Jan Resseger

The Disastrous Impact of Income Inequality on Education Policy

Our society continues to become increasingly segregated not only by race but also by income—with the rich living near each other in wealthy enclaves and the poor concentrated in intergenerational ghettos. Stanford University educational sociologist Sean Reardon documents that the proportion of families in major metropolitan areas living in either very poor or very affluent neighborhoods increased from 15 percent in 1970 to 33 percent by 2009, and the proportion of families living in middle income neighborhoods declined from 65 percent in 1970 to 42 percent in 2009. Reardon also demonstrates that along with growing residential inequality is a simultaneous jump in an "income-inequality school achievement gap" among children and adolescents. The achievement gap between students with income in the top ten percent and students with income in the bottom ten percent is 30-40 percent wider among children born in 2001 than those born in 1975, and is now twice as large as the black-white achievement gap.

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Governor Cuomo Pretends to Improve Schools; New York Times Condemns His Strategy

If you look carefully at the education crisis in the United States, here is what you will see. Our society tolerates an alarming child poverty rate well over 20 percent, among the highest among industrialized nations. On top of segregation by race and ethnicity, our society is experiencing rapid segregation by economics and isolation of the poor and the rich. This growing segregation by economics is mirrored by a widening income inequality achievement gap. A drop in state budgetary allocations for public education means that 30 states are spending less on public education than in 2007, before the great recession. Federal funding remains low for crucial programs like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; while it was promised that 40 percent of IDEA’s cost would be covered by the federal government, Congress now funds less than 20 percent.

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