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### Unveiling the True Factors Behind Academic Underperformance

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Wayne Miller/Magnum

Letter to the Editor:

In his recent column, Nicholas Kristof sheds light on the pressing issues surrounding education and democracy, a sentiment I wholeheartedly echo. While endorsing Mr. Kristof’s stance, I aim to introduce a layer of complexity based on my ongoing state-level research delving into the impact of racism, particularly anti-Black racism, on academic performance.

My analysis reveals disparities in educational outcomes among different demographic groups. Privately educated students, Asian Americans (especially those of Indian descent), financially secure white students, offspring of college graduates, and non-English-speaking Hispanic children tend to receive better instruction. On the contrary, Native American, economically disadvantaged (eligible for the National School Lunch Program), and Black students often lack adequate literacy education.

It is no revelation to Mr. Kristof that marginalized groups face educational challenges. What surprises me is the glaring disparity in educational quality across neighboring urban and suburban school districts. The discrepancy is not solely attributed to funding levels, although a correlation between per-student expenditure and academic success exists. Rather, administrative choices play a pivotal role, such as allocating top-tier educators to schools with more privileged students, tailoring resources based on parental income, and disproportionately offering advanced programs to white students—a subtle yet pervasive form of systemic bias.

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