by Susie
This is pretty depressing if not exactly news to the rest of us. The Times’ Thomas Edsall on how college is now working to keep the upper classes on top:

Instead of serving as a springboard to social mobility as it did for the first decades after World War II, college education today is reinforcing class stratification, with a huge majority of the 24 percent of Americans aged 25 to 29 currently holding a bachelor’s degree coming from families with earnings above the median income.

Seventy-four percent of those now attending colleges that are classified as “most competitive,” a group that includes schools like Harvard, Emory, Stanford and Notre Dame, come from families with earnings in the top income quartile, while only three percent come from families in the bottom quartile.

Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and co-author of “How Increasing College Access Is Increasing Inequality, and What to Do about It,” puts it succinctly: “The education system is an increasingly powerful mechanism for the intergenerational reproduction of privilege.”

These anti-democratic trends are driven in part by a supposedly meritocratic selection process with high school students from the upper strata of the middle class performing better on SAT and ACT tests than those from poor and working class families.

Krugman comments.

2 thoughts on “Privilege

  1. The 1% can not possibly keep their privileged position in any society if they are forced to accept the philosophy of equal oppurtunity for everyone. So the rich fight against that philosophy tooth and nail. In order for the philosophy of equal oppurtunity to work, wealth has to be leveled out. If not in fact then in practice. Which is the theory behind Pell Grants. Everyone knows that the wealthy can afford whatever the want. Therefore the poor must be raised up using some tool so that they can compete with the wealthy. Call it affirmative action if you’d like. In the long term it would be best to distribute income so that the spread between the 1% and the 99% is not 40% for them and 60% for the rest of us. A fair tax system could do that.

  2. John Holt used to say that the real function of schools was to separate the winners from the losers.

    What the oligarchy is effectively saying is that the upper income classes are now full and the ladder of opportunity has been taken out of service.

    They were willing to pay for cheap college tuition to produce the engineers and technologists to build the rockets, computers and communications systems in 1960-1980, but all that is done now and Chinese and Indian engineers are just as good and cheaper.

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