The concept of “education in crisis” is being discussed with increasing frequency as a key factor in the failure to achieve the MDGs and EFA. In spite of its prominence in discourse, a unified definition of “crisis” or “conflict” is lacking. This represents a deficit in our understanding of what constitutes a crisis or conflict, and how this applies to education. This study first uses a literature review to examine the meanings of crisis and conflict (among other terms) as well as into the current status of inequality in the United States and the world, particularly in education in the United States. Next, a comparative approach is taken to examine interviews with three groups of teens from California. These interviews discussing the students’ day-to-day school lives, are analyzed to understand their experience and the manifestations of the inequality which exists in the American school system. I argue that certain populations of students in the United States experience a type of education in crisis by virtue of the inequality that exists there. Though there are programs to provide extra support, they do not make up the difference between students coming from backgrounds of resource wealth and deprivation. However, students interviewed coming from the latter maintained a sense of optimism and hope about their futures which is not to be diminished. I recommend that resources be devoted to developing a comprehensive educational program devoted to Education for Peace and Diversity in order to foster and actualize this optimism.