(Original post by JollyGreenAtheist)
It should be emphasised that 'black people' is ambiguous; there are black africans and black caribbeans. Black africans perform better than black caribbeans. Moreover, Bangladeshi students also perform poorly, alongside Pakistani students. However, educational achievement should not be taken in isolation to other factors, such as gender and social class; white working class boys achieve the lowest out of every social group in the UK at GCSE level.
There are several schools of thought on why ethnic minorities achieve poorly, and they can be divided into internal factors and external factors; that is, factors within the education system, and factors in wider society.
Internal factors: - Marketing and selection policies - since 1988, schools are marketised, and they draw on stereotypical images to sell themselves to consumers. For example, a public school that sends a load of kids to Oxbridge or gets loads of A/A*s is highly unlikely to have a group of black boys in hoodies on the front, just because it would create an unfavourable image for the school. The stereotypes get perpetuated within the system, and this ostracises and alienates minorities, also discouraging them from high academic achievement.
- Labelling. Numerous studies conducted by sociologists like Kituse and Cicourel found that teachers label students, who go onto the 'self-fulfilling prophecy', where they actualise their labels. Studies found that teachers label black students as 'aggressive' and asian students as 'slow, and unable to grasp the language', although statistics show that Indian and Chinese students are the highest achieving ethnic group in the UK at GCSE level, which somewhat dispels this.
- The ethnocentric curriculum. Some suggest that the curriculum is geared exclusively towards white british culture and language, thereby alienating minorities.
- Institutional racism. Various studies found that schools do not provide adequate measures for students whose parents speak another language, making communication between parents and teachers difficult. Also, cases of racist bullying and abuse are giving low priority in terms of punishment and resolving.
External factors: - Material deprivation. 15% of ethnic minorities live in overcrowded and inadequate housing, compared to 2% of white people. This leads to respiratory illnesses associated with damp, an inability to work in a quiet space, lack of exercise and a lack of privacy. Ethnic minorities also tend to be from more deprived areas and lack the funds for a sufficient diet for students. Marylin Howard linked a lack of vitamins and nutrients to underachievement due to in inability to concentrate. Additionally, lack of funds means that students are discouraged from university, cannot afford text books, calculators, stationary, school trips and can be subject to bullying.
- Racism in wider society. A study was conducted by John Rex into racism in the workplace. He sent in two identical CVs to a job, with only the name being different - one was Mr. Smith, one was Mr. Singh. This was repeated with several employers and Mr. Smith was employed ~70% of the time. Other studies have linked racism to social exclusion and bullying.
- Cultural deprivation. There is a suggestion that the attitudes & values and language of ethnic minorities is inadequate for success. Some argue that black students are socialised into fatalistic subcultures. Black families are more likely to be single-mother headed, which Charles Murray argued to cause delinquency because of a lack of male role model, and David Moynihan argued led to material deprivation because single mothers could not earn enough to sustain their children. Some criticise black language, as being responsible for underachievement, although most black students can speak english well, and indian and chinese students achieve very well despite english not necessarily being their first language. The major critic of cultural deprivation theorists is Nell Keddie, who argued that one cannot be deprived of one's own culture; ethnic minorities are culturally different
but not deprived - the system should accommodate and integrate them as best they can.
So, those are the arguments. Let's have less "black people don't try hard enough" or "it's genetic"; assertions which are largely unsubstantiated, arguably racist and frankly moronic.