Ah the eternal quest for the cure, but is the disease racism or poverty. The economists and Marxists declare that it money is the virus, tearing down our immune system of liberty and justice. Sociologists and cultural theorists have traced race to be patient X. Those who maintain a holistic view of our society, seek not so much for the big bang moment of inequality, but rather how we can evolve into a phase where inequality is not acceptable human instinct.
While race is a social construction, it is much harder to change both in perception and in self-identity. But income, the way that resources are distributed, can be much more easily re-assigned. We can raise the number which qualifies as living at the poverty line – making social welfare programs available to more families. We can increase the minimum wage to a living wage. We can reform our tax system. And most importantly we can change our views of education as a privilege into education as a right.
see article from the Brooklyn Rail: http://www.brooklynrail.org/2012/02/local/report-card-the-privatized-mind (sent to me by my darling friend J.)
“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.”
My debate team recently debated this issue in the January NFL resolved topic: The costs of college education outweigh the benefits. Our collective dialogue revealed that the costs ought not fall solely on the individual. I learned this all too personally when I researched the interest rate on my student loans. I was outraged to learn that my rate is almost double that of my mortgage. But I had to reflect and question my assumptions, why was i under the impression that the interest rate on student loans was anything close to reasonable. A little more internet trolling illuminated this for me; in 2006 the interest rates jumped from 1.2% to 6.8% or higher.
But I digress, the racial achievement gap has been a hotly contested issue in academia for some time. Either the proponents who see this evaluation of education systems as a vital way to track the legacy of racism and its disservice to students of color. Opponents who see the language of a “racial gap” as a way to pinhole students of color as intellectually inferior – through the legacy of social darwinism. The argument in general goes as follow:
There are racists teachers and even well-intentioned racist teachers who have lower expectations and give less challenging instruction to students of color. Only by measuring these students against their white peers can we identify and address this problem.
There are racists reformers and even well-intentioned researchers who will see the “racial gap” as simply speaking the “truth” that some cultural factors make students better prepared for school and thus more successful.
Yet if we reframe this discussion, and change the language to “a resource gap” – we can then transform the discussion to address all areas of need for underserved students. This article identifies one of those critical areas of inequality: TIME. Families with more economic security have significantly more time and access to control their own time. Families with less economic security are constantly pressed to work more, get to another appointment, clean their own houses, etc. And one thing we can all agree that education and learning takes for all children, is time.
link to the abstract of the research: https://www.russellsage.org/publications/whither-opportunity