Weight disparity in U.S. schools penalizes women, minorities

A racially and economically disadvantaged minority population in the U.S. school system is the subject of a weekly discussion in the journal Pediatrics called “Transforming Academic Care.” The October 9 issue features “The Role of Latinos in Independent Colleges and Universities,” a research article by Kathryn Schultz of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and colleagues, UC Davis, and Cornell University.

“Although minority representation in higher education remains at low levels, college enrollment is on the increase and access to college-level education is outpacing other levels of higher education, such as entry-level jobs and debt,” according to the authors.

In response to this, the authors reviewed efforts to increase minority enrollment in both university-level and graduate-level education. They did a meta-analysis to gain a statistical understanding of the impact of transferable factors, such as the administration of athletic scholarships, by considering the all-accountability schools designed to promote cross-institutional communication and education.

Eighteen research publications targeted by the special editorial were chosen based on strong studies on multiple campus areas. The researchers emphasized that they could have been more generous to those who had been at risk for disadvantage because of discrimination, but suggested other factors that could have impacted respondents.

One of the measures developed in the meta-analysis was the “facial discrimination” metric. This measure includes three domains with significant weight derived from data related to discrimination experiences important to the UCSD community, such as verbal and physical abuse. The researchers found a 10% impact, or no discernible effect, on minority enrollment.

“Transferable factors could have been more strongly related to minority enrollment in math and reading because of the educational experiences available to minority students in many high-performing minority-serving schools,” Schultz stated.

The reason for providing a score of “no evidence” for lack of progress on “social justice” to the nutrition, education and employment outcomes of minority students in particular, may be found in the research’s conclusions. “The lack of promotion of healthy behaviors is observed through the risk-taking and social norms integrated in many aspects of academic achievement,” the authors say. The omission of other measures limits quantitative understanding of factors determining academic gains.”The strength of the randomization of the effect of transferable factors in minority enrollments in UC Davis’ UC Davis Math and Reading Lab, the work of Schultz and colleagues on the genome-modelling studies, and the larger studies of academic diversity and sex inequities reported in the special supplement are strengths of the special assessment,” the authors write.