Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor

<p>WASHINGTON — Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects. </p>

<p>Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period. </p>

<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?hp%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/education/education-gap-grows-between-rich-and-poor-studies-show.html?hp&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Of course it is the great equalizer and it's been proven time and time again if you get a good education you can rise above poverty....however, just sitting in a classroom doing nothing is not the same as getting an education...</p>

<p>This board is a perfect example of this. Most people here are fairly well educated, working to find information to get their child the best education for them, getting information about how to pay for school, etc. So, our kids are going to get into appropriate schools, have a leg up on others for scholarships or whatever. Someone that hadn't done any research, doesn't know that if you make $20,000/year your child won't pay a dime for college, etc. Then you have to factor in the entitlement attitude common in the poor population and why SHOULD they get an education?? There are a lot of factors that contribute to this and until the underlying problem is addressed, this gap is only going to get wider and wider.</p>

<p>And this 'news' is surprising?</p>

<p>After my S graduates, I plan to help kids at their 70% free and reduced lunch public urban school navigate the college application and financial aid process. I've been trying to help now, and have had a few parents and a few students come to me for assistance.</p>

<p>When my older D received a mailing from Questbridge 4 years ago & I asked the school guidance counselors about it, they had never heard of it and told me it was probably a scam.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Then you have to factor in the entitlement attitude common in the poor population

[/quote]
Although this attitude toward the "poor population" is somewhat common on CC, I do not share it. Why SHOULD the "poor population" want an education, given their entitlement mentality? Because most people can see that those "entitlements" don't compare to the lifetime rewards of a good education.</p>

<p>college-query--while that is a good idea, you could probably better help them in the elementary years build a foundation and instill the importance of getting a good education so they CAN go to college. The problem in a lot of low income schools is that by the time they are juniors in high school it's just too late to get them into college. Many can't read anywhere close to grade level, their math skills just aren't there, etc. This problem starts WELL before high school.</p>

<p>Many would agree that large gaps in the basics like food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education in one society lead to problems. However I don't see trends or solutions in black and white. </p>

<p>Regarding the education gap, there are many factors - the actual opportunity that one child has compared to another, education's priority in the family, and the mindset of child himself. Any one of these factors can result in a significant gap as I can see looking at my own kids where most factors are the same, but there's a huge difference in stats. The problem I see is that all too often, the proposed solution is to take (or borrow) money and throw it at the problem or pull back the upper end so that the gap is reduced.</p>

<p>Here is how I see it.</p>

<p>Have more $$ is the key motivator for a large % of Americans. At the same time, most of the same segment of society obtain most of the information from TV. In other words, education is not known to them as a mean to a better life. Since there is not a internal motivation and/or interest in learning, you could throw as much $$ at the school system and it will NOT make a difference.</p>

<p>To close the education gap, is to bring in the culture that education is a good thing. </p>

<p>I could give you million stories of how boys and girls from the very bottom of the society come up to middle class via education. One common thing among those stories, the family values education and will do everything they could to give their kids the very best education they know. </p>

<p>PS. this is not to debate what the "best" is.</p>

<p>Is it a debate about getting need based aid for being dirt poor? ;)</p>

<p>I like the idea of helping at the elementary school level. Since my own child's college search is nearing an end, I ought to have some time on my hands come next fall. After I spend a few dissipated weeks drinking with my young, unencumbered friends more often than good sense would dictate, I'll need a new hobby. In all seriousness, this issue saddens me. At my daughter's high school, the problem still does manifest as a (to me) shocking gap between white and black students. I gather from my limited research that the reasons for the gap are rather complex (as social problems tend to be, IME). In any case, I don't have an activist's personality but I would like to think I could make a difference, however small, with one or a handful of young students. I'm calling my kid's elementary school alma mater today!</p>

<p>frazzled1---the issue is that they don't see education as a way to get ahead when they can spend the day walking around the mall and still get a paycheck....</p>

<p>No one said that their life was good, but it's good enough for those that choose to spend their lives on welfare and not everyone on welfare is on it for life, but those are not the ones to whom I referred. You can be as high minded as you want but the reality of the situation is that lifers on welfare do not equate getting an education with getting a good paycheck.</p>

<p>There are about 11 million illegal immigrants living in the US, and 8% of children born here are to illegal immigrants. So you've got both a large population of residents who have no incentive to get an education since they cannot get a better job legally with it, and a large population of young people being raised by uneducated non-English speakers who know nothing about higher education in the US. Why is anyone surprised that the education gap has grown wider?</p>

<p>No one who is on welfare is on it for life any more, unless by "welfare" you mean disability benefits or something like that. If you're talking about TANF, the benefit that replaced AFDC, which was commonly called "welfare," you're about 15 years out of date.</p>

<p>And you think that anyone in this country considers the TANF check a "good paycheck"? I'm just wondering, have you met any of the people you're describing?</p>

<p>"a large population of young people being raised by uneducated non-English speakers who know nothing about higher education in the US."</p>

<p>Like my father, who became a lawyer despite his Yiddish-speaking immigrant parents' elementary-school educations. Legality has nothing to do with the fact that most educated Americans are descended from folks who came here with no education and no English skills. This is a blanket argument against immigration.</p>

<p>We had a similar discussion on another thread about helping those around you in your own school and at neighboring schools who might have less resources - financial or cultural/eduactional - than you. I was roundly mocked and there was a distinct us and them vibe along with jabs about "Am I supposed to go read stories to their kids at night?". I was trying to advocate for doing what you can at the elementary level so that it trickles up as kids get to middle and high school and are living and learning (or not) in your community.
Getting away from black and white in term of skin color, I am hearing a lot of black and white in terms of poverty and education. There is a lot of grey area and a lot of middle ground between this charicature of "the entitlement attitude" and those who are comfortably well off and adequately educated. A recent study at our state flagship noted that in our area for a family of 4, 65k is the income required to stay afloat with modest needs met. There's a lot of room between 20 or 30k and 65k where people are working and making hard choices about kids activities, work hours, health care, etc. etc. Particularly when looking at the 40-65k range, families make too much for specific programatic help but not enough to provide many opportunities and a solid savings for college.
Please don't bash about specific number values - they are meant to be rounded generalizations. My point is that there are many, many people who do care about education and do read to their kids and do try to provide the best for them and are still struggling.</p>

<p>I think there's a great need for volunteer help at the middle school and high school level. Even in our nice, suburban district there are parents tripping all over each other in their eagerness to volunteer in the elementary schools. But by high school there is an incredible drop off in available volunteers. </p>

<p>Little children are cute and sweet and generally "easy" to work with. Middle schoolers and high schoolers can be tougher. And parents are burned out, or have different responsibilities at work and are less available. And safety issues at middle and high schools can create a less open and welcoming atmosphere. </p>

<p>The knowledge of ANYONE who has spent time on CC and has at least one child in college would be tremendously appreciated at many high schools.</p>

<p>*Why is anyone surprised that the education gap has grown wider? *</p>

<p>It all goes hand in hand....the wealth gap grows the same way. </p>

<p>Those who are better educated make more money. </p>

<p>Certain choices/decisions made during the high school years and soon after largely will determine people's future success.</p>

<p>There are always exceptions, so there will be exceedingly resilient children from low-income families whose resourceful, resilient, education-oriented (though poor) parents cultivate the social emotional and cognitive resources that the children need to succeed. Outliers show what is possible, not what is probable. </p>

<p>I work with families of young children, some of whom are very low-income. The upper- and middle-income families whose children I see have benefits such as time off (paid vacation, sick, or personal business leave) that they can take in order to meet with therapists, medical staff, or early intervention teams. My lower-income families have to ask for unpaid time off. Try meeting with a parent in tears because, rather than being able to take a few hours off for a mandatory appointment, she had to take a whole day, unpaid. She did not have the economic cushion to miss a day's wages. (If I had known this, I would have met her after my work hours.) </p>

<p>My upper- and middle-income families have the resources to pay for quality daycare; my parents who work a number of part-time jobs with ever shifting hours cannot even predict their work schedules. They hobble together childcare of atrocious quality; the lucky ones have a family member to watch their children. These are parents who have jobs that, in the past, might have been unionized and provided a more stable income. Now, without training or education, they barely survive. </p>

<p>My upper- and middle-income families also struggle mightily to maintain a work-family life balance in an economy in which workers are increasingly expendable, so I'm not suggesting that they have it easy -- just like most of us worked/work very hard (whether at home or to provide good substitute care). It is just that the support and experiences that young children receive varies substantially by social class. Even in early intervention for children with learning challenges or disabilities (my field), there is no acknowledgment of this fact or systematic even-ing out of resources and supports for the lower income children. Quite the opposite; better educated, wealthier families advocate to get more services for their children! (Not to fault them; of course, this is what knowledgeable, caring parents do!)</p>

<p>The fact remains that inequality in income and in access to resources is growing, not diminishing in this country. Studies have shown that, at this time in history, there is less social mobility in the US than in other countries that we tend to consider more class-based (England, France as examples). Someone born into poverty is overwhelmingly likely to remain in poverty or near poverty (again, probability not possibility). One of the findings in one of the studies cited in the NYT article was that this gap in achievement between the wealthy and the poor was already wide at entry to kindergarten; the school years did not serve to narrow the divide. </p>

<p>I personally think that, as a society, we will be better served when most of our young are provided with rich opportunities to grow and learn throughout their entire childhoods and that social policy should not be based mainly on outliers (since some do well, that proves that nothing is needed to help those that don't). This is not to devalue or diminish the individual responsibility and roles that caring parents at all levels of income play in the lives of their children.</p>

<p>college_query, kudos on paying forward your college application expertise! I've volunteered at all levels K-12 and agree with you that the college-bound students at disadvantaged high schools need all the support they can get. Most don't have college-educated parents, and as you point out, their guidance counselors are often woefully uninformed. Fewer people want to help middle and high school kids; cute little kids are always a big draw!</p>

<p>Ooops, cross-posted with eastcoascrazy.</p>

<p>Hanna-there are people around the country that continue to receive a government supplied check giving them money each month on which to live that was never tied to earnings from a job....and do so for their entire adult lives. That is what I mean by "welfare". Yes, I have met plenty of these people and they know how to work the system just fine to insure they continue to receive benefits. I don't think it is a good paycheck and I never said that, THEY think it is a good paycheck relative to what they have to do to get that check in the mail each month--big difference. The system was designed as a stop-gap measure to help people in a short term time of need....not as a way of life. There is no sense of urgency to get off the system and especially no reason to get an education. There are plenty of people using the system in the proper way, a new, legal immigrant going to college to get a degree but needs help to buy food and pay rent for his family is a perfect example of what the system is for.</p>

<p>""Am I supposed to go read stories to their kids at night?""</p>

<p>Well, stuff like that, yeah. There are all kinds of ways to volunteer time or money to help equalize this. Many of the law students I work with spend their lunch hours reading to children. The biggest, and yet the easiest, thing I do to help poor kids is own property in an economically diverse community rather than moving to a town where my taxes only support privileged kids. Encouraging your bright, dedicated kids to become public or charter school teachers is another big action.</p>

<p>"That is what I mean by "welfare"."</p>

<p>I think you should use the actual name of the program so we know what you're talking about. Is it TANF, SSI, what?</p>