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Wed Sep 19, 2012, 06:27 PM

Is poverty destiny? Ideology vs. evidence in school reform [View all]


At the center of the school reform debate is the role that poverty plays in student achievement, as explained well in the following post. It was written by Paul Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina. His newest book, “Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. — The Corporate Takeover of Public Education,” was recently published. A version of this post appeared on dailykos.com. This is long but worth the time.


The short answer, then, to whether or not poverty is destiny in the Unite States is “yes.” In fact, all categories of socioeconomic status in the United States are primarily static. In other words, the majority of people in the United States remain in the social class of their birth.

Poverty is destiny, and affluence is destiny in the United States. And these facts have almost nothing to do with the effort of anyone in those categories.


Why, then, do the ideological claims of “No Excuses” Reformers resonate with the public against the weight of evidence?

Sawhill and Morton show that the American public holds unique beliefs about equity that contrast significantly with most other countries. Americans disproportionately believe that the United States is a meritocracy (people are rewarded for intelligence, skill, and effort), but reject the notion that people need to start with privilege in order to succeed, that income inequity is too large, and that government should help alleviate opportunity inequities.

The whole article is long and fascinating but the bolded section (I bolded it) really caught my eye. Why, against all evidence, do Americans believe in magic merit dust? I've never felt like opportunity was just around the corner for me, but maybe I just grew up gloomy. And realistic...

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