Access to Education

Historical Overview

Unequal access quality education is viewed as one of the central problems that face the US society as well as economy. Karl Marx, as well as Friedrich Engels, supported universal access to free education with a view that limited access to education acted as a tool employed by the bourgeoisie to dominate as well as exploit the proletariat. Historically, formal education was only meant for a few individuals, particularly males, who were associated with the wealthy, ruling as well as the elite classes. Moreover, education was viewed as a leisure activity than with work. Notably, mass education only became a goal after the industrial revolution. The United States has often is contended to be among the pioneers of universal education with many Americans going beyond high school. However, unequal access to education is still evident in the American education system; it mainly revolves around poverty, as well as social isolation among other factors.

According to Thompson, Hickey, and Thompson, some of the most significant inequalities occur between the private as well as public schools (384). In the United States, individuals who attend private schools are shown to score higher on the standardized academic attainment tests as well as the college entrance exams as compared to those in the public institutions (Thompson et al. 384). Private schooling is characterized by high tuition fee, as well as higher cost of books and uniform among other things. Therefore, “the middle class, as well as lower class families, find it hard to maintain their children in private schools” (Thompson et al. 384). Additionally, there are various inequalities in schools that are segregated by “race as well as poverty” (Orfield and Frankenberg 719). In most cases, poverty is compared with blacks and Latinos, while the affluent institutions are associated with the white and Asian communities. The differences arise from factors such as limited education resources including teacher experience as well as quality and stability of enrollment, student parent resources as well as advanced instruction.

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Existence of Problem

Although significant steps have been taken by the federal and state government to ensure equal access to education, there are still some parts of the population that do not access quality education. In an article published by the Borgen Project, McCalla recognizes that the access to education is still a problem due to various factors. Firstly, there are not enough schools, particularly in developing countries. Indeed, “Providing schooling materials along with recruiting and training teachers cost money…” (McCalla). Even if the students would want to go to school, there are not enough teachers and schools to facilitate learning hence this become a problem. Additionally, some cultures do not value education as much hence children are not encouraged to join schools; this reveals the role that culture plays when it comes to access to education in some parts. Furthermore, class also plays a role in the lack of access to education as “the benefits of the expansion in education were shared by the middle class, but did not trickle down to less-advantaged families” (Blum n.p.).

At the same time, McCarra also recognizes that minority groups also find it to access education. The minority groups have been marginalized through active discrimination in the educational system. Further, the “…passive underinvestment by the government in particular geographies…” inhibits the minorities urge to get an education (McCarra n.p.). The other factor that contributes to the lack of access to education is the conflicts in some countries which override the need for children to get educated.

Language and behavior play a significant role in the conflict and culture. When learners from different backgrounds come together, their access to education may be limited due to language barriers. For example, due to the language barriers, Hispanic students will find it hard to progress in their studies, and this s evident given the number of them that have degrees. Pinnock and Vijayakumar in their paper argue that the language that is used in schools threatens the need for education for all (11). In their work, they note that “significant new evidence has been produced to indicate that where school language is not used in children’s daily lives” (Pinnock and Vijayakumar 11). The language that children speak each day should be transferred to their educational life if enhanced outcomes are to be achieved. In essence, language and behavior play a role in the conflict and culture.

Action Plan

Firstly, teachers should be offered quality professional development as well as coaching to encourage them in their activities particularly, those in the public schools. The strong learning experiences, as well as opportunities for educators, will result in better outcome among the students while promoting talent. Regarding the low-income students, the government should ensure that the definition of education acknowledges the challenges that high-poverty schools face. Therefore, the federal government in collaboration with the state governments should ensure that enough money is invested in offering consistent services to such schools. Additionally, well-developed accountability systems should be installed in all learning institutions. Additionally, the property tax-based public education should be discarded. The state and the federal government should initiate more funding programs in the public education; in return, this generates a fair system because there are private school alternatives for individuals opting out of public schools. Additionally, the other action the government can take to tackle the problem is to make children learn in relation to their language. For example, the language that children speak in their homes should be incorporated in their education so that the number of those that access education can increase.


Works Cited

Blum, Patrick. “Agency Warns about Decline in Access to Education.” The New York Times, 2017, Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

McCarra, Keaton. “Factors Driving Lack of Access to Education.” The Borgen Project, 2016, Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.

Orfield, Gary and Erica Frankenberg. “Increasingly Segregated and Unequal Schools as Courts Reverse Policy.” Educational Administration Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 5, 2014, pp. 718-734.

Pinnock, Helen and Gowri Vijayakumar. Language and Education: The Missing Link. CfBT Education Trust, 2009.

Thompson, William E., Joseph V. Hickey and Mica L. Thompson. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.