The system of education is a system case study

Sample Paper
Dr. Nakagoshi; LBS 3600-01
Paper 1
It is easy to see where a specific ideology can shape a subject like history because history
is written by the “winner”, but the system of education is a system that has the ability to
disadvantage anyone it wants. Science is seen as an absolute, but western science paradigms are
built on white supremacy and survival of the fittest is still taught. Grammar and standard English
are taught in a way that disciplines those who don’t abide by strict rules. The production of
ideology, specifically American nationalism and white supremacy, influences education,
negatively impacting impoverished students and students of color. Using the United States
Department of Education’s Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups in
2016, I will follow the long term effects poverty has on students of color and impoverished
students. I will then look at the funding differences between schools where the majority of
students are white and where the majority are students of color. Finally I will dissect the subject
of history and how its teaching reinforces white supremacy and its ideology.
Economic stability is necessary for the success of students and without it, students are
more likely to be thrown into a cycle of low school performance that is passed down through
generations. According to U.S. Department of Education’s findings in Status and Trends in the
Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups, “Research suggests that living in poverty during early
childhood is associated with lower than average academic performance that begins in
kindergarten and extends through high school, leading to lower than average rates of school
completion” (20). Ideology is a tricky thing because it feeds and reaffirms itself. The American
dream is that if you work hard enough, you can have anything you’d ever want. However, money
is necessary for that dream to come true and education is one of the first stepping stones to
money. If students are less likely to perform well in school making it less likely for them to
finish due to poverty, then they are also less likely to be able to escape poverty. It is also more
likely that those who do not face those same barriers, or do escape, believe that the systems are
not the root of the problem, but that the individual is to blame. Stuart Hall explains in his article,
“The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media” that, “Ideologies tend to disappear
from view into the taken-for-granted “naturalized” world of common sense” (19). So when
impoverished students perform poorly in school the blame is placed on the parent(s) and the
student, not the systems in place that make it difficult for students to learn unless they have
economic stability. This of course is part of a large issue that makes poverty a burden in every
aspect of life, but if a student is required to purchase certain tools in order to perform in class,
then they are already at a disadvantage and will begin to believe they don’t belong in school. For
a student to live in poverty, they are already at a disadvantage for success which can likely be
passed down to their children.
Current school funding practices most negatively impact students of color. Edbuild, an
organization whose mission is to bring awareness to how schools are funded, states in their
reports 23 Billion that:
“Nationally, predominately white school districts get $23 billion more than their
nonwhite peers, despite serving a similar number of children. White school districts
average revenue receipts of almost $14,000 per student, but nonwhite districts receive
only $11,682”.
At the heart of this problem is segregation. Segregation through redlining and other
discriminatory practices that have been employed and still occur. Districts are drawn to exclude
the poor and people of color. Property owned by people of color are historically undervalued
leading to less property taxes for school in those area. Even schools in the same district can have
vastly different funding because the people making those decisions are likely white. Under
funding leads to gaps in achievement between white students and students of color. Tomeka M.
Davis and Adria N. Welcher summarizes Eric A. Hanushek and Steven G. Rivkin in “School
Quality and the Vulnerability of the Black Middle Class: The Continuing Significance of Race as
a Predictor of Disparate Schooling Environments” saying:
“Moreover, given the black-white test score gap and the inextricable link between class
and achievement, middle-class black students will attend segregated school that have, on
average, lower levels of achievement and fewer high scoring peers than middle-class
white students” (472).
One of the reasons for lower achievement and scoring is the difference in funding provided to
white and nonwhite schools. It also reinforces ideas of white superiority and minority inferiority
for those who are looking for evidence without historical context. The inequality in school
funding harms students of color and students at the intersection of race and class even more so.
The imbalance between white and nonwhite students is never as clear as in the teaching
of history where American ideology of white exceptionalism and ethnic illiteracy is most
prominently on display. In the podcast “Little War on the Prairie”, John Biewen speaks with 3rd
grade teacher Patricia Hammann, who discusses how she teaches a war that led to the largest
mass execution in U.S. history, says:
“We just talked about, like a conflict is a disagreement. And we talked how the Dakota
Indians didn’t know how to solve their conflicts. And the only way they knew how to
solve their disagreements was to fight, which we know, we don’t fight when we solve
conflicts. We use our words.
But that was their only way that they knew how to solve a conflict. They fought. And so
then the white settlers needed to fight back to protect themselves. And then we talked
about, people were killed. And then we talked about how the Dakota Indians were…”
(00:51:26- 00:52:14).
The sanitation of history for the benefit of white Americans is common. Hammann’s take on this
particular moment in history places the blame of the war and the thirty-eight hanged on the
Dakota people. The reality is much more complex and exposes the United States cruel history.
History textbooks deserve a large portion of the blame as most kindergarten through twelfth
grade teachers teach from textbooks alone. In Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your
American History Textbook Got Wrong, James Loewen writes:
“A host of other reasons- pressure from the “ruling class,” pressure from textbook
adoption committees, the wish to avoid ambiguities, a desire to shield children from harm
or conflict, the perceived need to control children and avoid classroom disharmony,
pressure to provide answers- may help explain why textbooks omit troublesome facts”
(28).
Countries need their people to be proud of their history, the only problem with is that these
actions lead to the erasure of nonwhite history. This history is equally important and necessary to
the understanding of how systems sustain white supremacy and fortify the idea that America is
for the betterment of white people. This constant reminder to students of color that this country is
not theirs is harmful and allows them to believe that the historical contributions that matter were
made by only white men. The erasure of nonwhite history support ideas that those of European
descent are naturally superior, which is why few white voices question the disproportion of
wealth and access between them and people of color.
American ideology is interwoven with white supremacy and both play a major role in the
disenfranchisement of students of color and impoverished students. They govern poverty rates,
school funding, and what is taught in schools. They allow a few to beat the odds so that those
people can be used as exonerating evidence that everyone has equal opportunities. Everyone else
is trapped in a cycle that is difficult to get out of. Education is said to be a liberator, a way out of
poverty, but that is not the truth for everyone. Children are indoctrinated into believing this so
students of color and impoverished students become isolated, cultivating the idea that they are to
blame for their educational failures.
Bibliography
23 Billion. EdBuild, February 2019, https://edbuild.org/content/23-billion/full-report.pdf.
Accessed 22 March 2019.
Davis, Tomeka M., and Adria N. Welcher. “School Quality and the Vulnerability of the Black
Middle Class: The Continuing Significance of Race as a Predictor of Disparate Schooling
Environments.” Sociological Perspectives, vol. 56, no. 4, 2013, pp. 467–493. JSTOR,
www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sop.2013.56.4.467
Hall, Stuart. “The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media.” Gender, Race, and
Class in Media: A Text-Reader, edited by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez, Sage
Publications, Inc., 1995, pp. 18-22.
“Little War on the Prairie.” This American Life, 479, 23 November, 2012,
https://www.thisamericanlife.org/479/little-war-on-the-prairie.
Loewen, James. “Handicapped by History.” Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your
American History Textbook Got Wrong, The New Press, 2008, pp. 11-30. ProQuest
Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csla/detail.action?docID=579047
Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups in 2016. U.S. Department of
Education, August 2016, https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016007.pdf. Accessed 22 March
2019.


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