While there is little argument that the American education system needs reform, there is also little agreement on how to improve it. The "achievement gap" in education refers to the disparity in academic performance between disadvantaged minority students and their wealthier, white counterparts.
The crisis in educational achievement is rooted legally in 1954's class action suit Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in schools. The case diversified the student population in classrooms, but the gap in academic success between white and minority students persists.
Plenty of steps have been taken to close the gap, the most well-known being President Bush's 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, a program based on providing government funding to schools and standardizing criteria to hold schools accountable for student progress. Schools that don't meet the standards set by the government may be labeled "in need of improvement," in which case parents may be permitted to transfer their children to another public school in the area. There is still debate on whether NCLB is the most effective way to improve minority achievement, but the legislation succeeded in raising awareness of the problem.
In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled against programs that use race in school assignments to build diversity, claiming that any discrimination on the basis of race - even if it's encouraging diversity - is still racial discrimination. The decision is likely to challenge many existing programs that consider race to draw students from different neighborhoods to certain schools.
Everyone knows that the achievement problem exists, but solutions create controversy around a sensitive issue. To promote diversity, should race be a factor? Here are some helpful sites to further your understanding of the subject.