Education and the Path that is Chosen for us

A guest blog article by Jordan Jana (student, world citizen)

Many people look at the United States and see a land of equal opportunity. The claim made can be supported by the combination of a semi-capitalist like market and an equal education for all citizens.

Although America does provide the right market to support equal opportunity, the education system does not.

Why?

The American education system does not provide an equal education, which can easily be observed when looking at working class and upper class schools. Many would automatically think that upper class schools have an upper hand in educating over the working class schools because they have access to more materials to strengthen learning. This is not the case, as material differences are only seen at the surface.

Educational differences go much deeper in such areas as teaching methods and philosophy.

In one form, known as the tracking system, schools and teachers follow students’ progress for years, measuring their successes and failures. The tracking system in American schools, whether purposely placed or not, may dictate one’s future career and social class.

Jean Anyon, a professor of educational policy at the City University of New York, conducted an experiment using five schools, all of different social class majority. Her study, depicts four different types of schools: working class schools, middle-class schools, affluent professional schools, and executive elite schools (Anyon, 2013). Social class rises from low to high respectively.

Teachers at the working class schools just asked for the answers and assigned meaningless busy work while the teachers at the executive elite school allowed the children to express themselves through encouraged participation in class (Anyon, 2013).

The schools convey different teaching methods from each other and exist on opposite ends of the social spectrum. The executive elite schools show stronger results and undoubtedly perceived by many as better than the working class schools. Ultimately, Anyon’s study provides evidence that children from high income families do get a better education than children from a working class family. Tracking of students over the years seems to also support this notion.

But the issue of tracking students goes much deeper than merely looking at social class.

Take for instance remedial classes, designed to make it easier for students to learn if the standard level is too challenging. The idea itself is helpful to students but may cripple their chance of having a successful future compared to students who remain in the standard level. The use of remedial classes fails, however, when the class does not learn the correct material recommended by the curriculum, thus not preparing those children for the future.

Mike Rose, an Education professor at UCLA, tells a story of his experience with the tracking system in his work, I Just Wanna Be Average. In Rose’s true account of his experiences through middle school, a placement test score of Rose’s was mixed up with another student’s, landing him in remedial classes. Rose (2013) talks a lot about not only how easy the class was, but also the lack of meaning and learning behind the material. Rose even adds that his English class read some of Shakespeare’s work but never talked about the significance of it – they just read it, no more no less. Later, Rose (2013) was moved into a higher level English class and talks about how much more he was learning.

Not only can family income decide one’s future, as noted above, but a test score can do the same.

The tracking system is real and contradicts America’s claim of equal education, but does not have to decide a student’s fate. There are plenty of people who break free from poverty and become successful. Education is the one true key to opportunity and without that key equal opportunity cannot exist.

We can fix the education system in the United States. First, send an equal amount of funding to every school. Second, cut remedial classes and employ alternative methods of teaching to be more inclusive of all learning styles and lessons.

Some may argue that these solutions are a bit extreme, but these measures are the first step to make America equal in education for ALL children.

It is only then that we can have a society built on solidly educated citizens choosing their own path in life.

Bibliography

Anyon, Jean. 2013. “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work.” Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing, editors Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin’s.

Rose, Mike. 2013 “I Just Wanna Be Average.” Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking and Writing, editors Gary Colombo, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Boston: Bedford of St. Martin’s.

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Education and the Path that is Chosen for us

  1. I thought this article was really interesting because this is a topic that I have discussed in other classes. I found it very surprising that even tracking schools might be better than elite school, but it could also go vice versa. It showed that its not all about money, its more about the effort you put in. Something that I learned in my other classes about this topic was that the schools who have enough money to help the students learn in different methods have better test scores. I thought the standardized testing was one of the only methods that every school used.

  2. The education system seems to be based on the micro rather than the macro. Instead of worrying about a big group of people, only one person gets thought of and acted upon, for the wrong reasons too. Due to the fact that one student has more money than most students do, he or she seems to get more options referring to his education. I agree how you said that someones income can decide their future, because we see it happening all around. For example, if one boy has to be at home and babysit his sister while his single mom is at work all day, he seems to miss out on the education that his neighbor gets. Due to the fact that his neighbor has more money and opportunities, he can receive extra help from a private tutor. The world isn’t a fair place. Lots of things are intertwined that effects education.

  3. As a democracy all citizens should have access to the same education. Wealth should not determine someone’s quality of education and I think many people would agree this is unbalanced and unethical. All schools should have a learning environment centered around student involvement . Teaching method is everything and with promoting student involvement more information would be retained. I agree with your proposition of equally funding schools because someone’s quality of education shouldn’t be swept under the rug just because they come from a low income household.

  4. I have struggled in classes and have gotten put into some classes below standard ones. Some have helped me and others do not help me progress. I am in all normal classes now and I learn more and it seems to me like I don’t waste my time. I am lucky enough to have moved to Naperville because the school here is excellent. Some people aren’t as lucky and will be stuck going to school not learning the correct content they need. So yes, I agree in that scores such as the ACT can decide too much for a student. Wealthy people will usually have better schools than poorer people. Will this ever change? And if so how?

  5. This article brings up very intriguing points. Surely there will be a huge difference in the education for the upper class white male and the low class African-American man. Why does it have to be this way? Education is said to be equal for all children. There have been steps toward this with the idea of “Common Core” being implemented in lots of schools. However, teachers especially in the inner city have been protesting relentlessly for years and nothing is happening. Without the schools, the kids then turn to the streets for money and power. Around the internet, I have seen videos of kids in the inner city public schools doing rather ridiculous things and getting away with it. While at the time this may seem funny cause pranks always provide laughter, but this shows the flaws in those public schools. The teachers seem to either be very passive, or hyper aggressive. Countless times have I seen teachers scold their kids brutally by yelling racial slurs at them. In rare cases, I have seen them hit the students.

    1. I agree WPierce, education is sad to be equal for all children. So that is how it should be. These are the future people in our world. They are future doctors, teachers, and citizens of the world. Everyone needs a fair advantage in this world. And this article gives several options on ways we can and need to fix our system.

  6. The American education system is antiquated at best. We live in a day and age immersed in technology and rapid new ways to facilitate learning. I think its up to educators to recognize the ways they can innovate in their teaching process, and many are taking that step forward. However, even with this, there will always be inequality in every aspect of society, including education due to the nature of capitalism itself. Proposing that ALL schools be given the same amount of funding would result in either less schools, or very low funding of all schools because schools with higher funding would have to be cut, in order to reach that level. In general, most people don’t like having things taken away from them, even if it were for the benefit of society.

  7. The united states government says all citizens have equal rights under the law, but when I read this blog i could right away connect to it and see that is not the case when it comes to equal education. I am from a working class family and from my experience the high school i attended did not have the best educational staff and or equipment. I was an athlete so many times I would go to games that were at other schools and walk around with some of my buddies and all these upper class schools had these nice touch screen white boards that were somehow connected to an Ipad the teacher would use. At my school we were lucky if the markers worked on the whiteboard or else we would send a student down to another class and ask to borrow a marker so the instructor could begin the lesson and teach. I do not believe we have equal educational rights,but we can fight this sending equal amount of funding to every school in the United States, and by teaching with a more helpful/ productive learning styles.

  8. As someone who is relatively new to the education system in the United States of America, the act of students learning and the education which differs among their social class is something I am definitely aware of and have experienced. I have received tutor classes from a teacher from a school in London whose students had the highest number of acceptance into Oxford and Cambridge. Furthermore, these are students who are in a social class of the elite. Whereas, I was attending a public school. Those who attended a private school are most likely to get the best teachers due to the salary they receive for the fees their parents pay for their child’s education. Hence, social class plays an important role in the education children receive in today’s society. While these social classes do their best, it not all about the money and mainly to do with the schools society and their ways of educating their students to reach a higher social class in their future by committing to high standards of teaching. With this said, as the blog rightly mentions, the government needs to split funding to schools and make them equal to give every student the best chance and right to become their best self for their future and life.

  9. Now I agree with how the United States is a place for equal opportunity. I also, don’t think when it comes to education that it is all so equal. Yes better technology and supplies might help some schools, not every school is given that equal opportunity. Some schools depending on its location or the kind of people that may go there may get more money for its students then say some of the schools in the ghetto. Which doesn’t make it fair for the students who go to these schools in the ghettos because they might not be receiving education that might be challenging enough for them to actually learn something, instead of them just sitting in a classroom for a very long time and come out with nothing new.

  10. Education is one of the frameworks for socialization and teachers are the agents. I do believe that students learn depending on the teachers and the way they educate. It isn’t fair if the teacher has a different style of teaching and not fit for the student. How a student is graded is also not fair if they are horrible on taking standardized tests. I agree how this article states that it is chosen for us. I think that sometimes education just makes people settle. They spent so much time in school and after college, they just settle on the job they got. Depending on the level of their education and how they used those tools to study, others may have chosen a degree they didn’t have interest on. Schools from the beginning should focus on a child’s strength and let them know of what they are capable of doing. So by the time they finish high school, they know what they want. But the pressure of choosing their degree shouldn’t be there. Kids need to be taught that it’s okay to make mistakes and that there is no timeline for your education. People become successful in different ways and different times of their lives. We shouldn’t let education and the level of it control us. We need to focus on learning the tools to succeed, rather than be grading on the knowledge we learn. Knowledge is great, but knowing how to apply it in real life and real life situations, that is the education we all need.

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