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The level of education one has stems from where, when, and who they grew up around. There are many studies one could reference to see that the education levels among different social classes differ tremendously, with wealthier people more likely to have obtained at least a Bachelor’s degree and people with lower socio-economic statuses less likely to have even completed a high school diploma or an equivalent of that. There are many reasons behind the differences in education among different social classes, one of them being the rising costs of tuition keeping those who aren’t as financially well off from obtaining higher education, as well as the opportunity costs of going to school instead of going straight into the workforce. Those who are poorer may not have the time in a sense to go to school because of the perceived hardships of paying off student loans as well as the fact that schools in working class neighborhoods may not prepare their students for higher education but rather prepare them to enter blue-collar jobs. Many of the factors that play into the discrepancy in education levels between social classes show that education level directly impacts social mobility, occupational outlook, and quality if life.
Many of the factors that influence a person’s level of education are direct consequences of their social class. The case for this is stated throughout Anyon’s piece, Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work, taken from the 1980 Journal of Education published by Boston University, in which a breakdown of five different sample schools is given with the average family income of the students’ households broken down into different levels that vary from working class to middle class to upper middle class to wealthy and beyond. The differences in income levels is caused by the type of occupation the parents of the students’ have which varies from unskilled labor all the way to elite white-collar professionals. The amount of variation between the occupations that the parents of the students are employed in allows for a variation in the type of work that students are prepared for in their respective schools. The case is made that students from predominately working-class schools are generally prepared for working-class jobs, with schools of higher social classes preparing their students more readily for work that requires more in depth training as opposed to the semi-mechanized teaching styles of schools that cater to working-class neighborhoods (71-85). With rational thinking one can see that this is a very pragmatic way of training students for their most likely paths after graduation. If someone was from an entirely working-class area, it would be likely assumed that they would also go into a working-class job and therefore do not need to have more in depth learning strategies taught to them, the type of learning style most emphasized in schools that cater to students of higher socio-economic backgrounds. This is also displayed in the piece, Still Separate, Still Unequal, written by Jonathan Kozol, in which the differences between inner-city schools, (schools in which many of the students come from lower-income and working-class households), and schools outside of large cities are compared, with the worth of the education in the predominately minority populated inner-city schools being worth, (in 2005 dollars), around 8,000 dollars per year and the education of students in predominately white suburban schools being worth 12,000 dollars per year (44-46). This shows yet another barrier to higher education for students in lower-income schools, a systemic one caused by less funding being given to schools in the inner city.
The preparation schools give to their students to either enter the realm of higher education in the way of attending a university or through vocational schools, or to enter the workforce directly upon leaving the schools directly depends on the type of backgrounds the students come from. Students from higher social classes are more likely to be pushed to pursue higher-learning opportunities than their less wealthy peers as is shown by Anyon by displaying that students from lower income areas are more likely to receive education that prepares them mostly for methodical jobs like those that would be found in the fields of manufacturing and labor whereas schools that cater to students of wealthier backgrounds are taught the types of critical thinking skills that better prepare them to pursue higher education on a university campus (77-85). This difference in the type of education allows for students from wealthier backgrounds to excel more rapidly and to ultimately be more likely to earn higher wages than their working-class counterparts. This brings the idea of classism into the mix by not allowing for students from less well-off backgrounds to receive the type of learning style needed to be readily prepared to pursue higher educational opportunities. This point is visited by Mantsios, who in his article, Class in America, in the journal, Money and Success, writes about the idea of a division in social classes in America. He explores this by displaying sample profiles of Americans showing what their family income levels are, their parents’ occupations, the type of school attended, supplemental tutoring received, and their higher education level among other things. The charts also break down current living situations for the children who were profiled with the wealthiest of the profiles living in an eleven bedroom condominium on the eighteenth floor of a Manhattan complex, and the poorest of the profiles working as a nurse’s aide living with her child and elderly mother in a somewhat rundown apartment in a crime-heavy area of the Bronx (313-317). Upon reviewing these charts it is clear that children of higher social classes generally receive better education and are more able to excel in life than their lower class peers. Those who were born into working-class families are generally less able to afford higher education and are not given much if any supplementary education that would allow them to achieve academically at greater rates. This shows a cycle that allows those from already well-off backgrounds to remain in the same social class or to break into the next higher class where people born into lower classes and into poverty have not nearly as many opportunities to advance their social standing because of the factors of money, limited time for education, and lack of motivation from schools to pursue higher education.
Educational inequity causes those who receive less education to have to work harder to achieve at the same levels as those who have received more education or a better education. This allows for a lowered quality of life due to the lack of opportunities for advancement in a career for those who haven’t received a college degree let alone a high school diploma. The article, The Future of the U.S. Workforce: The Limited Career Prospects for High School Graduates without Additional Education and Training, published by Achieve Inc. and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shows that there aren’t very many opportunities for those that are considered “unskilled.” Low skills jobs are those that are generally held by those possessing a high school diploma or equivalent, or no educational certificate at all. These jobs provide a median annual wage of between around 22,000 to 32,000 dollars and don’t allow for much room for advancement. More than three quarters of all jobs considered low skill are also not considered to have a “bright outlook,” meaning they are not projected to grow very much in the future (7-8). Education to occupation mismatch also plays a role in overall quality of life by causing less low skill jobs to be available to those who don’t possess much education as well as the increasing demands of education from employers. This is displayed by Richard J. Torraco and David W. Hamilton in their article, The Leaking U.S. Educational Pipeline and Its Implications for the Future, published in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, in which they write that only 36 percent if the 14 million new jobs expected to be created by 2018 will be available to those with just a high school diploma or equivalent, these jobs being ones on the lower end of the pay-scale. Education to occupation mismatch is also addressed with the point being made that due to a declining rate of education amongst the work force and a rising level of education needed to attain a more desirable job, a greater gap in the wealth of the elite and the general public will occur, poverty rates may increase, the standard of living may decrease as well as other things (Par. 6-10). The quality of life for those that minimally educated can suffer due to lack of job opportunities, lack of general job growth, and lack of advancement within a career.
Social class and education are directly correlated statistically with those with more education being able to possess a more secure life, more steady and well-paying work, and to advance in society more easily. Those who receive poorer educations are generally from lower income areas and have a sort of systematic oppression working against them. Without the proper preparation or expendable time and money, those from lower income backgrounds generally face an inability to advance socially because of their lack of education keeping them from attaining positions of power in society. Due to the lower income of those who have minimally education levels, when they get to the stage in life where their children would either begin work or begin college, the lower level of expendable money to help assist their children in paying for higher education keeps their children from pursuing higher-learning opportunities creating a cyclical trend of lower education among the children of those who didn’t pursue a university level education. This allows for minimal social mobility and lower wages for those in lower income areas.
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