Race and Class: Separate and Not Equal

September 12, 2006 1 min read

What matters more—students’ socioeconomic status, or their color? As Brown vs. Board of Education becomes more past than present, and the days of separate but equal seem to be over, is race no longer a limiting variable in education? Has poverty eclipsed race as a determining factor in student achievement?

In this Education Week Commentary, Tierney T. Fairchild, a writer and consultant and the former executive director of the Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia, warns that overlooking the ever-present power of racial discrimination, or conflating it with poverty and class, will only perpetuate inequalities in the classroom. The persistent black-white achievement gap, she writes, is a testament to the singular power of race in education. If we fail to consider the continuing importance of race, cautions Fairchild, we will never close this gap.

What do you think? Does race still matter in education? Or has class become a more salient factor in policymaking?

A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.