by Jill Nelson (Viking Penguin,
Nelson was the first black woman to write for The Washington Post's Sunday
Her autobiography gives a behind-the-scenes look at class and race bias
in action in one of America's most prestigious newsrooms.
CLASS AND EDUCATION
A generation ago, when you sent your kids to private school, it
was because you didn’t like black people.
And now when you send your kids
to private school, it’s ‘cause you don’t like poor people.
It’s all about class,
it’s all about, “I want my kid to go to school with the right kinds of people so
that he can get in to Harvard"...it’s all about class.
Joe Queenan, author and columnist
Americans tend to believe that education is the great leveler of class, an idea that
assumes that all Americans get an equal education. But the fact that most public
schools are supported by local property taxes guarantees that wealthier communities
will have better-financed schools. In reality, high-quality public schools remain, by
and large, available primarily to children who live in wealthy communities, while
those who live in poor districts are often literally short-changed.
How do schools get and spend their funding?
students into two groups.
Group 1 can devise a plan to research how their school is
Group 2 can research the same questions at a school (public or private) in a
lower- or higher-class neighborhood or if possible, in another community. [Note: This
could perhaps be a long-distance project, with students from a suburban school e-
mailing students in an inner-city school for answers.]
After research is completed, compare: What is the operating budget for each school?
Where does the money come from?
How much is spent on each student? How much
is spent on technology and equipment? On teachers' salaries? On extra-curricular
activities, like music and art? What are the main sources of revenue for each school?
Is there a relationship between property taxes in the community and education?
What is that relationship?
for education statistics:
From the National Education
Association Web site, teachers or students can download a free annual report of
state-level education data, including sources of school revenue, teacher salaries, and
per-capita expenditure for the year 2000.
for additional statistics:
on the correlation between income and
CLASS AND GENDER
Two segments of
People Like Us
point to the particular class-related issues faced
by single or divorced women with children in America.
In the program, two African-
American mothers link their "low" status as single parents to their exclusion from a
high-class black club.
Burger King employee Tammy Crabtree struggles to support
her four teenagers, apparently with minimal assistance from their father.