Paige Gbasie

Date of Award


First Advisor

Francisca Oyogoa

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Third Advisor

Milo Alvarez


When public school systems were established in the U.S. during the mid to late 19th century, the stated purpose was to provide more students with a quality education and an equal opportunity to succeed in life. After the civil rights movement the scope of inclusion and equality discourse expanded to cover all races. This rhetoric is now popular in US society; education is envisioned as a common key to “the American Dream”, and reiterating this promise of equal educational opportunity has become a tradition among policymakers, politicians, and education reformers. The problem is that reform efforts to ensure equal access to high quality education have continuously failed to be effective, and disparities in educational access persist today, especially between racial groups. This analysis reviews the history of—and the gaps between—equality rhetoric and praxis, examines where contemporary proposals for education reform fall short for Black and/or lower income students, and concludes with a brief commentary on how education reform might be more effectively approached and enacted.

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