The Race of Education

When it comes to education, who are the ones that get the furthest? How often does the child pass the education level of their parent? The definition of educational attainment is the highest degree someone has obtained through education, in census form. Educational attainment rates can be broken down by race, gender, and even income. There are five key explanations of why there is a difference in educational attainment between the races of African-Americans and Whites: the education they obtain before high school, high school completion, educational transitions, delays in college completion, and the income and employment gaps with disproportionate incarceration rates playing a factor as well.

Education Before High School

The educational attainment levels between whites and blacks are completely different because black and white schools are usually in different districts with different learning styles. Black and white schools have essentially never been created to be equal. Black schools (primary, middle, and high schools) are not aesthetically pleasing nor are they up to date while white schools have new edition books and are newly renovated. The teachers of black schools have to use the little resources they are given to be able to send the students to the next level and prepare them for the world outside of school. The little resources black schools are given; make it hard for teachers to teach children the essentials of becoming dominate in the workforce while the teachers of white schools have books that teach their students on their own because of more school funds. In 2004, Jonathon Kozol found that in black neighborhoods such as the one of East St. Louis, Illinois, they are given $8,000 a year to practice education compared to white neighborhoods, such as Lake Forest, Illinois, where they are given $18,000 annually. In addition, the black schools of New York City receive only $10,500 per student compared to $21,000 per student for the schools in the Long Island suburb of Manhasset (D. Stanley Eitzen). The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) did a survey to see the difference between how black and white schools are influenced by the different learning styles in reading and mathematics. The NAEP data shows that white children at the age of nine are reading slightly higher than black children at the ages of nine through seventeen. White students have read and solved mathematics equations 100 words faster than black students through the years of 1990-2008 solve. Yet, and still, the students continue on with their education and end up in high school.

High School Completion

High school, and the completion of high school, is the foundation when it comes to anyone’s future. To be able to make the money you dreamed of you either have to be an athlete, artist, or educated; but seeing how no one can ever take your education away, education is your best bet. For both African-Americans and Whites, females were less likely to drop out of high school in the mid-1990’s than males and still in 2005, eight percent of females aged between sixteen and twenty-four were dropouts compared to almost eleven percent of males of the same age (Anne McDaniel). With that being said, for those males who do graduate high school, they are more likely to receive a General Education Development (GED) rather than their high school diploma. If students do not complete high school, the likeliness that they will go to college or obtain a Bachelor’s degree is less than likely; therefore, the “stock of high school dropouts acts as a constraint on the ability of policy to increase college entry and completion” (Martha J. Bailey). However, just graduating from high school is not even close to being enough; the students that obtain their GED are less likely to go to college than those who receive their diploma and practically everyone who receives their GED do not go on to complete college (Martha J. Bailey). When it comes to college, males are more likely to prolong enrolling than females and consequently, those who go straight into college from high school have a higher chance of completing college. “Of those who enrolled in college in the year 2000, 60% of men compared with 66% of women enrolled immediately after high school,” this gap between men and women through college entry could easily be explained by the delays in high school completion by males (Anne McDaniel). As males prolong their college entries, they continuously are completing college at a slower rate than women are.

Educational Transitions

When it comes to the students who enrolled in college in the fall of 1995 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree by 2001, a higher rate of females (66%) than males (59%) met these criteria (Anne McDaniel). According to Catherine E. Freeman, in this same time-period nine percent less white males (62%) to white females (71%) and thirteen percent less black males (37%) compared to black females (50%) had obtained a Bachelor’s degree (Anne McDaniel). By breaking it down to race, past gender, whites are well ahead of blacks in the race for a bachelor’s degree. By 2000, approximately 10% of black men and 15% of black women completed college while the gender gap in college completion among blacks (.48) was approaching that for whites (.63)” (Anne McDaniel). Even though the completion rates of blacks are approaching that of whites, the gap can be attributed to the differences in income and employment between the two races.

Proportion of 22- to 28-year-olds completing college, by race and gender.

Proportion of 22- to
28-year-olds completing college,
by race and gender.

Income Gap

The difference between low-income and high-income families when it comes to high school completion can explain the gap in college entry between the two income levels. Still, “children from low-income families are much less likely to get a degree” (Martha J. Bailey). If fewer blacks are entering college, there will be fewer blacks to increase the completion rates for college. Black children that live in poverty have little to no chance to make it out alive, let alone make it to the age of twenty-five. Furthermore, in black schools the students are not as motivated to graduate high school, let alone go to college so if there is no type of motivation the students do not have a career to aspire to without the background to get them that far. Between lower-income students and higher-income students, the “higher family income is associated with a greater probability that a child will enter and will graduate from college. The college entry rate and the college completion rate rose…the increases were highly uneven, with gains largest at the top of the income distribution and smallest at the bottom” (Martha J. Bailey). This shows that the parents have an influence in their child’s success when it comes to their income as their child has a higher percentage of going to college and completing college if their parents are wealthy.

Employment Gap

Employment also plays a part in the educational attainment levels. “The employment gap among college-educated women and men was much smaller for blacks than for whites” (Anne McDaniel). Which means that black women and men are on the same playing field when it comes employment but white women are lacking behind white men in the same area. Furthermore, more black college-educated women had jobs than the same white women at all times since 1940. (Anne McDaniel) However, “Black men with bachelor’s degrees had lower employment rates than white men with bachelor’s degrees in all decades” (Anne McDaniel). Therefore, no matter the education of a black man, he will always come in second to the white man, even with the same education level and Claudia Goldin realized that even if black women and white women had the same education level, family income, and number of children, the black woman still worked more than the white woman (Anne McDaniel). All that means is that black women worked harder and longer than white women did when they did not have to.

Proportion of 28- to 32-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree that are employed, by race and gender.

Proportion of 28- to
32-year-olds with a bachelor’s
degree that are employed, by
race and gender.

Percentage of employed 28- to 32-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree working in various occupations.

Percentage of employed 28- to 32-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree working in various

Disproportionate Incarceration Rates

The race between the races of blacks and whites will always remain a constant, especially in the United States where there is clearly mistreatment of minorities. In this essay, we focused on the black minority and their educational attainment compared to that of the whites. We found that black people have come far but not far enough in the race for education and thus continuously lose the battle for better incomes and jobs. In addition, the rates of incarceration for black men compared to that of white men are severely disproportionate. Black men can be as much as seven times more likely to have had a prison record than white man and consequently are more likely to have a prison record (22%) than a bachelor’s degree (almost 13%) (Anne McDaniel). What is even more devastating is that both non-college-educated black men (32%) and black high school dropouts (52%) are more likely to have been in prison or are in prison compared to that of a white man (6% and 13% respectively) (Anne McDaniel). That really speaks to the rates of college entry and completion, especially that the rates of those two categories are low for black men. On a gender basis, women have an advantage in their education but when you translate the numbers racially, black women and, especially, black men fall short of their counterparts in education.

Works Cited
Anne McDaniel, Thomas A. DiPrete, Claudia Buchmann, Uri Shwed. “The Black Gender Gap in Educational Attainment: Historical Trends and Racial Comparisons.” Springer Link Journals 48.3 (2011): 889-914.
D. Stanley Eitzen, Maxine Baca Zinn. Social Problems. Ed. Jeff Lasser. 10th. Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2006.
Martha J. Bailey, Susan M. Dynarski. “Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion.” National Bureau of Economic Research (2011): 32.
Paul E. Barton, Richard J. Coley. The Black-White Achievement Gap: When Progress Stopped. Princeton: Educational Testing Service, 2010.

By: Lasharae Eutsey & Sierra Pierce

Leave a Reply