Education is often seen as an equalizer, providing opportunities for the youth of all races to make the most of their talents. Therefore, it is deeply concerning those disparities for Black, Latinx, NHPI, and AIAN (American Indian, Indigenous, American Native) youth across equity indicators continue to persist. These disparities underscore the need for holistic interventions – both academic and non-academic – that reduce learning barriers.
Since the beginning of our nation, education has been used as a tool to suppress Blacks voting, social mobility, and access to fundamental human rights and resources. After Brown V. Board of Education, federal courts desegregated local school districts with hopes of ending racial discrimination in schools. Decades later, students of color attend de facto segregated schools that are under-resourced and over-policed. Looking into the future (i.e., once 2020 data is available), we would not be surprised if there is a greater need for access to early childhood education because many programs have had to stop operating because of the pandemic or children were unable to attend.
Advocates throughout the state are pushing for access to high-quality resources, curriculum, facilities, and well-trained teachers for all students. Eliminating educational disparities will require progress on issues like school discipline by implementing restorative justice practices, such as making schools safe and welcoming for all students. Another way to eliminate disparities in education is by providing school districts with adequate funding and adopting equity-based budget approaches that direct extra support to the school sites with the greatest number of high-need students. There is also a growing movement to remove police from schools and replace them with more counselors, social workers, and peer support specialists better to serve the youth of color, especially low-income students.
Individuals with high school degrees are more likely be employed, earn higher incomes, and avoid entering the criminal justice system.