MAVIS G. SANDERS Johns Hopkins University
Since the advent of mass schooling in the United States, some populations have been better served by this nation's educational system than others. Poor and minority students have been among those for whom the system has provided unequal inputs, and who have been plagued and stigmatized by unequal outcomes. Despite years of educational reforms designed to address these disparities, the United States is still faced with substantial numbers of poor and minority students who are being failed by this nation's schools. This failure is particularly evident at the secondary level. Between 1972 and 1996, students from low-income families were more likely to drop out of high school than were their counterparts from middle- and high-income families. Furthermore, in 1996, the high school dropout rates for AfricanAmerican, Latino and Native-American students were still higher than the dropout rate for their White peers. For poor and minority students who remain in school through high school graduation, their proficiency scores in mathematics, reading, and science continue to lag behind those of their White counterparts. Students who attend secondary schools with high poverty levels and high percentages of minority students also are more likely to be taught core academic subjects by teachers who did not major in these subjects than are students at more affluent schools with smaller minority populations.