Now, let’s compare the ethnic makeup and per capita income of each of the schools. Washington has 43% African American students, 38% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic, 3% multiracial, 2% Asian, and 0% Native American. Penn has 91% Caucasian, 3% African American, 2% Hispanic, 2% Asian, 2% multiracial, and 0% Native American. In the 1998-1999 school year, Washington’s per capita income was $18658, lower than the state average of $20397, but Penn’s per capita income was higher than Washington’s and higher than the state average sitting at $24898. I believe that these statistics are representative of how social class affects the quality of education in the U.S.
The problem is not merely that schools educate based on social class, it is also that they do it intentionally. In a speech that Woodrow Wilson made to some business men before WWI he said, “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.” In that, he himself states that not everyone is intended to get the same education.
It seems that anymore schools don’t teach children to be great thinkers. They are made for the children of the same social classes to have the same guided and structured experiences and not necessarily to give opportunities. John Gatto was a man who taught for almost thirty years and authored several books on education. He said in The Public School Nightmare, “When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That is if you want to teach them to think.” Meaning that in order for the children to be great thinkers both as kids and as adults, privacy must be given to them, responsibility required of them, and they must be spoken to as if they understand from day one because they do understand. Today’s school systems take this away from children. Kids are over-structured in everything they do anymore. They are given no free time, privacy, or real responsibility.
I believe that the way thing currently stand in the educational system, the higher a persons social and economic class is, the better educational opportunities they receive. In a “perfect” world, it wouldn’t be that way, an d my suggestion is before we try to work on fixing problems in individual schools, we should first work on creating equality among all schools, at least public schools. After we have given everyone the same educational opportunities, I believe that many of the problems that plague our schools today will resolve themselves.
Freire, Paulo. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Webster University Worldwide 15 June 2007
Anyon, Jean. “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work” Chicago Public Schools/University of Chicago 15 June 2007
Gatto, John. “The Public School Nightmare: Why Fix a System Designed to Destroy” Thought You Should Know 15 June 2007
Gatto, John. “Some Lessons from the Underground Story of American Education” Our Spinning Globe 5 June 2007
Indiana Department of Education Accountability System for Academic Progress 18 June 2007