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May 12, 2012
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June 3, 2012
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By Tim Wolcott

We are all told that through hard work and applied learning, public education is the elevator to social and financial success.  I believe not. 

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.

  1. For many people in America it is not a lack of education; it is the lack of decent jobs.
  2. Many well educated people are in jobs well below their abilities because that is all that is available.
  3. Many young people have oppressive college loans to pay off and may never be debt free.
  4.  The poorest people are concentrated in urban and rural pockets where funding is the lowest.

"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:

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

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

Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now
We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.


  1. Liz Manvell says:

    The public school funding system perpetuates socio-economic inequities, and limits opportunities for certain children, yet after years of exposing this disparity and various groups trying to change the system, it still prevails. It is a national shame mitigated only by the outstanding, dedicated, creative teachers who work in the poorer schools and make miracles.

  2. lizmanvell says:

    The public education funding system perpetuates socio-economic inequities, yet after years of various people and groups raising this issue and advocating change, the system still prevails. The disparities are mitigated only by the creative, dedicated, socially conscious teachers who give their all to their students and work miracles. Thank you for continuing to raise awareness of this national shame.

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