Poll Opportunity 826326902
What Americans say about…

Opportunities & expectations: Do all students have the same chances?

The public says lower-income, rural, and black and Hispanic students are underserved compared with their counterparts.

The public perceives substantial gaps in educational opportunities and expectations facing student groups. Some are racial or geographic, but the sharpest are income-based: 75% of Americans in the 2018 PDK poll say public school students in low-income communities have fewer educational opportunities than those in well-off communities, and 55% say schools in low-income areas have lower expectations for their students.

Majorities across groups see fewer opportunities for students in low-income communities. One gap is by education — 86% of college graduates hold this view vs. 70% of adults without a college degree Among others, Democrats (82%) are more likely than Independents (73%) or Republicans (67%) to see fewer opportunities in low-income areas.

Pdkpoll K15A Low Vs Well

The educational gap in this view extends to expectations. While 68% of college graduates say schools have lower expectations for students in low-income areas vs. those in well-off communities, a smaller share of adults without a college degree — but still 50% — say the same. Those with incomes of $50,000 or higher (59%) also are more apt to say expectations are lower in lower-income areas than lower-income adults (48%).

Rural students

Overall, 53% say public school students in rural areas have fewer educational opportunities than those living in towns, suburbs, and cities. Fifty-eight percent of urban dwellers say rural students have fewer educational opportunities; among rural residents themselves, 48% say so.

A majority (56%) say schools hold the same expectations for rural students, but about one-third of Americans say schools have lower expectations for rural students.

Pdkpoll K16B Opportunities Table

Black and Hispanic students

Overall, 41% say black and Hispanic students alike have fewer opportunities than white students. Blacks and Hispanics themselves are significantly more likely than whites to say that their groups have fewer education opportunities. Nearly three-quarters of blacks say so; it’s much lower among Hispanics, but still 51% of Hispanics see fewer opportunities for blacks and Hispanics, compared with 3 in 10 whites.

Further, 50% of all adults say black students face lower expectations from their schools; 45% say the same about Hispanic students.

Asian students

Views on opportunities and expectations differ when it comes to Asian students. Seventy percent of adults say Asian students have the same opportunities as white students, with the rest roughly divided on whether Asians have more or fewer opportunities.

There are racial differences in both directions: Twenty-two percent of nonwhites overall say Asian students have fewer opportunities vs. 7% of whites who hold that view. But 29% of blacks say Asians have more education opportunities than whites, twice the level of whites or Hispanics who say so.

But 37% of Americans say Asian students face higher expectations than white students, not lower ones. The comparative numbers for black and Hispanic students are in the low single digits.

(Results among Asians can’t be broken out due to the small sample size of this group.)

Pdkpoll K16A Expectations

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