How does ethnicity affect education?

Education plays a crucial role in the overall development of a person, his/her career, societal relationships, economic advancement, and subduing the effects of centuries-long ills meted out to someone.

Ethnicity is defined as belonging to a social group whose people share a common national or cultural tradition.

The United States of America has diverse ethnic groups that have been living here for ages. Predominant ones are :

  • White Americans
  • African Americans
  • Hispanic and Latino Americans
  • Asian Americans

These ethnic groups share different historical backgrounds. White Americans are white people who are historically and numerically in the US and are natives of the country. On the other hand, the African Americans are Americans whose ancestors were from black racial groups of Africa. They are commonly referred to as the blacks and descendants of the slaved African people brought to the thirteen American colonies ages back.

These two ethnic groups share very diverse historical backgrounds. One is the colonizers, and others were the colonized, one was the dominant ones, and others were dominated, one was economically more robust others were weak. This diversity in their historical background and their status naturally gave way to educational differences between them. Ethnicity thus has a significant effect on the educational and economic status of the people where they live.


While examining education, the most critical factors that positively affect students’ success in education are quality teachers, smaller class sizes, advanced curricula, access to high-quality after-school programs, and modern learning facilities. Still, one group’s historical background and dominance(whether robust or negligible) have a more significant role in determining how it accesses education and whether all the above-described factors equally serve its education curriculum.

Entrenched racial inequities generate unequal recourses for educational success. Systematic policies and practices work against children and youths(mainly black) and affect their opportunities for achieving academic success.

According to a study by Houses and Downey,  race and ethnicity between lecturers and students play an effective role in shaping the social dynamics of learning and teaching experiences. According to them, racial differences impact the teachers’ and the students’ teaching and learning.

African Americans, subjected to centuries-long slavery, have lower education rates as compared to white people. Once you are enslaved and the scenes of you being beaten and working under harsh conditions are normalized and made a usual everyday scene, the struggle to escape all these shackles is heart-wrenching. Of course, then, you strive harder and achieve your liberty and rights as a citizen, but does that mean ‘you have become free.’ The image of yours as a slave has been deeply engraved in the minds of people who enslaved you. They always tend to look down upon you in every matter, whether about equality in education or equality in status. Any struggle to achieve this equality will invite opposition.


According to nces.ed.gov,  The graduation rate was highest for Asian students, which was 36 percent, and was followed by Pacific Islander students, which is 34 percent, the White students had a graduation rate of 32 percent. In contrast, Hispanic students had an education rate of 30 percent, and the Black students at last with a 23 percent education rate.

race and ethnicity in higher education


Black Children or others who do not belong to the white category are more likely to be concentrated in low graded, highly segregated schools. Generally, these students come from low-income houses, making them more likely to attend poorly funded and poorly functioning schools. This directly impacts their educational qualifications, which stands very low compared to those who belong to the white ethnic group and are well-off, attend advanced educational institutions and have better academic qualifications.

Even if the people belonging to the black community attend these advanced educational institutions along with the whites, one can be sure of seeing children in the majority discriminating against these black students. In the educational sector, discrimination would mean developing conditions that do not allow a specific group of children or even an individual to have equal access to different levels of education. Or it could mean making fun of or being trolled or ragged at the hands of the majority.

Experiencing discrimination can provoke stress responses similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Children who encounter discrimination from their schoolmates or teachers have negative attitudes and perceptions about schools and possess lower academic motivation and low educational performance or advancement. As a result, they are less likely to complete high school.
how racial inequality affects education and the workplace


There are many studies done to answer the question ‘ how does ethnicity affect education.’ Even though this centuries-long discrimination in the educational sector may take even longer to evade completely,  you as a person make sure to learn as much as you can. At the same time, you are a student, be it in college or a school. A well-educated person and later well-off (because of his educational qualifications) would not be deceived by anyone easily. Education makes you less prone to facing and accepting violence, crimes, and social evils. It enlightens you about the ill effects of such activities on yourself as well as your community. Education is the key and should not be looked down upon. It opens up opportunities grab them.

  • Houses, Shirin. 2008. “Should Ethnicity Matter when teaching about ‘race’ and racism in the classroom?” Race Ethnicity and Education 11(4):451-428.
  • Downey, Douglas B., and Shana Pribesh. 2004. “When Race Matters: Theacers’ Evaluations of Students’ Classroom Behavior.” Sociology of Education, 77(October):267-282.

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