“Tectonic” changes in the education gap between low-income and high-income students, according to this New York Times article: “A study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s,” and “another study, by researchers from the University of Michigan, [that shows] the imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.”

WASHINGTON – Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Quick Look: Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor 10 February,2012Tina Barseghian

  • Is it the purpose of education to, as you say above, “level” the differences, or is it the goal instead to have more learn more at all levels?

  • Plasmasrevenge

    John Taylor Gatto’s book “The Underground History of American Education” suggests that it is nonsensical to try to understand public education without scrutinizing the history of public education.  Public education was imposed upon the United States despite widespread literacy.  We were once the envy of the world in education — until compulsory public schooling.  People like Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, George Washington (and so on) did not achieve the great heights they did because of schooling.  They all received minimal schooling.  In fact, in today’s world, the fidgety, unattentive non-conformists tend to be diagnosed with ADHD and medicated.

    Gatto poigniantly points out that were everybody in this country to be granted critical thinking skills, it would create widespread chaos and might even sink the current incarnation of our economy.  That’s because the large bulk of the jobs available, as things stand, do not require critical thinking skills.  Gatto claims that school was invented to solve this very problem.  And if you equip consumers with the skills necessary to scrutinize the claims of corporations, people would suddenly realize that many of the products on the market are the very cause of illness (for instance, few people seem to be aware that foods like dairy products can promote the formation of carcinogens into cancerous tumors).  Look at all of the people putting cheese into their bodies every single day, apparently completely ignorant of their increased chances of cancer …

    The reason that our economy works so efficiently is that it is ultimately a “managed economy”, and this process of management — Gatto claims — occurs in schools.  Kids are being invited to memorize things in school because, over time, this process can atrophy critical thinking skills.  This was exactly what was needed during the Industrial Revolution, in order to fill the factories with people who would not know enough to realize their own grievances.  This is not a conspiracy; it’s common sense! 

    If Gatto is right, we might want to re-think the notion of forcing kids to go to school every day, as the very act of doing this can induce groupthink.  Bullying is not some exception to the rule; it is the very product of warehousing kids together.  But, Americans tend not to wonder at how things like school came about, and they will yell “conspiracy theorist” at anybody who makes such heretical claims. 

    Yet, there is no doubt that the needs of the Industrial Age — when school was imposed upon this nation despite strenuous resistance in each and every state — were very different from the needs today.  I highly recommend Gatto’s book for getting a grip on the history which led to this current moment in education.  His worldview is quite effective at explaining what we see around us, and if more people read it, the conversations we’d be having about education would be far more sophisticated.

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