Inequality in Education

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Table of Contents

A. Abstract

Analysis of Education

B. Functionalists Perspective and Education
C. Conflict Perspective and Education
D. Symbolic-Interactonist Perspective and Education
E. Conclusion
F. Bibliography

“Three quarters of the students at the most elite private colleges come from upper middle-class or wealthy families. Only five percent come from families with household incomes under $35,000. Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, poor children of color – and regardless of color -- are routinely, and increasingly, assigned to schools filled with other poor children—a practice with a long, proven record of failure. The college enrollment gap between low- and high-income Americans is widening, even as the economic value of a college degree continues to increase”(Meyers). See table below. [pic]

The goal of education is to make sure that every student has a chance to excel, both in school and in life. Increasingly, children's success in school determines their success as adults, determining whether and where they go to college, what professions that they enter, and how much they are paid. Why is that getting a good education is dependent upon a person’s socioeconomic status? Education is a right in the U.S, but it seems to be accessible for the privilege. Why do we have inequality in education? Let’s look at different views explaining some possible causes or contributors to this issue. “Social inequality is the expression of lack of access to housing, health care, education, employment opportunities, and status. It is the exclusion of people from full and equal participation in what we, the members of society, perceive as being valuable, important, personally worthwhile, and socially desirable. Economic inequality is expressed through the unequal distribution of wealth in society. This has obvious ramifications in terms of the unequal distribution of what that wealth may purchase; housing, health care, education, career prospects, status - in our society, access to all these things is largely dependent on wealth. Because of the nature of our society - post industrial, competitive, capitalist, commercially driven and consumer oriented - economic inequality and social inequality are inextricably linked”(Preston, 1999). [pic]

“The data in this chart cover only cash wages -- not health benefits or pensions. If they were included, most of those inflation-adjusted minuses would turn to pluses. But inequality wouldn't disappear. The best-paid 20% of workers on private payrolls are three times as likely to have health insurance as those in the bottom 20%, and this tally doesn't count stock options and the like -- and you know who gets the bulk of those. The wage gap between those with business, law, medical or other postgraduate degrees has widened a lot more than the gap between college and high-school graduates. Even excluding capital gains, tax-return data crunched by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley show that the top 1% in the U.S. got 16% of all income in 2004, compared with 9% in 1984”(Income, 2006).

Review of Literature:
“Education Secretary Margaret Spellings points out two basic factors of inequality in Education, in an article in “The Institute for Emerging Issues”, October 2006. 1. Access and Affordability. Spellings points out that the cost of higher education has outpaced inflation, putting a college degree out of reach for many families. The lost potential is not only felt by individuals, but also by the state and country. She wisely identifies this issue because there is little else that matters more than education in determining our future. Spellings however, doesn't mention the primary reason behind the skyrocketing cost of higher education, which is the continual decline in public funding from governments. Recent trends...
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