By Tim Wolcott
There are two education systems in this state. Not public-private. One for the rich and one for the poor and they are both public systems.
--Andrew Cuomo, October 18, 2010
Children of the wealthy start out with major advantages over children of poverty, and the educational and social system within which we operate is organized to maintain that status quo. In their publication Education and Socio-Economic Status the American Psychological Association identifies economics status as a major determiner in the achievement of children. Unequal Opportunity = Unequal Results a report by the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York points out that wealthy school districts spend over $1700 per child more than poorer ones and their students do consistently better on all statistical measures. And despite the touting of individual school success and the mantra that all children can learn, statistics continue to show this economically created educational divide.
The problems that prevent people’s employment success have nothing to do with schooling and a great deal to do with the economic structure of our society.
"It's a very bad development. It's creating two societies. And it's based very much, I think, on educational differences. The unemployment rate we've been talking about. If you're a college graduate, unemployment is 5 percent. If you're a high school graduate, it's 10 percent or more. It's a very big difference. It leads to an unequal society, and a society which doesn't have the cohesion that we'd like to see."
-- Ben Bernanke, December, 6, 2010
Do you avoid talking about economic differences in the classroom? Here are some exemplary internmediate and up level books to share with students that will foster discussion of economic inequality:
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spindle
Tight Times by by Barbara Shook Hazen
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
The World is A Village by Shelagh Armstrong