Hear Us,
Believe Us:
Centering African American
Parent Voices in K-12 Education

Key Finding 4: Opportunity Gaps

Slightly more than half of parents and caregivers believe that African American students in their community and surrounding areas are not given the same opportunities to learn and succeed as White students.

Digging Deeper

In assessing the city-level samples in New Orleans, Chicago and Indianapolis, most Black parents say that Black students are not given the same opportunities as White students compared to the other three cities (Houston, Atlanta and Memphis). New Orleans has the highest percentage (62%) of African American parents agreeing that African American students are not given the same opportunities as White students, which is 10 points above the national average for Black parents in this study. While there have been significant gains in achievement in New Orleans, parents still do not feel their children are valued. Parents in the New Orleans focus group discussed this as well, suggesting that Black kids are being pushed out and “falling by the wayside.”

Given the deeply entrenched history of racial discrimination within schools, this finding is not surprising. African American students are more likely to attend schools with less funding, less qualified teachers and less access to rigorous programs. These are structural problems which create unequal opportunities to learn for Black students. While discussions mount about achievement gaps, opportunity gaps should be the central focus in addressing inequities.

Additional Resources

A Seat at the Table: African American Youth’s Perceptions of K-12 Education

The role to be played by youth is just as important as that of leaders and parents. They are, after all, the stakeholders whose response to reform will determine if it succeeds or fails. Of the three groups, they are the only one with firsthand knowledge of what happens in the classroom. And, all too often, they do not have a seat at the table during reform discussions. This study, the third installment of UNCF’s African American perceptions research on key issues in K-12 education, begins to remedy that omission.