midtermq4 - Alissa Herman Midterm: Class, Poverty and...

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Alissa Herman Midterm: Class, Poverty and Inequality March 5, 2009 1.) The inequality within the United States education system stems from a disparate allocation of funding to schools in poorer neighborhoods and schools in richer ones. (Kozol 402) In New York City in 1987, for example, students in poor districts were allocated $5,500 per year whereas their richer counterparts received up to $15,000. (Kozol 402) This discrepancy in funding has dire consequences for students in impoverished areas. Here, children attend schools whose facilities are falling apart. These schools are often too small to contain the amount of children who attend them, which leads to overcrowded classrooms separated by makeshift partitions, fire hazards and discomfort. (Kozol 403) Without funding for supplies, children are forced to share battered, antiquated textbooks, if they get the textbooks at all. Teachers lack the time to respond adequately to motivated students who are having trouble with course material. (Kozol 409) Author Jonathan Kozol identifies the root of the inequality in the education system in The Savage Inequalities of Public Education in New York. New York City’s Board of Education is aware of the problems low-income students face but do little to fix them. The Board’s functionalist mindset prevents it from distributing the budget evenly. The Board believes that in order for some schools to prosper, others must suffer. The Board also believes that too many negative forces are acting upon poor school children and that equalizing the school system would be futile. According to New York State’s commissioner, low income schools should aim not to push children into college but rather to produce “typists, auto mechanics, office clerks and factory employees. These factors lead to the achievement gap within the American educational system. The achievement gap refers to the general underachievement of students in low income areas as compared to their more well off peers. Black and Hispanic 12 th graders lag behind white and Asian students in assessment tests. Black and Hispanic students also score well below white students on the SATs and attend college at lower rates. This is because advisors have an inordinate number of students whom they must guide. . The schools Kozol examines in Savage Inequalities have one counselor per 700 students so there is “little help available to those who feel confused” about college admissions. (Kozol 410) Dropout rates are also highly affected by income—three out of four black students and four out of five Hispanic students drop out of school. As such, equalizing the education system would certainly mitigate the achievement gap between minority and white students. Doing so, however, would not completely abolish the problem. While abysmal school conditions contribute to the achievement gap, there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Family and peer influences, as well as demographics, also affect children’s potential for achievement. One example of how parenting
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2010 for the course SOCL 211 taught by Professor Trinidad during the Spring '08 term at SUNY Geneseo.

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midtermq4 - Alissa Herman Midterm: Class, Poverty and...

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