsty for education to seek it elsewhere (Webb, 2017). Quality education has also been a challenge in developed countries due to racial discrimination, favoring a particular race more than others. In the case of Bridgeport, the community has embarked on a mission through the Village Initiative Project V.I.P. to allow economically burdened students in the area to tour colleges in the area as a means of enabling the students to determine the college they would like to join and also ensure that Black and Latino college admissions are more parallel with their White counterparts. Education has always been critical to the Black community, from desegregating K-12 schools and colleges to running historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2018). Education has long been the key to social mobility and economic independence in this country. Therefore, the paper focuses on the lack of education among the African American community in Bridgeport as a social justice issue, provides an analysis and the scope of the problem, and applies the theories of Critical Race Theory and Conflict Theory to address the racial issues, inequity, and class inequity respectively.
Social Justice Issue
Even though it’s grown increasingly widespread in recent years, the concept of social justice has existed for hundreds of years. Morgan (2018) states that during the 19th century, individuals began to speak out against unsafe working conditions, exploitation, and other unjust practices. At its root, social justice is concerned with the equitable allocation of opportunities and advantages that apply to everyone in a society. One of these problems is that people of different races do not have the same access to education. There are two types of social justice in education. The first is social justice in action and the degree of equity in the school system. Social injustice occurs when circumstances such as money, gender, and race dictate what education a person may obtain. Students who aren’t fortunate enough to acquire education on par with those of their more fortunate peers are set up for failure for the rest of their life (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2018). If they can’t make ends meet, they won’t afford health insurance, decent housing, or feel secure in their surroundings. The second kind of social justice in education is how it is taught in the educational system. Students’ worldviews are broadened under a social justice framework by incorporating diverse ideas and questioning beliefs. Social justice education addresses and encourages students to use critical thinking rather than disregard significant real-world concerns such as sexism, racism, and poverty, amongst other things.
Brief History and Explanation
In the United States, early childhood education is becoming an increasingly crucial part of life, predicting future educational performance and career and labor alternatives, economic stability, health, and social changes. African Americans lag well behind other ethnic groups when matched for socioeconomic status in terms of educational attainment. Asian, White, and Latino kids have higher marks than African American pupils on average. A widening achievement disparity impacts the whole nation, not just African American kids, families, and communities. The accomplishment gap may be traced back to the economic and social situations of the past and present. Racism and discrimination against African Americans have had little influence on society’s attempts to alleviate the negative consequences of prejudice and discrimination (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2018).
To help more children succeed in school and life, instructors must thoroughly understand these elements. Only then can they devise and execute effective techniques. African American youngsters are no different from any other when it comes to children’s potential. The brain circuitry that governs a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development is shaped by encounters with people and things. African American children, on the whole, enjoy excellent adult interactions and grow to their full potential. Racism/classism and its accompanying economic and social disadvantages are the keys to understanding the underachievement of African American youth. African Americans have been subjected to a long history of legal and unlawful discrimination (Webb, 2017). It is undeniable that poverty is a burden on families. A considerable proportion of African Americans live at a level of economic stress that strains families physically and emotionally, with regular corollaries of hunger, mental and physical sickness, and hopelessness.
As a result of a lack of educational preparation, African American students face an insurmountable achievement gap when they enter the classroom. Students’ educational experiences and prospects in Connecticut and many other states are vastly different when seen through the prism of race. African American children are more likely to be impoverished than White children; hence this harms them. A wide range of social, economic, and governance issues arise due to these inequities. To attract firms and investment, one must have a well-educated workforce. Students who get a high-quality education are better equipped to go after the objectives they’ve set for themselves.
Current Nature, Scope, and Impacts of the Problem
African American students in Bridgeport, Connecticut, face several disparities and significant educational gaps, which leaves black students underprepared for future success. A report by Harris & Hussey provided a comparison between two school districts: Fairfield and Bridgeport. Both school districts spend more than the national average on their pupils, which is comparable. They teach their students to take the same statewide exams. As with almost other instructors in the state, their teachers consistently get great honors on evaluations. However, the school districts range significantly in finances and educational quality. Fairfield is mainly made up of white residents, and the white suburbs surrounding it have an average household income of $120,000. 94% of kids complete high school on time because of the financial resources and moral support from family and friends (Morgan, 2018). The graduation percentage in Bridgeport, the state’s most populated and one of its poorest communities, is 63%. As one of their instructors recently testified in a dispute over unequal school financing, fifth graders in Bridgeport — where most residents are black or Hispanic — typically read at the kindergarten level. In the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, Judge Moukawsher of the State Superior Court in Hartford said that the state was letting students in disadvantaged districts stagnate while their wealthy neighbors soared.
According to the judge, education spending in California is governed not by necessity but by the political influence of individual lawmakers. He also slammed the state’s teacher assessment system and stated the state’s high school graduation criteria are almost useless. The consequences of a lack of education are just as serious as the circumstances that prohibit a person from obtaining a high-quality education (Harris & Hussey, 2017).
Those who lack education or have only completed elementary school are more likely to be employed in low-paying positions or to be unable to get a job at all. The best professions are reserved for the well-educated, and education is the primary means of achieving this due to rapid technological development and the dwindling number of conventional occupations. It is the determining element in whether or not an individual can adapt to the changing labor market and find work that suits their skill set. Gender disparity is also a consequence of a lack of educational opportunities (Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2018). The capacity to make personal judgments based on knowledge gained through education is essential for men and women. It is difficult for the uneducated to integrate into society and are often excluded. Because they lack the resources that come with education, they cannot participate in as many social activities as educated individuals, who can do so with ease.
Application of Theoretical Framework
Critical race theory (C.R.T.) is built on the idea of systemic racism, which is the foundation of C.R.T. When discussing systemic racism, the discussion refers to how the government has unfairly targeted people of color in housing, employment, criminal justice, and education. In the United States, racism and white supremacy have been enshrined in legislation, from enslavement through Jim Crow laws to disproportionate incarceration and violence against African-Americans. Families may be impacted for generations even though specific discriminatory laws or practices are no longer in place (Taylor, 2019). Rather than training in diversity and inclusion, C.R.T. is a technique that began in the law academia and has expanded to other academic areas.
Many of C.R.T.’s tenets apply to education, including a commitment to social justice; the centering of the experiential knowledge of people of color; and the use of multiple approaches from a variety of disciplines to analyze racism in historical and contemporary contexts, such as women’s studies, and sociology. As enslaved people were taught to read and write in quiet ports, the movement for equal rights for African Americans started differently. When it comes to access to high-quality, well-resourced schools with competent instructors, metropolitan centers have become battlegrounds in the battle for equality (Taylor, 2019). Segregated schooling is a powerful and contemporary example of institutional racism in education.
Education may benefit significantly from implementing conflict theory, which holds that conflict is the most significant part of human connection. Conflict theory in education focuses on how conflict theory works, especially in educational environments like schools and classrooms. In general, those who are better off financially are more likely to get a higher education and finish it with fewer problems. As a result, conflict theorists argue that tensions arise between these social classes. According to conflict theorists, there is a possibility that conflict in public schools sustains social hierarchies. The hypothesis may be used in education to understand better how pupils in the public school system are impacted by social structure. Identifying the many social groupings, regardless of their financial background, ethnicity, or gender, might lead to hypotheses about the conflict among them (Ferrare & Phillippo, 2021). Because of this hypothesis, researchers may identify and seek to remove the structures that deny underprivileged children equal access to a good education. Children from low-income homes may lack the materials and technology to succeed in school. Their parents and guardians may work long hours, leaving them little time to assist their children with their homework and actively engage in their education.
Description of Local Agency
Bridgeport, CT has initiated a program known as the Village Initiative Project (V.I.P.) aimed at paving the way to a brighter future by exposing the underserved students to college life and preparing them for skills beyond the classroom. The program allows minority students to determine the kind of college they would like to attend and increase the number of minority students who progress to colleges and universities. V.I.P. enjoys the collaboration and support of volunteer counselors who stimulate the desire and maintain the enrollees’ interest in attending college and preparing them for life after high school. V.I.P. seeks to provide opportunities for minority students through social change strategies such as a five-day college tour aimed at benefitting economically burdened students aged 14-18 in Bridgeport. The agency operates both at the micro and macro levels with the help of staff, a collection of alumni from all walks of life, and volunteers.
Analysis of the Agency
V.I.P., since its inception, has been of much help to minority students at Bridgeport, CT, and the nation at large. The program has been able to help many students by enabling them to gain knowledge, foster growth, and expose them to numerous learning opportunities through college tours. The agency is an integral part of the students at Bridgeport and the community because it prepares them for college and prepares them for life.
There are fewer guidance counselors, tutors and psychologists, lower-paid teachers, decrepit school buildings, and larger class sizes in school districts like Bridgeport than in affluent neighborhoods. Connecticut’s public school systems are controlled by local municipalities and supported by local property taxes, resulting in a wide range of disparities. This domino effect occurs in the education system if there is not enough money, resources, and opportunity for pupils. As a result of a shortage of instructors, students in impoverished districts are more likely to have substitutes, have less time to work on computer projects because they must share computers, and are suspended more often. Teachers and guidance counselors would have more time to deal with disobedient pupils in a more affluent neighborhood. Because of this, schools in the region should get enough funding, and pupils should be given equitable access to educational opportunities.
Suggestions/Implications for the Future
As the number of pupils of color increases, segregation will continue to be a problem. There is a need to expand on current plans, build an even better system of voluntary interdistrict transfers, and ensure that any transfers do not deepen racial and ethnic segregation. It is time for Connecticut to loosen its limit on magnet schools. A charter school shall be subject to the state’s diversity rules and standards, including objectives, recruiting tactics, public information, and transportation policies that promote diversity, including various linguistic backgrounds. The emphasis should be on allowing more racially and economically separated children to attend schools with higher success levels and better ratings from the state department of education, which are more likely to include white and Asian students as pupils in their student body (Webb, 2017). To avoid further segregation and promote integrated education, the public must be aware of the issue. Nonwhite civil rights and community groups should analyze current trends and engage in the political and community processes connected to school boundary modifications, school site choices, and other significant policies that affect school integration or segregation. School boards can either promote integration or fight against it, and it is up to the communities to give unwavering and outspoken support for this cause.
The educational experiences of African-American and other “minority” kids in the United States remain significantly segregated and unequal, notwithstanding rhetoric about equality in the country. Very few Americans know that our educational system is one of the most unequal in the industrialized world and that pupils from various socioeconomic backgrounds are often given vastly different learning chances. Studies reveal that schools with large numbers of low-income and “minority” pupils have lower instructional resources within these districts than other schools in the district, in addition to financing systems allocating less money to disadvantaged urban areas. It has taken Bridgeport, CT, a long time to go through significant racial transition, but that shift is well underway. Race and economic segregation are substantial issues in the school district. Young people’s well-being and society depend on a solid education system. Everyone has the opportunity to develop and succeed in their careers and positively impact the community if they are given equitable access to education. With the Village Initiative Project (V.I.P.), Bridgeport hopes to level the playing field for minority students by exposing them to real-world experiences outside of the classroom, providing low-cost tours of college campuses, and providing a variety of additional benefits.
Entwisle, D., Alexander, K., & Olson, L. (2018). Children, schools, and inequality. New York: Routledge.
Ferrare, J., & Phillippo, K. (2021). Conflict Theory, Extended: A Framework for Understanding Contemporary Struggles Over Education Policy. Educational Policy.
Harris, E., & Hussey, K. (2017). In Connecticut, a Wealth Gap Divides Neighboring Schools (Published 2016). Nytimes.com. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/12/nyregion/in-connecticut-a-wealth-gap-divides-neighboring-schools.html.
Morgan, H. (2018). What every educator needs to know about America’s homeless students. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 91(6), 215-221.
Taylor, E. (2019). Critical race theory and interest convergence in the desegregation of higher education. In Race is… race isn’t. Abingdon: Routledge.
Webb, L. (2017). Educational opportunity for all: Reducing intradistrict funding disparities. NYUL Rev, 92, 2169.