In recent years, race and gender equality issues have made way into the spotlight as more Americans cross paths with others who look, act and think differently from each other.
As a result, new findings from education company Pearson reveal that many are taking the initiative in learning about social justice issues so they're better prepared to live in a more inclusive world.
The company's Global Learner Survey revealed that 59% of Americans felt their education didn't adequately cover topics like race and gender equality. However, 73% are now actively learning more about these issues to make up for it.
Americans believe the current curriculum lacks a diversity component
Pearson discovered that at 58%, more Americans today believe that the U.S. education system provides quality education for its students — compared to 53% in 2020 and 44% in 2019. Still, many agree that there is much room for improvement.
Two-thirds of respondents say that systemic education still plagues the education system, and 48% think that the current measures in place fail to address it properly. Additionally, a majority believe that:
- Schools need to do more to address social and economic inequality among students (76%)
- Schools need to do more to support LGBTQ+ students (63%)
- Diversity, equity and inclusion education should begin in elementary school or earlier (56%)
Older respondents have particularly strong feelings about inclusive education. Compared with the 59% of all Americans who feel that their education lacked a race and gender equality component, the Pearson survey showed that the sentiment is higher among baby boomers (68%) and Gen X (65%) respondents.
Similarly, baby boomers (64%) and Gen X (63%) survey participants strongly agree that inclusive education should start at a young age.
Many are making up for the lack of inclusive education as adults
Perhaps due to the lack of coverage on these topics when they were younger, 73% of Americans are now actively working on educating themselves on social justice, diversity or gender equality issues. Respondents take a variety of approaches in their personal education, including:
- Reading a news article (41%)
- Watching a documentary (34%)
- Researching topics online (30%)
- Talking with a friend or family member (30%)
Younger people are even more proactive in this regard, as more Gen Z (83%) and millennial (81%) respondents say that they have done something to learn about others of a different race, gender, disability or sexual orientation within the past year.
After all, these issues continue to play out in everyday life — a previous report from the Small Business Trends Alliance found that more Black women are turning to entrepreneurship than their counterparts in other racial or ethnic groups, in part because of their dissatisfaction with corporate America.
Of course, the inclusivity of the current education system isn't the only point of concern for Americans, as The Princeton Review recently discovered that nearly all of this year's college applicants need financial aid to pay for their education.
But despite their worries, many look to the future with hope. Pearson indicated that 80% of Americans believe education will become more accessible in the years to come. Nearly half of respondents (46%) see college as more attainable for the average person today — up 10 percentage points from 2020 and 13 percentage points from 2019.
Methodology: Morning Consult conducted a national online survey of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 16-70 from May 27-June 1, 2021. Survey data is representative of the US online population, and includes a breakdown of respondents by generation, including: