There is perhaps no issue in American education more intractable or more painful than the persistent gaps in educational outcomes between Black and Brown students and their white peers. In our ongoing coverage of education, The Hechinger Report explores how white students are given advantages every step of the way, how racism is woven into the system — from the way schools are funded to the material students are taught — and what’s being done to make change.
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Alexis Turner listened carefully as the administrators at the freshman orientation for Kent State University at Ashtabula ticked through the student groups she could join on campus that fall: English Society, Psychology Club, Student Veterans Association. She left the auditorium apprehensive. There was no Black Student Union, Latino Student Union or Multicultural Society.
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Everyone seems to think that a lack of “soft skills” is the reason why students of color aren’t ready for college and careers. More schools and after-school programs are teaching students how to have “grit,” compassion and a “growth mindset.” Under the new federal education law, states are encouraged to use “nonacademic” factors to hold schools accountable.