The American Dream

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Becca Leach
WSC 001
Dr. Pasupathi
12/19/12
The American Dream

My grandfather came to America from Italy with nothing but the clothes on his back. He did not speak a word of English and left his family back in Naples. Three years later, my grandfather had a stable enough job to send for his wife and son to join him in America. He truly lived the American dream. An immigrant hoping for a new life was able to become successful and raise a family. This “Cinderella Story”, however, did not come without obstacles. As an Italian during the times right after World War Two, he faced adversity and endless prejudice. Now, about 70 years later, that prejudice and inequality in achieving the “American Dream” still exists. People of different class distinctions have been forced to form different American Dreams that have to mold to compensate their social status. Although it has been 70 years since my grandfather came to America, the unjust adversity he faced still exists with not only immigrants, but native-born Americans as well. Thus, I argue that the American Dream is still alive today, but people of lower income status have to work harder for an honest, secure way of life than people of higher social status.

James Truslow Adams was the man who stated the original definition of the American Dream during the time of the Great Depression. Adams wrote that the American Dream “is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability and achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth” (King, 572). This would be a wonderful definition if it were true. However, social class and circumstance of birth have a great deal to do with whether a person can be successful in life and fulfill their dreams. The cliché dream of having a happy family living in a beautiful house with a white picket fence is realistically a lot easier for people who were born into money to achieve than for people born into much less. Brandon King described in his article “The American Dream: Dead, Alive, or on Hold?” that “living the America Dream meant going from dirt poor to filthy rich and becoming more than you could have ever imagined” (King, 573). How are the dirt poor supposed to accomplish this if it is harder for low-income people to receive a proper education? Is that not the basis of being able to become successful? And if all significant income growth has been concentrated into the hands of a rich minority, how are the low-income people going to be able to compete? The public schools that are in low-income areas have the worst conditions and receive the least amount of money from the government. The exact opposite should be happening, these schools should be receiving the most amount of money to fix them, get proper teachers, and have useful materials so the students can receive just as good education as the upper class does. The teachers that are hired at low-income schools are incompetent. They do not care if the students become successful and accomplish their dreams. According to the article that Frank Adamson and Linda Hammond wrote for the Center for American Progress, “teachers are inequitably distributed to students in the United States…by every measure of qualifications— certification, subject matter background, pedagogical training, selectivity of college attended, test scores, or experience—less-qualified teachers tend to be found in schools serving greater numbers of low-income and minority students” (Adamson, Hammond). Also, the National Education Association reported that, “studies in state after state have found that students of color in low- income schools are 3 to 10 times more likely to have unqualified teachers than students in predominantly white schools” (NEAtoday). Do these studies’ statistics not show the clear inequality of education that low-income children are receiving? All public schools around the country...
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