The Key Issues in Education and Social Justice

Justice is the constant and perpetual will to render to each his due.

(Roman Emperor Justinian)

The ethnic demographics of the United States are about to change. We’ve seen a surge in the enrollment of Latino and students of color. On the other hand, the number of white student registrations is declining. Experts estimate that, by 2025, students of color will dominate our educational institutes in sheer number. But we still observe racial discrepancies in our schools and colleges. Thereby, social justice helps people look beyond their skin color and treat everyone like human beings.

The Major challenges in education and social justice

What does social justice seek? It means people have variant needs, and they require different treatments than others. So, people who face discrimination require more resources than people born with their privilege. But the way we treat people must be uniform. And our treatment of others should be relevant. Also, this treatment needs to be proportionate by considering people’s different needs. That’s how social justice seeks to eradicate the following issues from our civilization:

  • Diminished Literacy

In western society, there’s an expanding gap between the well-educated and the meagerly-literate. Shockingly, the reading proficiency of our adults has declined since the last century. These scholastic shortcomings have affected our children, too, and they’re beginning to miss out on career-building opportunities. On the other hand, the elite class has quickened its marathon to progress. In the United Kingdom, most judges and doctors were privately-educated in 2015. The same could be said about half of the British cabinet. Remember that only 7% of the English population goes to independent schools. And that is an example of a socially unjust and discriminatory society.

  • Ill-equipped teachers

It’s a distressful fact about our educational system that, in 33 states, mostly inexperienced teachers tutor minority children. States have also started paying less to school/college teachers in the previous decade. In some places, such as Colorado and Oklahoma, pronounced massive cuts in mentors’ salaries. These ill-equipped and scantily-paid teachers can’t perform their necessary duties. They are unable to function as social justice educators by teachings their pupils about right and wrong. Parents support boosting teacher salaries so their students can learn about diversity. Competent educators teach children to look beyond a person’s race, caste, gender, sexuality, or religion.

  • Racial inequality

None can deny the rampant racism the non-white Americans frequently face from their intolerant countrymen. But the roots of systemic racial discrimination go much deeper than white women calling the cops on a black guy for doing nothing. In 2019, journalists found that Caucasian-Americans were seven times richer than African-Americans on average. This racism has affected our schools as well. Data shows that black students face a higher risk of suspensions and expulsions. Pupils who face suspensions are more vulnerable to turn on the wrong side of the law. That’s why our academic system is in dire need of reformation to wash away its racial disparities.

  • Rampant poverty

The economic stability of average American households shows a close link between education and social justice. A 2018 federal report alarmed people when it revealed that our country’s income gap was the largest in 50 years. Research shows that half of the students in the U.S.A. belonged to low-income families. When this century started, low-income students made less than 40% of all pupils. These students tend to perform poorly in classrooms. At the same time, wealthy parents can afford to hire external mentors for the academically-weak child. Social justice warriors protest to end this discrimination and bring the underprivileged students on par with the privileged ones.

  • Mental instability

Mental health challenges continue to scar the academic performance of our students. Anxiety and depression are the culprits behind the American student’s declining mental well- being. A 2018 study revealed a 30-40% spike in the number of students seeking help from their college counselors. Similarly, another survey by the ACHA found that 64.3% of college students felt “overwhelming anxiety” during the past year. No wonder vaping emerged as a popular trend among adolescents as a means of escape from psychological unsteadiness. Thus, experts suggest that academic institutes must provide at least one counselor per 1,000-1,500 students.

  • Limited technology

Many students have grown accustomed to the usage of technology in their lives. Though, two-thirds of the children around the world have no domestic internet connection. But the other one-third did benefit from often-interrupted online classes during lockdowns. Unfortunately, this digital blessing can sometimes be distracting too. Students spend their precious time shopping online, watching YouTube videos, or scrolling down Facebook. This “multitasking” diminishes students’ academic performance, forcing some teachers to ban electronics in their classrooms. We have hackers who can steal pupils’ personal information to blackmail them or even threaten serious harm.

  • Students’ safety

Is my child safe at their school? American parents have often asked themselves this question. A series of school shootings in recent years has infuriated the public. Parents demand better security measures for their children. A 2018 Pew Research report interviewed teenagers after the infamous Parkland shootings. Some 57% of teenagers were worried about possible gun violence at their educational institution. Preventing these attacks will ensure a comfortable learning environment for kids. Some lawmakers suggested arming the teachers. But critics argue that bringing weapons into schools will lead to more violence. So, giving guns to the teachers isn’t a possible solution here.

  • Government funding

In America, state and local governments provide 90% of school funding. Unluckily, 29 of these states were spending less per average K-12 student than they paid a decade ago. That called for a bunch of lawsuits against states to make them change their formulae for school funding. But here again, we observe systemic racism polluting our educational expenditures. A 2017 New York Times report showed that districts with mostly colored students received 15% less funding than their white counterparts. Comparatively, schools filled with white students were preferred in funding. Less funding means a smaller staff and fewer resources, including necessary maintenance.

  • Climate change

The entire world watched as Greta Thunberg admonished the world leaders for their negligence regarding our environment. The world’s climate has deteriorated as carbon emissions continue to make this planet inhospitable for wildlife. Research shows that polar bears could go extinct by the end of this century. So, activists such as Greta are pressuring our politicians to mitigate the effects of global warming because this world can become potentially inhabitable for humanity. ‘We’ve inherited a weaker earth from our ancestors,’ the younger generation mourns. They fear global warming threatens their future if this issue isn’t addressed correctly.


Social experts call education the “great equalizer” in our society. Emma Smith also believes that schools and colleges are the key agents of social justice. As long as social inequalities exist in our community, education can’t overcome these wealth and cultural barriers. Our classrooms can promote the importance of social justice among fresh minds. Educators should play their role in supporting diversity and helping students learn about the negative impacts of racism and discrimination. Affluent students must learn about their privilege, but low-income students should strive to rise in ranks. Society can’t function unless all classes are treated proportionally with justice and humanity.

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