Educational Equality

August 24, 1973

Report Outline
New Questioning of Old Values
Causes of Educational Inequality
Future U.S. Commitment to Equality
Special Focus

New Questioning of Old Values

Decline in U.S. Public Confidence in Education

American public education is going through a period of agonizing reappraisal. A mood of disenchantment has replaced the enthusiasm with which Americans once embraced their educational system. There is a growing feeling that somehow the schools, with their fancy equipment, scores of specialists and high-sounding ideas about the latest breakthroughs in methodology, have failed to do their job.

Public education has always had a special function in American society. Schools have been regarded not only as institutions of learning but as vehicles of social mobility—the means of providing equal opportunity for all Americans to move into the mainstream of American economic and social life. Education would be, in the words of Horace Mann, “the great equalizer of the conditions of men—the balance wheel of the social machinery.” As society came to place increasing emphasis on credentials, degrees and technical training, the role of education became even more important in determining one's chances in life.

The liberal, egalitarian faith in the efficacy of education fueled the drive to desegregate and reform the American school system during the last decade. Equalizing educational opportunity—through such policies as compensatory education, Head Start programs, and busing ghetto children to suburban schools—became a cornerstone of the Great Society's attack on poverty. Billions of dollars were spent but little evidence of success could be found.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Segregation and Desegregation
Apr. 23, 2004  School Desegregation
Oct. 18, 1996  Rethinking School Integration
Feb. 24, 1995  Housing Discrimination
Dec. 26, 1975  Busing Reappraisal
May 03, 1974  Desegregation After 20 Years
Aug. 24, 1973  Educational Equality
Sep. 06, 1972  Blacks on Campus
Mar. 01, 1972  School Busing and Politics
Aug. 16, 1967  Open Housing
Apr. 29, 1964  School Desegregation: 1954–1964
Feb. 06, 1963  Interracial Housing
Aug. 27, 1958  School Integration: Fifth Year
Jan. 15, 1958  Residential Desegregation
Oct. 16, 1957  Legal Processes in Race Relations
Oct. 17, 1956  Enforcement of School Integration
Jan. 12, 1955  School Desegregation
Sep. 03, 1954  Segregation in Churches
Oct. 08, 1952  Race Segregation
Nov. 07, 1947  Negro Segregation
Diversity Issues
Segregation and Desegregation