There are wide inequalities within schools in the USA. There are differences in exam results and experiences between private schools and public schools. There are also inequalities within the public school system. In December 2015, President Obama signed the Every Child Succeeds Act. The law shifted the responsibility of improving schools and exam performance from the federal government to individual states.
Traditionally, minority groups live in poorer areas. This is one of the reasons why school attainment has on the whole, been worse for children from minority backgrounds. They have less chance of gaining the grades to secure entry to university. For some, language can be a barrier. Hispanic children with parents who do not speak English may have difficulty in communicating with teachers and helping with homework.
The American Dream stresses the importance of individual responsibility and the government is helping to create a more level playing field in education through affirmative action.
Publicly funded universities, colleges or employers must have an affirmative action policy. This means setting goals for the employment of and promotion of not just ethnic minorities, but also women.
These are groups of people who, despite the American Dream, have suffered from negative discrimination.
Affirmative action does not mean that minority or female applicants get the job or the university place, purely because of their race or gender.
First, they must meet the entry requirements or skills profile. Only then can race or gender be a factor if there is under-representation of a group. Once at university, assessments are the same for all students regardless of whether affirmative action helped them gain access.
Supporters of affirmative action argue it is necessary to give the under privileged some equal opportunity tools to compete against confident, well qualified white males from privileged backgrounds.
They also believe that it is good for American society, highlighting how the American education system and police services are better because they have diverse workforces serving diverse populations.
They further claim that American businesses are stronger because diverse management teams can make better decisions about selling products to varied markets.
Those who oppose affirmative action believe that it is ‘reverse discrimination’ and that any kind of advantage given to any group is wrong.
The American Dream they say is all about meritocracy and giving someone additional help goes against the Dream.
Some minorities oppose affirmative action because they consider it to be patronising.