Racism is not the cause of failing schools

The cause of unequal outcomes in public schools has been the subject of a litany of studies over the decades, the most famous being the Coleman Report that was published in 1966.  Despite its finding that the quality of schools has little influence on the difference in average achievement between black and white students, some educators maintain that the root of the problem is “inherent bias” in the school system (“Carranza has no plan at all for making the city’s schools do better,” the New York Post, Jul. 6).

I don’t buy that claim.  I submit that the family backgrounds of black and white students are the reason.  Students whose parents are deeply involved in their education continue to post impressive results, regardless of their race.  Attributing differences in outcomes to racial prejudice merely deflects attention away from the hard work that needs to be done to improve education quality.

New York City, home of the nation’s largest school system, is a case in point. Instead of identifying strategies that can improve education for all students, Chancellor Richard Carranza chooses instead to cite racial bias on the part of teachers.  As evidence, he likes to point out the higher suspension rate for black and Hispanic students over white and Asian students.  But white students are suspended at a higher rate than Asian students.  Does that mean teachers are prejudiced against white students?

In the final analysis, factors outside of school play a far greater role in understanding different outcomes than Carranza and his ilk will ever admit.

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