Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi K. Nikoi


Perhaps the greatest reminder of the economic inequities in American society is the drastic deficiencies in educational outcomes, based on class and race. Birmingham, Alabama, vividly portrays this reality. Families with means send their children to private schools and/or concentrate in the suburbs, leaving largely poor, and oftentimes, predominantly minority in densely populated crime-ridden areas with suboptimal schooling. The schooling patterns are clearly reflected in the economic outcomes, though Black are a majority in the city they are vastly underrepresented in the middle to upper middle class, while grossly overrepresented among those in poverty. These inequities are often mirrored in the school system. Poor literacy and numeracy scores on tests illustrate the poor schooling. The implications of continual school failure have constricted, and will continue to impede Birmingham’s economic growth horizon.

This paper seeks to explore why these schools are failing and their impact on Birmingham’s economy. This exploration is done by examining whether or not a culturally and experientially insensitive approach to education is impeding the city’s progress.

This capstone paper is, in part, the outcome of my personal experiences working in the school system during my practicum. Primarily, though I have leveraged the connections I have made in the Birmingham area during my practicum to hold 9, 30 minute to an hour long conversations with educators, former students and Business leaders in the Birmingham area. These conversations have guided me in examining additional secondary and tertiary stories to provide greater context and increased collaboration.

The goal of this paper is to provide readers with several key Birmingham voices whose thoughts can be leveraged in adding to the conversation of how Birmingham maximizes the pipeline of high school graduates qualified for high paying jobs and to take part in growing Birmingham.


Accessibility | Civic and Community Engagement | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education Economics | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Growth and Development | Higher Education and Teaching | Secondary Education and Teaching


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