The correlation between socioeconomic status and student performance has been consistent for as long as records have been maintained. Students from affluent backgrounds tend to do better in school and on standardized tests than students from economically disadantaged backgrounds. In the following paragraphs, I would like to present two different ways of understanding this pattern. I believe that both socioeconomic and genetic phenomena can be best explained such a persistence of this trend.
First, we can present the biological phenomenon as a way of understanding the pattern.
In Schooling in Capitalist America by Bowles and Gintis, the authors stated that there has been a rival of the genetic interpretation of IQ scores. ‘An explanation of the failure of egalitarian is thus found in the immutability of genetic structure.'(Bowles and Gintis 22) According to the statistical studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and interpretation of the role of IQ in the structure of inequality has been elaborated. The conclusion drawn from the studies explain that the poor are poor due to their intellectual incompetence inherited form their poor and their intellectually deficient parents.
However, some of he statistical results of this investigation show that it is a mistake to relate one’s family background to socioeconomic differences in measured IQ. Despite the fact that there is a large increase in college enrollments, the probability of a high school graduate attending college is as dependent on parental socioeconomic status as it was thirty years ago. This suggests that the effect is not attributable to the genetic transmission of measured iQ while family background has an important effect on an individual’s future economic success.
Secondly, I would like to explain the trend by using examples in Ain’t No Makin’ It by Jay MacLeod. MacLeod points out that American education system’s curricular and evaluative criteria favor the interests of the upper class. To account for the problem of differential academic achievement, we should not totally put the emphasis on the children’s families. School also plays a very important role accounting for such a pattern correlated between socioeconomic statues and students’ academic performance. It is very crucial for the society to recognize the problem is not that lower class children are inferior. The genuine problem is that these lower class children are being evaluated by the definitions and the standards of the school as deficient or low achieving. For instance, in the interviews with a few high school children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the author found out that subtle class antagonism between students and teachers was at the toot of the problems in academic performance, conduct, truancy, and negative attitudes toward school. One of the Hallway Hangers, Slick, explicitly pointed out that the teachers do not understand their backgrounds.…but most of the teachers that are up there, a lot of them are too rich, y’know what I mean? They have money, and they don’t give a fuck about nobody. They don’t know how it’s like to hafta come to school late. I had to make sure my brother was in school. I had to make sure certain things–I had to make sure that there was breakfast…(MacLeod 85).
Individuals of different races. Interpersonal racism is usually irrational because it developed from preconceived notions and stereotypes instead of actual experience.(Nogera) Sometimes, racist individual has a negative experience with a person of another race and, from that one bad experience, concludes that all persons of that race must be bad. In the cirreculum of a common school, students have more chance to interact with people of different race and hopefully will correct the problem of racism. For example, you might have the notion that blacks never study and often perform below average academically because of your observation from a few black people. When you encounter more blacks and as you see that there are many who study hard and achieve good grades, your stereotype towards them could change positively.
‘Institutional racism is discriminatory behavior that is supported by institutions.'(Noguera) As an example of this is the ‘red zones’ on maps given to tourists in Miami I to indicates the ‘bad’ areas where the tourist should not go. Usually, these red zones are neighborhoods that are dominantly black and Latino; they are also usually poor areas. Red zone areas are usually ignored by the police or other law enforcement institutions. Instead of concerning with keeping crime levels down in these areas, these institutions will confine crime to these areas.(Noguera) Common school may not be able to completely eliminate institutional racism like the situation you see in red zones, but it raise awareness in students to this social problem. In an integreated school, there could be many who are from red zone neighborhoods or even ghettos; by putting students together in the same school could motivate them to help our in their community.
Although common schooling seems to be a good way to solve some of the social problems, but there are also many problem with this system of schooling. Other than facing interpersonal and institutional racism immigrants arriving in the United States are made to feel inferior in other ways. (Nogera) At school, ‘immigrant children are teased for their difficult-to-pronounce last names or for the way they look or talk.'(Nogera) Because of an inability to adapt to the dominant culture certain ethnic groups face economic and social handicaps.(Marger 142) It is usually a dilemma for immigrant to either to become Americanize to assimilate into mainstream or to preserve one’s own ethnic identity. African-Americans and other people of color sometimes associated academic success with ‘acting white.’ (Nogera) For example, there is the ‘English-only’ rule in some schools, by which student can be punished for speaking anything other than English in school. At this point, one might doubt the purpose of common schooling. If integrated school pressures minority students to be Americanize or to get into the mainstream, we can see some justification in the trend of decline in support for school desegregation.
Besides the pressure from the school itself, non-white students must deal with peer pressure to fit in with one’s ethnic group and thus fit the stereotypes of that group.(Nogera) For example, Latino students join gangs in search of a sense of belonging to a group; for the ones who do not want to be associated with gangs often ‘become white’, and must reject their Latino identity. (Nogera) This is the case because ….being in a gang is usually considered a ‘Latino thing,’ band is ‘a white thing,’ and basketball is ‘a black thing.'(Nogera) They are not encouraged in other areas that could give them a sense of group belonging, like music or sports, because each area is stereotyped as being the thing’ of a particular ethnic group.(Nogera) As you can see, tension start to rise when students begin to segregate within a integrated school.
Despite the minorities, white students, too, feel pressure to assimilate and conform. Some try to resist through nonconformist clothing and appearance, sometimes adopting the stereotypical style of dress of that racial group. ‘Wiggers,’ as they were called, are white people who dress and act like blacks to become one of them. Other white students turn to drugs as a means of rebellion against the mainstream. Here, too, there are racial overtones, as certain drugs become associated with certain ethnic groups. For example, crack cocaine is thought to be used mainly by poor blacks while powdered coke is thought to be the drug of wealthy whites.(Nogera)
‘When the integration effort began in earnest in the 1960s, the goal of integration was to equalize access to educational resources and thereby bring about greater equality and opportunity for all.'(Nogera) As many believes, ‘if the society as a whole cannot be integrated by law, it is thought, at least the schools can.'(Kirp 230) However, ever since 1980, segregation along racial lines has been receiving less support from both minorities and majority groups and once again rises.(Nogera) One explanation for this phenomenon is ‘white flight.’ As more African Americans or Latinos bus or move to traditionally white neighborhoods and schools, whites moved to other areas or removed their children
Lacing communication and understanding, most of the teachers do not seem to recognize the fact that some students are from single-parent family.
I believe that such a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and student performance can be explained by the so-called ‘standards and definitions’ that schools use as a tool to evaluate on students. As mentioned above, students are labeled and characterized in the minds of teachers and others as being of a certain type–high ability, low achieving, bright, dumb, and so on. Students are usually categorized into a certain group based solely on teachers’ subjective judgments. For instance, in the reading of The Urban School: A Factory for Failure by R. Rist, the author provided us explicit evidence on how the kindergarten kids were assigned to be seated. As one progressed from Table 1 to Table 2 and Table 3, there was an increasing dissimilarity from group to group on at least four major criteria.'(Rist 108)–Physical appearance, body odor, degree of ‘blackness’ of their skin, the condition of their hair, etc. For example, in table one were all dressed in clean and nicely ironed clothing; in table two, and with only one exception those at table three, were all poorly dressed. Teacher segregate students according to their socioeconomic backgrounds. As a result, students in table one are bright and do well academically, while students in table two and three are poor kids who are trouble makers and do bad in school.
The persistence of this trend tell us that the role of education in American society is to sort out the population for different economic roles in the labor market.(Nogera) One way to accomplish this is by the tracking system, in which schools group students in classes according to academic ability. Students in advanced standing classes will eventually go on to college, and those in lower tracked courses will not. Rich people have better chance in getting into higher tracked classes because
also will provide a lot of support for its children because education is valued. As a result, we end up with rich people dominating our society with little social mobility for the poor. As long as the rich people are in control of the American society, even with the help of education, there is little that can be done to help the poor or the lower class to improve their social standings. First of all, it is difficult for the poor to get a good education; secondly, even with a decent education background, you need connection to get into high positions in the major firms and institutions in our society.
Is school desegregation a strategy for promoting racial equality and improvements in race relations? If so, why is there an apparent decline in support for school desegregation among both majority and minority populations? To answer these questions, one must first define race precisely and explain the history of race relations in the United States.
Historically, ‘the essential biological meaning of race is a population of humans classified on the basis of certain hereditary characteristics that differentiate them from other human groups.'(Marger 135) Races are, basically, categories to classify people of different phenotypes or physical appearances. Originally, the human population was divided into three major racial groupings– Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid.(Marger 136) This is imprecise and arbitrary because there are large populations that do not fit into any of these categories.(Marger 136) However, as we analyze the development of race, these three racial groupings become important because it creates a racial hierarchy. It was always tied to the notion of superiority that certain groups are better than others. For example, in the United States, whites seems to be both the majority and a superior race. This kind of thinking not only influenced how people think about race, but it has also influenced laws in this country. For example, immigration quotas often give more quotas to the whites in Europe than the non-whites in Asia. In the case of educating children about race, common schooling can often give students better and wider perspective of the diversity that exists in out society. In an integrated school, we are putting different racial groups under an common institution. This kind of institution present a miniature model of the diverse society in the United States. Desegregated or integrated schools is able to provide an environment such that a diversity of people can interact with one another. We now see that common schools can improve racial relations by giving students a chance to be comfortable with people of different appearance, but schools can also help students understand race in a economical sense.
Even though race is defined by physical characteristics, it can also be a economical category. It is a way of determining who are the winners and who are the losers in our society. We use race to explain why some groups are on top, and why others on the bottom.(Nogera) From statistical reports, we often see than white people dominate top positions in major institutions and firms in America, and that blacks’ average income is substantially lower than whites. Through studies and analysis, we gain a better understanding of why socioeconomic stratification is highly correlated to race; but it is through common schooling that we can actually try to fix this social problem. Theoretically, integrated schools provide a place where everyone has an equal opportunity to learn and success both in school and in the future. Desegregated schools Integrated schools allow people of all races to obtain a decent education and possibly help mobilize people in the social ladder.
Despite the fact that common schooling can help people improve their social status, integrated schools serves as a mean to eliminate concepts another social problem–racism. Often times, ‘we utilize race to provide clues about who a person its.'(Omi and Wiant 150) For example, encountering someone who is mixed, or one that we easily racially categorize becomes a source of discomfort. (Omi and Wiant 150) Judging people on their race is what we called prejudice or racism. There are two levels of racism–interpersonal and institutional. Interpersonal racism occurs in the interaction of from increasingly black schools. ‘White flight’ has led to dramatic changes in racial composition of some neighborhoods and as a result, led to re-segregation of schools.
‘Common schools were regarded as the vehicles of social assimilation and development of a shared political cultures.’ ‘the common schools, it was said, would train a ‘homogeneous people, universally educated and imbued with the principles of morality and virtue.'(Kirp 236) However, we have seen situations where students are facing problem in common schools. There is no reason to eliminate integrated school because we have seen how it benefited us in the past, but as we see the decline in support for school desegregation, we have question ourselves is there a need to restructure American public education system.