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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Travis Hornsby's column Monday highlights perhaps the most pressing issue facing America today - the gross disparities in academic achievement between students of low and high socioeconomic backgrounds at all levels of education.

Currently, the U.S. is experiencing an educational crisis, and implications are seen and heard everywhere. The economies of our state and country are desperate to compete in this innovative, technology-driven market, yet our knowledge of math and science consistently rank at the bottom of the list of developed nations.

SAT scores, which can be used to predict future economic success, have been steadily declining through the years. And when it comes to courses that are not subject to standardized testing, like social sciences, studies find that students' knowledge is deteriorating or nearly nonexistent.

As college students and the most recent products of the K-12 system, we all have our stories. Often, however, no story is more compelling than that of a student from a low-income and/or disadvantaged background.

The larger picture that all these stories paint is disheartening and, quite frankly, unacceptable.

Consider that the average math and reading skills of a black or Hispanic 12th-grader are equivalent to the average of a white eighth-grader. Or that only 8 percent of kids from a low-income community will graduate from college. That in some neighborhoods, one is more likely to know someone who went to jail than someone who attended a four-year university.

In a nation that prides itself as a place for equal opportunity, it is troubling and ironic to see that not everyone has access to a quality education. Educational inequity is perhaps the greatest social issue of our generation, yet so little attention is paid to it by our peers.

If we are to solve this national injustice, we must first come together as students in order to identify tangible solutions to these problems on both local and state levels. Starting with our community, how do we ensure that students of color and low-income backgrounds have the right tools and preparation to become a part of the Gator Nation? Is UF doing everything it can to enhance the experience of this group?

Vicky Riquelme & Andrew Hecht

Gators' College Access Network

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