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The Correlation Between Education and Economic Inequality

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Have ever considered how well your education was due to your family’s financial satiability? Many professors and social workers argue their opinions on the subject, of how economic inequality affects children’s education. In the article “Why American Schools Are More Unequal Than We Thought,” Susan Dynarski explains the disadvantages of children affected by being from lower income families. Unlike Dynarski, we are approached with a counter argument in the article, “The Good News about Education Inequality,” by Sean Reardon, Jane Waldfogel, and Daphna Bassok. Through these articles we are able to notice educational inequality has a long road ahead, and even though we are progressing we still need to provide resources for under privileged kids.

The first article we will look at is “Why American Schools Are More Unequal Than We Thought,” by Susan Dynarski, a professor at the University of Michigan. In Dynarksi’s article she argues the disadvantages of poor students vs. their peers by asserting their grade point average (Dynarski). It is important to point out how to be aware if a child’s education is being affected by their family’s income. In Dynarski’s article she provides research, and statistics to look beyond just what we see in a classroom setting, “Measured using that conventional approach, the gap in math scores between disadvantaged eighth graders and their classmates in Michigan is 0.69 standard deviation”. A very important question to ask is, how long has this affected a child, or how long will it? Children’s education who have been affected by their income have already been several grades behind their peers and may never catch up. Dynarski answers our question, by noting how long we can see that economic inequality has been affecting children, she states “we can see this with national data,” she also uses the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to prove this point. Although Dynarski’s article proves a good point through research and statistics, it is very one sided. Unlike Dynarski’s article, the article “The Good News about Education Inequality” provides another side to the story.

In the article “The Good News about Educational Inequality” by Reardon, Waldfogel, and Bassok they provide an insight on how the performance gap in low-income children has narrowed. In Dynarski’s article we were able to notice how the gap intentionally started. Reardon, Waldfogel, and Bassok provide us with research, and statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics to show how they were able to provide how the enormous gap has narrowed. Also, it is important to note that the gap has improved because of low-income students’ rapid improvements. Reardon, Waldfogel, and Bassok provide this information by stating, “Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that by 2015, when those kindergarteners were in fourth grade, their math and reading skills were roughly two-thirds of a grade level higher than those of their counterparts 12 years earlier”. One of the main questions to ask is, how could the gap improve so rapidly? It is through preschool programs, changes in home life, income growth, and most importantly cognitive development. The children that have been affected by educational inequality have a brighter future ahead of them now. From Reardon, Waldfogel, and Bassok’s point of view we can notice the advantages coming from educational inequality and strive to keep narrowing the gap.

To summarize, educational inequality is progressing quickly but has a long road ahead. Through both articles we can notice that economic inequality plays a big role in our education. Without noticing the bad (the disadvantages Dynarksi points out in her article) before the good (the narrowing of the educational gap in Reardon, Waldfogel, and Bassok’s article) progress we’ve made, we may forget why we are still needing to put time, funding and resources into helping the education of under privileged kids. I believe it is important for everyone to be provided with equal opportunities. The first step to overcoming educational inequality begins with you.

Works Cited

  • Dynarski, Susan. “Why American Schools Are Even More Unequal Than We Thought.” From Inquiry To Academic Writing, edited by Greene and Lidinsky, Bedford St. Martin’s, 2008, pp. 427-429.
  • Reardon, Sean, et al. “The Good News about Educational Inequality.” From Inquiry To Academic Writing, edited by Green and Lidinsky, Bedford St.Martin’s, 2008, pp. 430-433.

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