Essay Example on Achievement Gap in US Education: Gloria Ladson-Billings' View

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1432 Words
Date:  2023-03-28


In the education system of the United States, the achievement gap is among the most talked-about issues. It refers to the disparities within standardized test scores between Latina/o and White, recent immigrant and white, and Black and White students. A good example is the funding disparity and historic inequality that existed between race, gender, and class. Even though there are several standard views concerning the achievement gap, Gloria Ladson-Billings' understanding differs from them, and she focuses on the four types of debt as components of education debt.

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Ladson-Billings' Comprehending of the Education Debt

Ladson-Billings depicts the education debt as that expense which is accrued over time, where the public schooling system owes the alienated groups of students which it has and persists in serving poorly. Therefore, Gloria, in simple terms, coined the word "education debt" to illustrate the cumulative effect of fewer resources as well as other harm directed at learners of color. The standardized test scores are between Latina/o and White, Black and White, and White and recent immigrant students. She argues that the historical, sociopolitical, economic, and moral decisions and policies are components of the education debts (Ladson-Billings 5). Also, she insists that it is crucial to address education debt by naming three primary reasons. The first reason is because of the debt impact on the present education progress. Second, the value of comprehending the debt relative to past education research findings. Third, it is the potential to forgo a better educational future (Ladson-Billings 9-10).

Gloria Ladson-Billings' Understanding and Common Views

Gloria's understanding has taken a different tack on the education debt notion that differs from the arguments by several economists. Professor Emeritus Robert Haveman argues that education debt refers to the forgone schooling resources, which could have been investing in low-income kids that deficit leads to numerous social problems that need on-going public investment. The required investment reduces the resources that could be used in lowering the achievements gap. Robert claims that you require cutting one to close the other. According to Wolfe and Haveman (2001), the literature about the intergenerational impacts of education is usually neglected in assessing the full effect of training. They mainly emphasize the non-market outcomes of schooling. Despite the economists' reasoning informing Gloria thinking she takes a different stand on the notion. She argues that the yearly fluctuations within the achievement gap offer us a short-range image of how students perform on a discrete set of achievement measures (Ladson-Billings 5). Therefore, she asserts that considering the difference from year to year is a deceptive exercise. Instead, Gloria insists on looking at the education debt for a better understanding of the achievement gap as a logical outcome.

Four Types of Debt

The Historical Debt

It refers to the historical inequalities that existed between race, class, and gender. Steadily, some of the inequity started to recede, but clearly, they continue within the realm of racism among the African Americans, American Indian, and Latina/o students. During the enslavement period, education was forbidden initially among the African Americans, and after emancipation, there was the development of freedmen's schools to maintain servant class. During the legal apartheid period, African Americans went to school, where they were offered cast-off textbooks from White Schools. In the South, Black students never experienced universal secondary schooling up to 1968. The American Indian education history was equally egregious since no principally White colleges welcomed the minority Indians who completed their boarding schools. Hampton Institute was among the historically Black colleges that opened its doors for them to study vocational and trade curricula (Ladson-Billings 5). Also, the Latina/o students faced huge disparities within their education; for instance, the Brown kids were eliminated from high-quality and equitable education.

Therefore, the historical debt is all about the historical inequalities that students of color experience in education. The ignorant masses did not impose the obligation, but chief leaders of the country endorsed ideas on the inferiority of Latina/o, Black, and Native peoples. An excellent example of the likes of these leaders includes George Washington, who never gave a thought of educating his enslaved children. As time passes, laws were made to permit all grades of public schools accessible to all students free of charge in Massachusetts. In the Southern States, laws bidding the tutoring of enslaved Africans were passed. The greatest achievement was the U.S. Congress's illegalization of teaching Native Americans in their native language. Despite the historical debt being a heavy one, communities of color have worked tirelessly to educate themselves (Ladson-Billings 5-6).

Historical debt can be addressed in the classroom using several ways; for instance, the students of color should be treated the same to their White counterparts like being subjects to the fair making of their exam papers. The implementation of a syllabus that educates the essentiality of the right to education to all kids is essential.

The Economic Debt

Gloria focuses on the debt in terms of funding disparities that exist between urban and suburban schools. She alleges that the funding disparities present the value we place upon the education of varying groups of students. The funding inequalities map so tidily and frequently onto the racial and ethnic realities among our schools. Although, it cannot be proven that the schools are poorly funded since Latina/o and Black students attend them, it is vivid that the funding amount rises with the increase in white students. The earnings ratios linked to years of schooling are an essential part of the education debt's economic component. The rates portray how people are doing at specific points in time, but they never address the cumulative impact of such income disparities. Data proposes that more schooling is linked to higher earnings. The economic analysis maps well on the concept of education debt as obstructed to the achievement gap that Gloria was trying to advance (Ladson-Billings 6-7). Therefore, as the income gap more intimately looks like the achievement gap, the wealth discrepancy better replicates the education debt she was trying to describe.

In the classroom set up, the debt can be addressed in numerous ways. The first method is the teacher, ensuring that he encourages all his students to work hard in their studies to proceed up to the university level. It will help reducing high school dropouts hence dealing with the issues of earning ratios related to years of schooling. Also, the White and students of color should be treated the same in the classroom, like giving them equal chances of becoming group discussion leaders.

Sociopolitical Debt

It reflects the degree in which communities of color are locked out from the civic process, especially before the voting Act of 1965. Due to the sociopolitical element of the education debt, the families of color have often been eliminated from the decision-making mechanisms, which should make sure that their children get a quality education (Ladson-Billings 7). The school site councils, parent-teacher organizations, and other potentials for democratic participation have been unavailable for most of these families.

The sociopolitical debt can be addressed by ensuring that the students of communities of color are taught on the proper ways to make their voices heard. It can be achieved by incorporating these studies in history and government subjects to ensure that they are made aware of how to voice their minority power.

Moral Debt

It reflects the disparity that exists between what we are aware of is right and what we do. Therefore, we owe individuals who have historically been rejected groups like the Native Americans, immigrants, children of immigrants, and minorities. In the classroom, the moral debt can be addressed via establishing class policies on what is right for students to do or what they should not do (Ladson-Billings 8). In doing so, the kids will be made aware of the morally right act expected from them at an early age.


It is vivid that the focus on the achievement gap has been misplaced with the education debt that has accumulated with time. The debt comprises of historical, sociopolitical, economic, and moral components. Gloria Ladson-Billings has a differing tack on this concept of education debt. She believes that the yearly fluctuations within the achievement gap provide us a short-range image of how students do on a specific set of achievement measures. However, an economist like Professor Emeritus Robert Haveman views education debt as the foregone schooling resources which we could have invested in low-income kids that deficit leads to a range of social problems that need on-going public investment.

Work Cited

Ladson-Billings, Gloria. "From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools." Educational Researcher, Vol. 35, no. 7, 2006, pp. 3-12.

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Essay Example on Achievement Gap in US Education: Gloria Ladson-Billings' View. (2023, Mar 28). Retrieved from

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