Why There Is a Persistent Education Gap?

By Grace On Jun 21, 2013


Then, in the summer between 7th and 8th grade, I had a transforming epiphany. I had been spiritually born-again and baptized three years before. Now God showed me, as a 12-year-old, that Mrs. Smith had done His work. He had personally used Mrs. Smith to take me from worthless failure to sweet success - and that this great blessing was only a tiny parable of his amazing grace, transforming every part of my young life. The Lord Jesus also revealed to me that I could start serving him by helping others - especially by coaching and encouraging fellow students that showed evident un-used potential. Immediately after that epiphany, early in 8th grade, I first saw some of the rough edges of the education gap.

Because of the dense smoke and misleading mirrors surrounding so much of federal and state education policy, most citizens are puzzled by the education gap - the fact that nationally African-American and Hispanic-American youth graduate from high school at 66% of the rate of European-Americans - and then enter college at 50% of the rate, and finish college at 33% of the rate of European-Americans. Because of excellent civil rights legislation and proper court decisions from 50 years ago, official policies seem fair - except for limitations on school choice. The nanny state control over the selection of the children's schools has a de facto racist aspect. The politicians that teachers' unions support may seem "liberal," but their anti-choice education policies continue to enslave millions of children through dysfunctional schools they would escape in a nanosecond, if they could.

On the implementation level, racial injustice is persistent and costly. The education gap is immensely expensive because of the huge lost potential for individuals, their families and the communities. And the pipelines into prisons remain crowded, which causes further major degradations to the families and communities. The additional losses of human potential to our country and to the world are utterly incalculable. Now nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War, we all continue to pay dearly for America's chronically habitual racial sins. On the ground level, since the beginning of 8th grade, I have sought to bring some liberation to victims of these evils. Please let me share some of that story. Perhaps it will inspire.

In my high school in the inner city, many fellow students needed encouragement. The school was half black and half white, but the band (where I had the privilege of playing piccolo!) was mostly black. The college prep classes were mostly white. Because I often hung out with my fellow band members, I recognized their brilliance. Early in 8th grade, when I tried my pre-algebra problems on fellow band members, they could figure them out with great speed - even though they had been assigned to the boring "general math" class. They hated general math, because it was a mere repetition of the math they had studied for years - but they loved my pre-algebra problems, and they were smart enough to figure them out at least as fast as I could.

There was a simple solution, I thought. Bring this missed potential to the attention of a guidance counselor early enough in the Fall so that a class change could take place. It would make sense and be good for everyone. However, instead of addressing the opportunity and fixing the injustice, the advisor attacked me for presuming to advise her! How dare I, a little 8th grader with no professional qualifications, try to counsel a counselor? This 12-year-old was run out of the counseling office, but nothing was done to remedy the injustices to my brilliant fellow band members. Other visits to the hostile guidance office produced the same results. I tried to be a personal encouragement, but the miseducation and disempowerment at Central High School was as entrenched as sin. I graduated as salutatorian in a class of 300, but there were no minority students even in the honors group.

Read more at Christian Post.  

Dr. Paul de Vries is the president of New York Divinity School, and a pastor, speaker and author. Dr. de Vries is Senior Pastor of Immanuel Community Church in lower Manhattan, and since 2004, he has served on the Board of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 40 million evangelical Americans.


Persistent Education Gap, literacy, education, children