Boston’s Educational Inequities
Reasons for Educational Inequities in Boston
The problem of educational inequality is a complex one that is driven by multiple societal factors. One kind of educational barrier can easily result in another, and many students face multiple unjust obstacles that limit their access to education and high-quality academic opportunities. Educational gaps can also be cyclical. Academically marginalized students are less likely to attend college or enter high-income careers, making them more likely to pass the same disadvantages they have experienced to their own children later in life.
Although educational inequities have similar causes across the US, they can be exacerbated in large cities with a high cost of living, such as Boston, Massachusetts. Here are some of the roots of unequal educational opportunities in Boston:
- Unequal incomes and wealth. Unequal incomes and wealth create multiple barriers to educational success. As of 2018, Boston ranked 7th in the nation for income inequality in cities. Low-income families tend to live in underinvested communities with under-resourced schools; middle-class families migrate out of the city or to better school districts. Underfunded schools lack important tools and programs that promote academic achievement in wealthier ones, and are more vulnerable to staff shortages and turnover.
- Racially segregated schools. Racial inequality in education is often a function of socioeconomic status, and this is true in Boston as it is elsewhere in the US. Boston Public School (BPS) students are heavily segregated by race. Families of color are more likely to live in low-income communities with underfunded schools and fewer overall resources for ensuring their childrens’ academic success.
- Different pandemic learning experiences. When educational institutions pivoted to online learning during pandemic lockdowns, students from low-income families without computers or high-speed internet at home struggled to keep up with their schoolwork. The performance of students with mental health concerns largely suffered as well, as did that of students with disabilities. These learning gaps have left multiple groups of young people behind on the path to educational attainment.
- Inadequate support and inclusion for students with disabilities. Students with physical disabilities frequently don’t have all the supportive equipment needed for full inclusion in all school programs. Those with intellectual or developmental disabilities face significant gaps in academic and college preparation supports and are often segregated from other students. Racial and school funding inequities as well as teacher and specialist shortages form additional blocks to education for these students.
Support Equal Access to Education With Boston Volunteer
Boston Volunteer works to make Boston and Massachusetts cleaner, safer, and better for everyone. We organize volunteer events and fundraisers that fill various local needs, from making education more equitable to improving the health and vitality of our environment. We partner with other nonprofit organizations and mobilize volunteers to ensure that all of our fellow Bostonians have the opportunities they need to succeed.