1. At 76, Jonathan Kozol is More Outraged Over Inequality Than Ever
This is an article about Jonathan Kozol, long-time education activist and author of multiple books on education inequality. Kozol is well into his seventies and still lecturing and writing in the hopes that our education system will one day give students equal opportunity to succeed.
Here's a quote from the article:
"What's happening now in America, says Kozol, is "not even a pretense of a meritocracy." We are willfully condemning the futures of poor children in our society and, by scapegoating teachers and underfunding schools we're destroying public education. If that legacy of public education is lost, "that precious dream of Thomas Jefferson at his very best," says Kozol, "it will imperil our democracy."
2. Kalamazoo, Mich., the City That Pays for College
I read this article in the NY Times magazine a couple of weeks ago. In November 2005, some unnamed donors decided to pay tuition for Michigan's public colleges, universities and community colleges for students who graduated from the Kalamazoo, Michigan high schools. The program, called the "Kalamazoo Promise", gives Kalamazoo teenagers hope for higher education. One in three Kalamazoo students lives below the national poverty line, and one in twelve are homeless. The Kalamazoo Promise is blind to family incomes, student grades and disciplinary and criminal records. The program requires families to reside in a Kalamazoo school district and graduate from a Kalamazoo high school. The hope is that families will live and work in Kalamazoo for longer, thereby boosting the local economy.
BoostUp is an organization dedicated to helping teens who are at-risk for dropping out of school the support they so desperately need to graduate. I've watched many of the videos on the site about student stories. As I watch these videos, I am reminded that these are just a handful of the adolescents in this country who are struggling to make ends meet. The site also provides statistics about dropout rates and ways for the average person to give these students a boost, whether it be by tutoring students after school, giving students resume and interview help, or donating to schools in need.
4. The Opportunity Gap, by David Brooks
I read this article back in July. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam recently did a study on the socioeconomic gap in America by looking at opportunity inequality among children, the future of our nation. College-educated parents spend one hour more a day with their children. Upper-income parents have increased the amount of money they spend on their children's enrichment programs by $5,300 a year in the past forty years. Children from upper-income families are about twice as likely to play after-school sports and more than twice as likely to be captain of their teams. They are much more likely to participate in other extracurriculars.
"Equal opportunity, once core to the nation’s identity, is now a tertiary concern. If America really wants to change that, if the country wants to take advantage of all its human capital rather than just the most privileged two-thirds of it, then people are going to have to make some pretty uncomfortable decisions."
5. Income Inequality and Educational Opportunity, by Laura D'Andrea Tyson
This September 2012 article includes some sobering statistics about the education gap in this country.
"The United States is caught in a vicious cycle largely of its own making. Rising income inequality is breeding more inequality in educational opportunity, which results in greater inequality in educational attainment. That, in turn, undermines the intergenerational mobility upon which Americans have always prided themselves and perpetuates income inequality from generation to generation.
This dynamic all but guarantees a permanent underclass. Indeed, the process is already under way: An American child’s future income is already more dependent on his or her parents’ income than a child born in most other developed countries."
Knowing the facts is the first step towards making a difference.
The 2012 census reports:
"Of the 20.4 million people with income below one-half of their poverty threshold, 7.3 million were children under age 18, 12.2 million were aged 18 to 64, and 940,000 were aged 65 years and older. The percentage of people aged 65 and older with income below 50 percent of their poverty threshold was 2.3 percent, less than one-half the percentage of the total population at this poverty level (6.6 percent)."
Here are some interesting graphs from the census report:
7. Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Show
Yet another article with startling statistics about the state of education inequality in America.
"One reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children’s schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources. This has been particularly true as more parents try to position their children for college, which has become ever more essential for success in today’s economy.
A study by Sabino Kornrich, a researcher at the Center for Advanced Studies at the Juan March Institute in Madrid, and Frank F. Furstenberg, scheduled to appear in the journal Demography this year, found that in 1972, Americans at the upper end of the income spectrum were spending five times as much per child as low-income families. By 2007 that gap had grown to nine to one; spending by upper-income families more than doubled, while spending by low-income families grew by 20 percent."
Here are some great graphs with statistics about inequality in the United States.
One important fact I learned:
"Only college graduates have experienced growth in median weekly earnings since 1979 (in real terms). High school dropouts have, by contrast, seen their real median weekly earnings decline by about 22 percent"
This article focuses on education inequality in New York City.
"The real outrage, then, is not our vivid language but how education in New York City is more likely to reinforce existing patterns of inequality than to serve as a pathway to opportunity. It is as if New York is testing black, Latino and poor students on their swimming abilities after knowingly relegating them to pools where the water has been drained. These students are then stigmatized as failures, their parents labeled as less than fully engaged, and their teachers called ineffective. Ultimately, their community’s schools are closed rather than being supplied with the necessary resources and supports to flourish. One cannot ignore the impact of such policies and practices on the public image of blacks and Latinos males and the profiling that exists in our society."
10. Some informative and heart-wrenching videos about general socioeconomic inequality and education inequality:
Richard Wilkinson: How Economic Inequality Harms Societies
Inequality in the Public Education System
Disparity in Public Education Funding in America
Jonathan Kozol: Education in America (1 of 6) (Follow the related videos for parts 2-6)
This is America- Jonathan Kozol (Part 1 of 2)
Hans Rosling: New Insights on Poverty