Skip to main content

Education Quality and Location


Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.47.46 PM


Although an education system’s sole purpose is to educate students so that they may be an engaged member of society for the betterment of themselves and their community, it is common in low-income schools and urban areas that a quality education may not be available, resulting in uneducated graduates within our society.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics on Urban Schools: the Challenge of Location and Poverty, lower income communities, in particular, have been known to negatively affect student’s education. In urban areas, poverty rates regarding children are higher.

On all education outcomes, students from public schools in urban areas do not compare as well to students from suburban schools. They also did not perform as well as rural education systems on roughly half the indicators of academic successes, educational accomplishments and economic status. Those students from high poverty urban areas performed poorer than those of high poverty rural education systems on an eighth grade level as well as completion rates of high school.

“In terms of how we improve public education, the expression ‘money doesn’t solve every problem,’ is true. However, lack of money doesn’t solve any problem,” Pennsylvanian Senator Daylin Leach said. “Poor school districts often don’t have extracurricular activities. They often get rid of the guidance counselor [or] the school nurse. Lack of money, I think, causes real problems. So we have to have to have adequate school funding, I think that’s the number one thing we have to do. It’s important that we give people well-rounded educations and adequate funding for schools.”

Unemployment rates were higher from the high-poverty urban population than the high-poverty suburban population. A majority of these individuals from high-poverty urban areas still graduated on time and several years later, 73 percent of this population was likely to continue their education or become employed, according to the National Center for Education Statistics on Urban Schools: the Challenge of Location and Poverty.

Outcomes of students from high poverty urban education systems differed from others.

Test scores from urban eighth grade level students appeared lower on tests than suburban or rural eighth grader level students. Tenth grade level urban students scored equal to the rural 10th grade level students, while also scoring lower than suburban 10th grade level students. As opposed to being related to urban locations, the concentration of higher poverty in urban areas contributed greatly, according to the National Center for Education Statistics on Urban Schools: the Challenge of Location and Poverty.

According to Special Study Panel on Education Indicators, since the successes of a student are primarily measured by test scores, these numbers also become a measure of achievement for the educational system when measuring that they are teaching the student adequately and the academia performance is satisfactory.

A study on young adult literacy showed that a parent’s education proved having a significant impact on the education that young adults eventually achieve. This reminds society that this simply is not a trend but a lifestyle. Children will emulate not only their parents’ habits and hobbies but their education and desire to be a part of society.

Funds for the low-income education systems may not be high, and this equates to a lack of materials and necessities in order to aid with impactful learning structures. Educators in high-poverty urban schools feel as if they do not have the necessary materials, unlike teachers in other school systems. Sixty-seven percent of teachers in urban high-poverty schools felt as though resources were only satisfactory, according to the National Center for Education Statistics on Urban Schools: the Challenge of Location and Poverty.

“The education system [in Philadelphia] is horrible,” Armando Carvajalino, Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility inmate, said. “They’re more about their checks [and] the way I was brought up in school, I was in Catholic school [and] they just passed me because my mom paid the tuition, even though I was doing horrible.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics on Urban Schools: the Challenge of Location and Poverty, the salaries of teachers in high poverty urban school systems were higher than teachers in the rural regions. Education systems with the highest amount of poverty had the highest percentage of teachers with three years or less teaching experience. This happened to be 70 percent higher than that of low-poverty education systems, which make up seven percent.

“The system is all messed up, the whole school system,” Carvajalino said. “The teachers don’t really care. There are some that do, but mostly they don’t. They just tell you to do this and do that, and that’s it.”




Investing in education is one of the best ways to reduce inequality. The investment must begin in early childhood education and continue as children travel through the educational system.

“I think if we think about what the American dream is—that you can be anything that you want to be if you’re willing to work hard for it—and we typically start that dream off in education,” Cheryl Logan, the chief academic supports officer for the School District of Philadelphia, said.

Investments and reforms also need to be made in the K-12 public education system, including the redesign of No Child Left Behind, transforming high schools and empowering students through investments in the classroom, according to The White House.

“Schools can fail children when they’re not preparing them for the workforce, for college, for things beyond; when they’re not instilling in them the love of learning and desire for success but it’s hard for me to say that a failing school is the problem,” Vontrese Deeds Pamphile, a doctoral student in management and organizations and sociology at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, said.

Education, from her point of view, is not the be-all and end-all of issues related to inequality. “I think that poverty is the problem and the school is kind of a consequence of that,” she added.

According to the Brookings Institute, policies need to be centered around increasing public investment in preschool and postsecondary education, which are highly underfunded, educating the whole, as well as “closing resource gaps to reduce education gaps.”

Higher education can also serve as a stepping stone to achieving the American dream, but with high tuition costs and crushing debt from student loans, inequality can become even more pervasive. College needs to be made more affordable in order to open up the access to larger groups of people, rather than serving as a divide.

Susan Dynarski, professor of economics at the University of Michigan, said that college can improve people’s lives but at the end of the day, it’s a gamble. “It’s a bet and some people won’t win the bet,” she said.

She has proposed the idea of an income-based repayment plan that would allow for people who roll the dice, but end up losing the bet, to essentially not pay back the loans. But if people succeed in their endeavor, they do pay them back.

In addition to reducing costs, The White House’s initiatives for higher education include helping the middle class afford this level of education, strengthening community colleges and creating tools to improve transparency and accountability.

Reforms are crucial in improving education so that it may better serve everyone on their journey towards achieving the American dream.