Reposted from the Economist:
Compared to those of days past, today’s elite are by and large more talented, better schooled, harder working (and more fabulously remunerated) and more diligent in its parental duties. It is not a place where one easily gets by on birth or connections alone. At the same time it is widely seen as increasingly hard to get into. Some self-perpetuation by elites is unavoidable; the children of America’s top dogs benefit from nepotism just as those in all other societies do. But something else is now afoot. More than ever before, America’s elite is producing children who not only get ahead, but deserve to do so: they meet the standards of meritocracy better than their peers, and are thus worthy of the status they inherit.
Part of the change is due to the increased opportunities for education and employment won by American women in the twentieth century. A larger pool of women enjoying academic and professional success, or at least showing early signs of doing so, has made it easier for pairs of young adults who will both excel to get together. Between 1960 and 2005 the share of men with university degrees who married women with university degrees nearly doubled, from 25% to 48%, and the change shows no sign of going into reverse. Assortative mating of this sort seems likely, on average, to reinforce the traits that bring the couple together. Though genes play a role in the variation of intelligence from person to person, this is not a crude genetic determinism. People tend to encourage in their children what they value in themselves and their partners. Thus people bought together by their education and status will typically deem such things important and do more to bring them out in their children, both deliberately and by lived example—processes in which nature and nurture are more than likely to work hand in hand.
Not only do graduate couples tend to value education; they also tend to have money to spend on it. And though the best predictor of an American child’s success in school has long been the parents’ educational level—a factor which graduates are already ahead on, by defintition—money is an increasingly important factor. According to Sean Reardon of Stanford the past decades have seen a growing correlation between parental income and children’s test scores. Sort the students who took the SAT, a test for college applicants, in 2014 by parental income and the results get steadily better the further up the ladder you climb.
Read a related article: America’s New Aristocracy.
Reposted from the New York Times:
The best escalator to opportunity in America is education. But a new study underscores that the escalator is broken. We expect each generation to do better, but, currently, more young American men have less education (29 percent) than their parents than have more education (20 percent). Among young Americans whose parents didn’t graduate from high school, only 5 percent make it through college themselves. In other rich countries, the figure is 23 percent.
The United States is devoting billions of dollars to compete with Russia militarily, but maybe we should try to compete educationally. Russia now has the largest percentage of adults with a university education of any industrialized country — a position once held by the United States, although we’re plunging in that roster. These figures come from the annual survey of education from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D., and it should be a shock to Americans.
A new Pew survey finds that Americans consider the greatest threat to our country to be the growing gap between the rich and poor. Yet we have constructed an education system, dependent on local property taxes, that provides great schools for the rich kids in the suburbs who need the least help, and broken, dangerous schools for inner-city children who desperately need a helping hand. Too often, America’s education system amplifies not opportunity but inequality.
Reposted from Edudemic:
When you have a fixed mindset, you believe that at a certain point, what you have is all you’re ever going to have: You’ll always have a set IQ. You’re only qualified for the career you majored in. You’ll never be any better at playing soccer or dating or taking risks. Your life and character are as certain as a map. The problem is, this mindset will make you complacent, rob your self-esteem and bring meaningful education to a halt. In short, it’s an intellectual disease and patently untrue.
If you’re regularly praised for your intelligence by a teacher or parent, for example, you internalize that praise. It becomes a part of your identity. You work to prove yourself over and over again in just one area. If you’re then criticized or discouraged when you fail, you also internalize that negative feedback and try to avoid it at all costs. When something threatens your competence, you let it threaten you. Rather than take risks and make moves to grow in your understanding – which might mean you get things wrong or that your intelligence is called into question – you defend against having to grow because it might mean you’ll fail.
The growth mindset is the opposite of the fixed: It thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth. It creates a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval. It seems like a mere platitude to say “If you believe you can do something, you can.” It’s not an easy belief because building practically any skill is hard. When setbacks, crushed expectations, and critics gather and compound, it’s much easier to ascribe ability to talent and give up. Dr. Carol Dweck, however, has found that the platitude is correct. Her research has shown a correlation between accepting intellectual limitations and actually learning more!
Reposted from the New York Times:
University Heights High School is on St. Anns Avenue in the South Bronx, which is part of the poorest congressional district in America, according to the Census Bureau. Six miles away is the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, with its arched stone entrance and celebrities’ children and $43,000-a-year tuition. Eight years ago, as part of a program called Classroom Connections, students from the schools began exchanging letters, which eventually led to a small group from University Heights visiting Fieldston for a day. “At the time in our school, these were tough street kids,” said Lisa Greenbaum, who has been teaching English literature at University Heights for 10 years. “They walked into Fieldston, and they were just overwhelmed. They couldn’t imagine that this was just minutes from where they lived, and they never even knew about it. One kid ran crying off campus. It made them so disheartened about their own circumstances.”
Over the next eight years, the two schools maintained their connection, groups of students meeting intermittently to talk about race relations, say, or gun violence, or to take a combined field trip to work on a community-garden project in Van Cortlandt Park. They most recently got together in early April to participate in an exercise in “radical empathy,” as it’s called by the group Narrative 4, which facilitates story exchanges between groups from all over the world.
Under the supervision of Narrative 4, the students paired off, one from each school, and shared stories that in some way defined them. When they gathered as a group a few hours later, each student was responsible for telling the other’s story, taking on the persona of his or her partner and telling the story in the first person (“shattering stereotypes by walking in each other’s shoes,” as one of the Narrative 4 facilitators put it).
Reposted from the Detroit News:
“Many young people in America today face a harsh reality. Their fate in life is determined by their ZIP code. For an overwhelming number of African Americans and other minorities, having the wrong ZIP code keeps you from a high school diploma, a college degree, and a future that offers you opportunities that match your talents. We are not assigned to certain grocery stores or restaurants based on our ZIP codes, which is why it makes no sense that between K-12, children are required to attend a school solely based on where they live.
The fact of the matter is that the high school graduation rate for African-American males nationally is just 52 percent; 26 percentage points below the national average of their white counterparts. In other words, more than half of all African-American children in America will never have the basic skills to compete in the 21st century workforce. Odds are many of those children will turn to crime, violence or drugs, causing problems for every single American who pays taxes or simply seeks to live in a society that allows people to realize their full potential. There is an obvious solution at hand to deal with this chronic crisis: educational choice.
I am passionate about school choice, because I have seen the difference a good school can make. Great education transforms lives and substandard education diminishes them. I want education that allows every child to meet his or her full potential, both for themselves and for their community. An athletic scholarship shouldn’t be a child’s best opportunity to receive an education. It is well past time that our elected officials enact common sense reform to save a generation of children from a fate they do not deserve.”