Thursday, July 13, 2017

Education: The Great Leveler and the Great Divider

David Brooks had an tense (and some would say awkward) column in the New York Times last week.  It was called, How We Are Ruining America. 
Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.
He talks mostly about what means gives to upper-middle class families especially in terms of time and access.  He did have one interesting stat:
Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.
He is does bounce around a bit with his terms- which is confusing - saying things are worse for the middle class but making that sound like almost no one who went to college fits in that category.  Instead he calls out the "upper middle" class.

But his central premise is one that I recognize and have written about before AND it puts forth an even bigger question:
It’s when we turn to the next task — excluding other people’s children from the same opportunities — that things become morally dicey. Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

I was braced by Reeves’s book, but after speaking with him a few times about it, I’ve come to think the structural barriers he emphasizes are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.
But I don't think it's a 80-20 percentage divide.  I think there is more likely a 60-25-15 divide.  Meaning, the 60% of people who have not gone to college, the 25% who did but not to Ivy League schools and the 15% who have the most exclusive college experience and/or advanced degrees.

(The Census says that 33.4% of Americans 25 or older have a college degree.  By race, it's Asians, 55.9%, white Americans, 37%, black Americans, 23% and Hispanic Americans,  16.4%.)

Basically, it's what I call the code of the club of the educated (particularly the very well-educated). If you didn't grow up with money or parents who went to college but you yourself DID go to college, you probably know what I mean.

You know, the secret handshake that says, "I know this, do you?"  And it's not the "book learning" stuff - it's how you behave in a nice restaurant, what the words on the menu - frequently in another language - mean, it's where everyone went on their last vacation and you haven't a clue where that is, it's the sorority girls in their preppy chic, it's all those things that you learn to be in the club.

Brooks uses a terrible example of taking "a friend with only a high school degree to lunch" to a fancy sandwich shop and seeing her horrified face as she couldn't understand the menu. 
In her thorough book “The Sum of Small Things,” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues that the educated class establishes class barriers not through material consumption and wealth display but by establishing practices that can be accessed only by those who possess rarefied information.
We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible. The rest of America can’t name them, can’t understand them. They just know they’re there.
Because to be in the club means that you can somehow move up in the world, both socially and in the work world.  

So into the fray comes Robert Rondiscio of the Flypaper blog with his own thoughts on the Brooks essay.
Brooks, I think, confuses effects for causes. Mating, motherhood, and Middlebury are not the arenas where battles for opportunity are fought. They are the spoils of war accrued by those who’ve already won.
And here's where he (and I) come to that bigger question (bold mine):
There is, without question, a language of privilege in America that excludes those who do not speak it fluently. And unlike assortative mating, blood-sport parenting, and legacy admissions to the Ivy League, it is within our power as educators and policymakers to influence children’s acquisition of that language. But doing so will require a degree of clarity and candor to which we are unaccustomed when we talk about education. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., has long been making the social justice case for giving disadvantaged children access to the knowledge and language that have long been assumed by the privileged and powerful.
Hirsch’s project (the book Cultural Literacy)has been to inventory, to the degree possible, the mental furniture of the elites that Brooks sees hoarding privilege and opportunity, and to advocate for seeding their knowledge and language in every American classroom. This has long made Hirsch our best and truest voice for social justice in K–12 education.
So, if the language of power in this country cuts out many people - and this may be the impulse that got Trump to the presidency - should it be taught in schools and, if so, how?  

But:
But the idea that American schools should explicitly familiarize children—especially those from other countries, cultures, or traditions—with a uniform body of knowledge in elementary and middle school falls upon contemporary ears as awkward, anachronistic, even inappropriate. We are far more likely to honor or even revere a child’s home language, culture, and dialect. But we must seriously consider the possibility that this well-meaning impulse is quite wrong for all the right reasons.
He goes on:
Lisa Delpit, an African American literacy researcher and 1990 MacArthur grantee, has written persuasively for many years about the “culture of power” in American schools and classrooms.  

In her seminal essay, “The Silenced Dialogue,”she explains the implications of the culture of power:
This means that success in institutions—schools, workplaces, and so on—is predicated upon acquisition of the culture of those who are in power. Children from middle-class homes tend to do better in school than those from non-middle-class homes because the culture of the school is based on the culture of the upper and middle classes—of those in power. The upper and middle classes send their children to school with all the accouterments of the culture of power; children from other kinds of families operate within perfectly wonderful and viable cultures but not cultures that carry the codes or rules of power.
To say this is an uncomfortable topic among educators is to vastly understate things, especially among those who are earnestly committed to both progressive ideals and progressive pedagogy. “The Silenced Dialogue” and the book it spawned, Other People’s Children, are staples on the syllabus of teacher-education programs and spark heated debate and wounded egos.
This is big, big stuff.  While I applaud the idea of ethnic studies, this issue of what you need to know to operate well and with access to all areas of society should be part of that.

How to plan such a curriculum that operates both academically and with a social justice focus is a tremendously hard undertaking that must have buy-in from parents.  But how to do all of that?

From Ms. Delphit:
Many liberal educators hold that the primary goal for education is for children to become autonomous, to develop fully who they are in the classroom setting without having arbitrary, outside standards forced upon them. This is a very reasonable goal for people whose children are already participants in the culture of power and who have already internalized its codes.
   But parents who don’t function within that culture often want something else. It’s not that they disagree with the former aim, it’s just that they want something more. They want to ensure that the school provides their children with discourse patterns, interactional styles, and spoken and written language codes that will allow them success in the larger society.
I would call that intersectionality - how we blend and honor all the cultures of our country into the power structure.

However, we run up against this:
American education remains deeply reluctant to do this, since it requires overthrowing any number of traditions and practices—from child-centered pedagogies, assumptions about student engagement, and other progressive education ideals, to local control of curriculum, the privileging of skills over content, and the movement toward mass customization of education.
It cuts against the received wisdom of pedagogical and political fashion, but regardless of where one attends school, if we are serious about breaking down the social barriers to upward mobility, there should be far more similarities than differences in education in the United States, at least at the K–8 level. The promise of preparing children for academic achievement and upward mobility depends upon a base level of language proficiency. Foundational knowledge across the curriculum not only sets the stage for further independent exploration, it provides the basis for language proficiency—for communication, collaboration, and cooperation between and among disparate people.
Great points all because I perceive that if you don't have this come from the top and spread out to states, then, well, it's pretty much local cultural goals. In Seattle, we are a progressive city and I believe most parents would embrace the change if they are included in the process.  Would they in Spokane?  In Sarasota?  In Syracuse?  I don't know.

He also mentions a book that I highly recommend about the smartest senior, an African-American boy, at the worst high school in D.C. and his struggle to education. 
In 1994, Ron Suskind published A Hope in the Unseen, the story of a bright, ambitious young man from one of the worst high schools in Washington, D.C., who defies the odds to win acceptance at Brown University. The book became one of the touchstones of the education-reform movement because it appeared to demonstrate that demographics need not be destiny. You can grow up as dirt poor as its protagonist, Cedric Jennings, and still achieve at the highest levels academically—all the way to the Ivy League.
 He ends his essay:
There is a language of upward mobility in America. It has an expansive and nuanced vocabulary that it employs to nimbly navigate the world of organizations, institutions, and opportunities.

There is a language of power. It is the language of privileged parents, affluent communities, and elite universities. It’s the language of David Brooks. But he’d do well to recognize that you don’t learn that language in those places. They don’t let you in until or unless you demonstrate command of it.
From my own personal experience of going from a small and isolated border town to a private university in a huge city, I found that sometimes it was humiliating ("What's a Porsche?"), humbling, frustrating and exasperating (what did it matter what the brand of my clothing was if I was cute?).  I soon learned.

Going to Stanford to see my best friend, I learned her roommate was an heiress to the Philip Morris company.  There's another lesson -there's rich and there's wealthy.  As Chris Rock said, "Shaq is rich, the guy who signs his paycheck is wealthy."  Also, the first rule of wealth is...we don't talk about money. 

I was fortunate enough to be married to a guy who became incredibly well-educated and he, too, learned to move in much, much wealthier circles than how he was raised as an immigrant.  He took it on, as part of his role as a professor, to help his students understand how to navigate the world of power.  He never forgot where he came from and would never allow anyone to make him feel like less because he wasn't born to the manor.  It's just one of the many reasons I was so proud of him and why I miss him so much.

Thoughts about these essays and the way forward for the newly-minted resolution for ethnic studies?

53 comments:

NNE Mom said...

We do both. Kids are more likely to stay in school if they see themselves and their people and their histories reflected. And kids are more likely to be upwardly mobile if they come to understand the language of entrenched wealth/power. There's time and space for both in school.

Women also need to learn to communicate like men to make it into a lot of professional environments. But once you're in, then you can code switch. And once you're on the hiring committee, you can admit a wider spectrum into the fold.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend "Other People's Children"-I read it in grad school and still refer to it frequently. -TeacherMom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, "code switch" - one language for everyday life and the other for work.

Also NNE Mom, I like what you said but what about those who would say, "but we need to change the language of entrenched power?" I'm not sure I know how much schools can realistically do.

Thanks, TeacherMom, for the rec.

Anonymous said...

The best way to insure that your kid gets an utterly indistinguished education which reflects nothing unique about them is to have them in in standards based programs where everyone learns the same thing, Common Core, IB, etc. Do you ever hear of colleges talking about their curricula or adherence to standards? I guarantee you, they are not bragging about Core 48, nor about how they are keen to find excellent sheep who aced their standards based education... like everyone else. Privates will continue to outpace public ed so long as public schools are so fixated on standards. Making more and better standards is a

Losing Proposition

TechyMom said...

I went to a fancy prep school for part of my secondary education. They cared about standards in some areas, though they were quite different than common core. Writing well and frequently was stressed, as was reading both classics and important modern works. Grammar and standard essay forms were taught explicitly. PSAT and SAT scores mattered. Everyone could speak and write in a foreign language, and many seniors could read college level material and write an essay in their second language. Music, Art, Art History and sports were taught through high school. Girls learned math and programming, along with poise, diplomatic assertiveness and public speaking.

Even though I transferred to public school, I use those skills in the corporate world every single day. I recognize people of that class, and they recognize me. I can often tell which are natives of that world, and which, like me, are first generation. I assume that they can too. Class is real.

Those of you who remember my kindergarten search may remember how surprised I was that public schools didn't cover this material. That was a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Lots of strident statements there LP. However, I know, first hand, how much Universities appreciate excellent performance in public schools. The IB program is also especially respected. I've served on admissions committees. A variety of factors are taken into consideration including top notch performance over a broad academic spectrum. Specialized learning environments are not always the best preparation for the rigors of college. I've seen many students crash and burn at University when they have to play catch up in certain areas. And where did you get the idea that colleges do not talk about curricula? Faculty at Universities have a strong interest in providing a consistent educational foundation for all students.

Finally, all the educational opportunities that Techy Mom points out are available at our public high schools. The difference is that you have a choice whether to take advantage of them or not. They are not spoon fed to everyone. It takes more initiative to develop your skills in those areas in the public schools. Initiative can be an important area of training in and of itself.

-UniversityProfessor

Anonymous said...

Private schools will spout off student ITBS, SAT, ACT, and AP scores as a means of selling the school. While they may not be "learning the same thing" in lockstep, in a sense they are covering that undefined "same thing" that helps them achieve at high levels.

IB, while a rigid program, still has a good deal of flexibility when it comes to teaching language arts and history. It's more in line with the E.D. Hirsch ideals in that IB has a list of prescribed authors for literature and defined topics for history, but schools have flexibility in which of those authors they choose and which history subtopics they cover. If SPS would more closely adhere to IB standards, students could get a solid education. If students entered the program having had some explicit instruction in grammar and writing they could truly excel. After years of anything goes curriculum in SPS, some may find the IB curriculum - when delivered as designed - to be a breath of fresh air.

-jmp

Anonymous said...

Proff, I've done extensive college search and I'm just reporting what the reality that I've found. Brown, Tufts, other east coast notable universities taut their open, self directed educations, free of standards. This is in stark contrast to the evolving lockstep adherence to curricula in our public schools at the high school level and below. Yale told us that nobody gets excited about 800s on SATs, they're looking for something more to distinguish the applicant. (Hard to believe that claim.) The fact is the more there's a Core 24, which is THE upcoming standard, the smaller the availability of anything else, and the lower the ways for many students to distinguish themselves. Disadvantaged student status will be exacerbated. Our IB program is not sending students to competitive schools. If UW is your destination, then you don't really need IB. And certainly no college anywhere cares about whether or not a student bothers with all the requirements of the IB "diploma". Simply a fact. Not sure why it's strident to make observations.

LP

Anonymous said...

"Our IB program is not sending students to competitive schools. If UW is your destination, then you don't really need IB."

1) College choice is a function of family finances as well. If you are in public school and your family was unable to afford private, but you do not qualify as low income, you may not be considering highly competitive schools that offer limited merit based aid.
2) There are competitive programs within colleges and universities that offer generous merit scholarships. Yale may not get excited about 800s on SATs because that is just baseline, right? They are looking for something more, on top of stellar grades and test scores.
3) What lockstep adherence to curricula?? Where is that happening in SPS? There is a general lack of a coherent, sequential curriculum or oversight to ensure adequate coverage of state standards. They are just now adopting K-5 LA materials. Math may be the one subject with standards that teachers attempt to cover comprehensively. The one SAT section that kept my child from nearly acing the SATs? Standard English conventions - what should be the easiest section on the test. It's testing basic grammar and writing conventions that simply haven't been taught in SPS, but are second nature to those who have had basic grammar and writing instruction K-8.
4) Some students simply want to be challenged through high school, even if their ultimate goal is not entry into the most competitive colleges or programs. IB and AP courses offer challenge that students may not otherwise get within the public schools.

another perspective

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is a good discussion but just to note, these articles are not about curriculum per se, but about all the nuances of the language of power.

But Techy Mom leans into the idea of what is/was considered a classic Western Civilization education:

"Grammar and standard essay forms were taught explicitly. PSAT and SAT scores mattered. Everyone could speak and write in a foreign language, and many seniors could read college level material and write an essay in their second language. Music, Art, Art History and sports were taught through high school. Girls learned math and programming, along with poise, diplomatic assertiveness and public speaking."

All of that allows you the ability to move in power circles (not to mention getting all the jokes on a show like Fraser).

I would also say that ignoring writing conventions -beyond the 5-paragraph essay - hurts kids. For expressive writing, ignoring them is fine but in the language of business and law, it still matters. (In fact, I'm looking into the current charter school law where I have found the word "and" in one key phrase in one place but later in that section that "and" is gone. I think it may be of import and I'll let you know. Words - and how they are phrased - have meaning).

Michael Rice said...

Losing Proposition wrote: Our IB program is not sending students to competitive schools. If UW is your destination, then you don't really need IB. And certainly no college anywhere cares about whether or not a student bothers with all the requirements of the IB "diploma". Simply a fact.

As a teacher of AP Statistics, I fully realize what I have is only anecdotal evidence and cannot be inferred onto a larger population, but it is all I have.

At Ingraham, nothing could be further from the truth. Here is a brief list of the colleges and universities IB students have gotten into in the past couple of years: Tulane, Stanford, UW Honors, Occidental, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech, Lewis & Clark, Loyola (N.O.), Whitman, Tufts, Fordham, Chapman, Reed, Scripts, Purdue, Northwestern, Arizona State Honors, Vassar, Middlebury, Washington University and Smith. This is by no means a complete list.

Schools that students have turned down over the past couple of years include Brown, Harvard and Cornell.

I don’t know the reason why these students were accepted to these schools, but I know that having the IB Diploma played a large part in their acceptance to these schools.

My students come back to tell me how well the IB Diploma prepared for the rigors of these demanding schools and how set up for success they feel. They especially feel that their ability to think and write critically put them on strong ground to be successful. Those two things are two of the things IB does best and are “real life” skills that will serve the students well as they become adults.

PJM said...

I'm trying to translate how you would teach the language and culture of the powerful so that everyone can act like an upper middle class educated person. I start to reflect on Seuss' The Snitches and the constant effort of one group to emulate another group to gain power and the copied group to find new ways to "hoard power" through cultural signals. Then I think about what that curriculum looks like. Trying not to be too snarky, but do we teach middle schools about the nuances of how to order a latte and make sure that they know what a ristretto shot is? Force feed them NPR and learn to pronounce every Spanish surname with the original accent (in vocal fry of course)?

Before all this "Dream Hoarders" conversation, I've had these thoughts about how we try to treat education as a scarce resource (like money or gold or land) as a way to reinforce social hierarchies. I've read the wonderful Robert Sapolsky of Stanford (whose autobiography of My Life as a Primate documents his field work studying Baboon behavior in East Africa and it's relationship to body chemistry) and when you look at a cousin species, it provides such clarity on our own hierarchy seeking behaviors. An interesting story though, and one that gives hope to creating a more egalitarian society: he studied a group of baboons for many years where there was a strict, violently enforced hierarchy. At one point the dominant males were decimated and the resulting "culture" of the group radically changed. The hierarchy flattened substantially, they groomed each other and they even resisted the re-introduction of aggressive behaviors by outside males coming in. Our societies likewise show an amazing degree of plasticity in how much hoarding is done, how strict the hierarchies are. We can change. But we need to remember that the human-primate tendency is, like the Snitches, to create differences and hoard stars.

PJM

Anonymous said...

Yes Michael, awesome 2nd tier schools (except for 1 at Stanford). And students can truly be well educated at these places. But this post was about divide, presumably between the top tier and elsewhere. I have no doubt that many IB classes serve students well, but the diploma itself, not so much.

As to the excuse of lack of funding for education. It truly is an excuse. Every Ivy covers 100% documented need, as does every institution I visited. Many colleges are actually free, and provided many extras to highly qualified students. If students aren't going to top schools, it's because they either don't want o (not believable). or they weren't admitted. You can check all of that in naviance

LP

Joe Wolf said...

Smith is a second tier school? Really?

Joe Wolf said...

Also: Tufts, Occidental, Scripps. Your tiering alhorithm is at least a decade out of date.

Anonymous said...

According to the Brooks article, Reeves said: It’s when we turn to the next task — excluding other people’s children from the same opportunities — that things become morally dicey. Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

The first part of his argument is pretty obvious, that those with the means have the means to do things that give their kids a leg up--better childcare, more money spent on education, etc. But how exactly are "we" doing this second part? What are some examples of how we're "hoarding dreams" ? He mentioned "housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities," and I know we had issues with racial restrictive covenants in the past, but not anymore, do we? He also mentions legacy admissions to colleges, but that really applies only to a small segment of people--much smaller than the "educated class" as a whole, and plenty of people get into colleges without having legacy connections. You don't need an ivy school to succeed, and those legacy rules have little impact on my children's chance of a college education. So what sort of things are people really talking about that "we" are doing to "exclude" others and "rig the system"?

Brooks mentioned the potentially more important cultural barriers. American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.” Then he gives that sandwich shop example. Really? I didn't grow up upper middle class, but I can handle myself in a restaurant with some foreign names, and the same is true for most people I know. As diversity has increased, so too have our dining options. My parents grew up in rural communities and didn't have a lot of money or education (high school degrees), and there weren't any restaurants with fancy foods around...then. But now there are. Times have changes, and we are all exposed to a lot more. Some of it will be new, and confusing, but isn't that one of the good things about increased diversity?

Culinary Adventure-seeker

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
Thank you for your thoughtful discourse.

You have gently walked a line here, putting out both information and open-ended editorial.

Privilege is as complex, as thorny, as difficult, as civil inequality is as painful, shameful and compelling.

There are no easy answers, but there is lots of controversy and differing view points and values and priorities.


Harium Martin-Morris once said in a meeting about how respect what a fundamental cultural touchstone for the African American community (and I thought, isn't it for all communities?).

He talked about watching a young AA male in math class in high school slouching in his seat, legs sprawled out, and wearing a baseball cap that obscured his eyes and faces. The teacher called to him to please sit up and shift his cap (not remove it). Martin-Morris did not say she was being rude or had a 'tone' or picked on him for nefarious reasons, he implied that any student sitting thusly would have been asked to sit up and appear to follow along with the math direct instruction she was giving. But, Martin-Morris used this example to say there was a cultural disconnect, because the young man would have felt disrespected by his teachers request, and, in this student's African American culture, that was huge. Martin-Morris was proffering cultural sensitivity training. Not a bad idea, definitely that type of training is important as it is important for all teachers to understand and appreciate and value the diversity of cultures in our schools, so they can better reach students to support, nurture and grow them.

I listened and said nothing. But, I was thinking, what would Martin-Morris suggest in practical terms for this teacher to do in that moment? Let it go? Is that not low/different expectations? Do we want different expectations for different students? What about the other high school students, white and Asian, in that class, should they learn there are different expectations based on... what?

If this young man goes to a college interview and 'appears' aloof, not listening... or, to an interview at IBM, and presents with the same posture, then what? Shouldn't he be allowed to learn about standard cultural norms (not 'white norms) about engaging? If he was in China or Chile, engagement is underpinned with the same key ingredients.

There is nuance here between sensitivity and political correctness. It is extremely difficult to parse, and, open conversations leave sincere and sensitive yet non-minorities at risk for being called racist. That was why I kept my mouth shut with Harium. But, really, I was thinking that teacher was reaching out and trying to help that young person succeed. And, if respect is a big thing, should perhaps he be offering it too to a teacher?


Silent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I know we had issues with racial restrictive covenants in the past, but not anymore, do we? "

Well, they are now illegal but the sins of the past still exist because of that redlining and excluding. It's the main reason this city is so segregated (and therefore the schools).

Culinary Adventure-seeker, I see your points and I agree that it is indeed possible to learn and grasp all these nuances especially if you go to college. But I also think there are cultural differences that if you don't know what it is to move in the more privileged world, you will miss out and miss opportunities.

Silent, great thoughts and I agree. Where is the line between what a teacher's expectations are of behavior in their class and lack of cultural understanding. I believe teachers DO have the right to lay out their expectations and back them up (and hopefully after some cultural sensitivity training).

And that issue of respect? Huge and who really gets to decide? That takes leadership.

Anonymous said...

Joe, again I'm not saying any of those schools are bad . But Scripps ain't Harvard, and Occidental ain't Yale. They are far, far less competitive. Let's not kid ourselves. I've been to both this year. So no, quite up to date. They are fine schools. Second tier isn't bad, you can surely be educated there. Again, we're talking about top tiers, tiers themselves, and the the things that segment us. You can bet your last dollar that kids are shooting for that top tier, and would gladly accept a spot if offered. 35,000 apply to Harvard, 3,000 apply to Scripps and about a third are admitted.

LP

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would say, LP, that it depends on what you mean by "competitive." I think Scripps is very competitive but doesn't have the legacy/brand-name competitiveness of Yale or Harvard.

"You can surely be educated there." Yikes!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Scripps takes 30% of its applicants. Harvard takes 6%. Average SAT score for admissions at Scripps is 1430. 1525 at Harvard. Harvard is older, produces more research, more access to jobs, higher paying jobs, an alumni network. It has huge name recognition. The 2 are not in the same league at any level. That's what I mean by more competitive. Harvard is much more selective and it is much harder to get into. Those are simply the facts. Doesn't mean Scripps is bad. No need to Yikes.

LP

Anonymous said...

Melissa wrote:
Basically, it's what I call the code of the club of the educated (particularly the very well-educated). If you didn't grow up with money or parents who went to college but you yourself DID go to college, you probably know what I mean.... You know, the secret handshake that says, "I know this, do you?" And it's not the "book learning" stuff - it's how you behave in a nice restaurant, what the words on the menu - frequently in another language - mean, it's where everyone went on their last vacation and you haven't a clue where that is, it's the sorority girls in their preppy chic, it's all those things that you learn to be in the club.

David Brooks wrote:
In her thorough book “The Sum of Small Things,” Elizabeth Currid-Halkett argues that the educated class establishes class barriers not through material consumption and wealth display but by establishing practices that can be accessed only by those who possess rarefied information.... To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.

This all seems, to me, too extreme. I get that there are things that are culturally accessible or not, but this all sounds like worries about winning a popularity contest. Who went where on vacation? Who has which fancy brands? Barre techniques and pilates? These things really matter? I suppose it's possible I've lost some opportunities because my tastes are simple (the right wine? red!) and my vacations aren't exotic and my car is old and I don't have a fancy gym membership, but I can't imagine I've missed out very much because of those things. Those things have never come up in job interviews, and I'd be hard-pressed to tell you how most of my friends would respond to each issue if asked. I feel like the authors are talking about a very small segment of the population--the economic elite, not necessarily the much larger and broader and more diverse "educated class."

My parents did not go to college, and we did not have much money. We lived in a small, working class, conservative-leaning community. My spouse grew up poor in an immigrant family. We both went to college at top-ranked schools, got masters degrees. We didn't feel like there were "secret handshakes" or that we didn't belong for not having or knowing the right things. I assume there were SOME people who regarded those things as important--some who had them, some who didn't and thus felt excluded--but I wasn't really interested in hanging out with people that shallow. There will always be people with more money, more status, etc, and yes, they may have more power as a result. However, the arguments that I'm seeing in these articles seem a little over-the-top--extremes examples that (a) seem trivial, and (b) don't seem to apply to many people. If the "practices that can only be accessed by those who possess rarified information" concern things like barre and pilates and exotic vacation destinations, is it really that big of a deal if most of us can't access them?

too extreme

Anonymous said...

From the original post, There is, without question, a language of privilege in America that excludes those who do not speak it fluently. And...it is within our power as educators and policymakers to influence children’s acquisition of that language. But doing so will require a degree of clarity and candor to which we are unaccustomed when we talk about education. E.D. Hirsch, Jr., has long been making the social justice case for giving disadvantaged children access to the knowledge and language that have long been assumed by the privileged and powerful. Hirsch’s project (the book Cultural Literacy) has been to inventory, to the degree possible, the mental furniture of the elites that Brooks sees hoarding privilege and opportunity, and to advocate for seeding their knowledge and language in every American classroom. This has long made Hirsch our best and truest voice for social justice in K–12 education.

"Making the social justice case for giving disadvantaged children access to the knowledge and language that have long been assumed by the privileged and powerful"? If you look at Hirsch's work, what it really looks like is a solid educational foundation. The sort of material included in his appendix--the "things every American must know"--are not things that were "assumed" by the privileged and need to be "given" to the disadvantaged. Rather, they are a solid foundation in history and literature and the like. They are the result of education, and I suspect that, in reality, many of the "privileged and powerful" who were assumed to just get this information via osmosis or something AREN'T actually all that knowledgable on these subjects, either.

In many ways, it's an argument for getting back to basics, but with a twist--that we add in perspectives of non-whites, in our history books and literature selections and the like. We still need to teach a lot of the dead white guy history and literature to help establish the foundation and help people understand the roots of our current society, but we can make it much richer by including other viewpoints, and we also need to include some issues that are more current, evolving. However, how do we do this? Our schools often haven't done a great job at teaching even the limited material they've tried to teach, so the idea that we would have any more luck trying to teach a broad and deep canon that covers everything someone needs to know to be culturally literate seems far-fetched.

I'm not arguing against making historical and cultural references and motifs accessible to all, but I have a hard time seeing how exactly we'd go about teaching this "language of power." It's not like just reading the list would do the trick--you need the background knowledge, too. The language of power is a solid education. It involves extensive and wide reading. There's not some sort of conspiracy going on to intentionally keep this sort of that this information from disadvantaged groups, who have access to the same classes as everyone else. Yes, some schools and some districts are better than others, but they all attempt to cover the basics. Rather than worrying so much about "teaching the language of power" to people, it seems like we'd be better off focusing on just doing a decent job of teaching the basics for a change, supplementing the "basics" with some more well-rounded perspectives.

Culinary Adventur-seeker

Yalie said...

@too extreme

agreed. things are more fluid. I did go to Yale. About 1/2 my classmates were more like you (as was I) and 1/2 were part of a real elite with prep school backgrounds and storied families. By the end of 4 years, people really blended together and even years later at reunions it's the same. We do not have a caste system here. Even if it was part of a PC piety, students liked the narrative of inclusiveness and social mobility and many friendships bridged different backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

@LP "As to the excuse of lack of funding for education. It truly is an excuse. Every Ivy covers 100% documented need, as does every institution I visited. Many colleges are actually free, and provided many extras to highly qualified students. If students aren't going to top schools, it's because they either don't want o (not believable). or they weren't admitted."

This statement goes against what a friend have told me about her child being admitted to top schools this year. They turned down offers due to high cost & she told me other parents did the same.

Stanford offers full aid I believe for those making under $120,000. But that is not the norm for most top schools. I have done the calculators online for multiple schools and many mentioned do not offer that much aid except maybe in loans.

Many of us seek to avoid huge debt as not everyone believes the super huge debt is worth it even with an Ivy/top school diploma.

Spending 30-50,000 per year on tuition room and board when you only make around $120,000 or so per year is alot of money. Many cannot afford what the calculators state should be the family contribution. Especially for many who live in high cost Seattle.
-KL

Outsider said...

I would echo "too extreme." All those exotic cultural signifiers mostly serve as a substitute for real competence. They definitely help the born-rich class cling to privileged positions, but if you weren't born rich, you would be a thousand times better off to acquire actual competence than to learn about artisinal cold-cuts. Anyone who experiences social mobility has to learn stuff, but it's not that hard.

Brooks writes that "I’ve come to think the structural barriers he emphasizes are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent." That's idiotic. David Brooks has a long history of being an apologist for the elites, and the essay in question is so ridiculous, the conspiratorially minded (me) might be tempted to think it's deliberate misdirection. Sure, just teach the proles about artisinal cold-cuts and everything will be fine. Not.

I'll say what I always say -- the number one tool used by the five percent to prevent social mobility is de-tracking and dumbing down the public schools. That way, any students who depend on them (except in million dollar places like Mercer Island and Bellevue, or if they can get a "gifted" label) are taken out of the game.

Melissa Westbrook said...

LP, I said "yikes" b/c I think your comment was snobby, sorry.

I think there is some misunderstanding about the secret handshake - you don't need to buy into all of it at a basic level. But it's an opening gambit to many intros. Ask any black person about " you're so articulate." To me, it's "can you roll with us?"

Anonymous said...

@ Too Extreme & Yalie-- O.K a counter to your experiences. My husband grew up in a multi-generational poor household. He did attempt college but dropped out of a private college as he had no encouragement from home and no clue what he wanted to do. He also said he felt very aliented by his peers in college, aware he did not fit in when he was young. He later went back and earned a degree from a state college. Still being self aware of not totally fitting in with more affluent students whose parents were professionals etc.

I was also a first generation college student. I felt alienated (at times) around affluent peers in college who were much more articulate, had parents and grandparents who went to college etc. Add to the mix a non standard American English accent that is also associated with a lower class in America.

I ended up earning a graduate degree and learning the "culture" to fit in somewhat along the way. However, even now at times I am acutely aware of being different in many ways from those who come from generations of privilege and educational legacy. One example, these folks have more confidence, take more risks with money, feel comfortable taking on huge debt for college etc.

I don't think Brooks piece is "too extreme". I also don't think cultural capital is "easy to pick up" like someone else mentioned.

But then again it likely depends alot upon the individual and other aspects of someone's background.
-another perspective

Anonymous said...

And what about my friend who spent a bunch of money sending multiple kids to ASB, Blanchett and one to Lakeside and so far they have been happily college educated at UW...? I assume they will save Stanford for when it matters: grad school.

Get Real

Anonymous said...

@ another perspective, we a fellel alienated at times, particularly when we're trying something different. "Not totally fitting in with more affluent students" doesn't strike me as a huge problem, since in the college setting--especially a state school--there are also non-affluent students, and more importantly, there are plenty of ways to distinguish oneself (e.g., through academic performance.) Now if the more affluent students somehow control all the opportunities and drive the curriculum and the professors cater to their presumed background/experience/interests/etc., that would be very problematic. But I doubt that was the case.

"Not totally fitting in" or sometimes feeling alienated seem, to me, to be natural by-products of a multicultural, diverse society. When I'm at a party with my queer friends, I don't totally fit in. When I'm with my wealthy colleagues, I don't totally fit in. When I'm with my racist neighbors and long-time family friends, I don't totally fit in. When I meet other moms at the school for coffee, I don't totally fit in for a variety of reasons. You get the idea. I have found very few people in this world with whom I totally fit in--people who really understand and accept most of the myriad and sometimes conflicting aspects of my background, beliefs, status, etc. Sometimes I think it would be great to find someone who "got" me fully and completely, but then again, that probably would be boring--like spending more time with myself.

My point is, the goal shouldn't be for everyone to always fit in. Diversity means there will be differences. Differences mean we might sometimes feel out of place. Differences also mean we sometimes have to learn a new "culture" to fit in or succeed, but that's true in many different areas of life.

I agree that "cultural capital" isn't always easy to pick up, but it also isn't easy to teach it. The idea that some people need to stop hoarding that knowledge and we need to share it with others is silly (to me). We learn through experience. Brooks had an opportunity to help his friend obtain a little bit of that via the fancy deli, but instead he seemed to validate their fear that they didn't belong there and asked if they wanted to go somewhere more in their comfort zone. That's sad to me. Surely there's an easy way to brush off someone's lack of knowledge about something in a way that makes them feel ok, even excited to try something new. I think Brooks did his friend a disservice, and reinforced the divide.

Too Extreme

Outsider said...

Brooks writes:

"Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat."

Also

"To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality."

The first statement is very important; the second is nonsense. It's easy to get lost when discussing such an incoherent primary source.

The first statement is important, because the rich are buying their way out of public schools, where first-rate education is no longer much available. The rich are more articulate because they are better educated. They have confidence with money because they have a lot. None of this has anything to do with barre or Pilates. (I don't even know what barre is and don't care either.)

Rondiscio writes:

"There is a language of power. It is the language of privileged parents, affluent communities, and elite universities. It’s the language of David Brooks. But he’d do well to recognize that you don’t learn that language in those places. They don’t let you in until or unless you demonstrate command of it."

This is just wrong. When you give public school students a shot at truly first-rate education, at schools like Boston Latin and Stuyvesant, elite colleges gobble them up. But when you limit public school students to "honors for all," the elite colleges hesitate.

There is such a thing as the language of power, but it has nothing to do with food trucks or green tea. It's the language of institutional science, economists, lawyers, business schools, think tanks, and all the so-called journalists who suck up to them. It's not hard to learn if you have access to good education (which admittedly most people don't.) For people of modest origin who do luck into a good education, I think the biggest barrier to the language of power is ethical rather than cognitive. A lot of it is evil. If you come from modest origins, it's painful to hear yourself talking that way, until the costs of children and the mortgage force you to put your soul in the bottom of your sock drawer and get on with it.

I also think one real reason why the language of power has become so ruthless in the last generation is precisely that detracking public schools took public school kids out of the game and left primarily rich kids talking the language of power to each other.

Anonymous said...

(It's Robert Pondiscio, with a P.)

Anonymous said...

@Too extreme-- "
@ another perspective, we a feel alienated at times, particularly when we're trying something different. "Not totally fitting in with more affluent students" doesn't strike me as a huge problem...".

I agree feeling aliented at times is part of life. It is also good as it helps us learn more about other cultures and understand our own cultural. If we did not come in contact with others who were different we would not grow as people.

I read a great book in college entitled "Choosing Colleges" by McDonough. It highlights how people choose various colleges (elite, state, etc etc) based upon their class & background and talks about cultural capital etc.

Perhaps instead of teaching "the culture of the elite", we teach students more about identifying how people of various socieconomic backgrounds make decisions, experience the world etc. People are learning about racial differences in experience. However, seldom do we talk about class. This can be invisible in the classrooms unlike race, unless we talk about it.

-another perspective

Anonymous said...

The so called "language of power" can be found in books. Read them.

-Seriously?

Jet City mom said...

"Only" $120,000.
Good lord, are you serious?

Anonymous said...

@Jet City mom-- Yes, Standford offers full tuition aid for those families making 120,000 gross or under. It is generous.

However, other elite schools that are 50-60,000 per year (including room & board) do not offer full tuition to those in that category.

However, if a family is making a low six figure gross and living in Seattle with the high cost of housing etc. many cannot afford to pay 1/3-1/2 their total gross income per year for college. That was my point. Seattle is very expensive place.
-KL

Anonymous said...

@ Jet City Mom- I don't understand your surprise unless you did not understand my comment fully. A family of 4 making $120,000 in the Seattle metro area is considered "middle class" in the US. See this calculator: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/05/11/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/

My point was that many students may be gaining admission to elite/ivy colleges from public schools in Seattle, but they are not offered aid packages that are realistic to attend. Another person on this thread stated that if offered admission these elite schools cover "all need". In loans maybe yes, however that is not the case as far as true affordability for those who want to avoid large debt. These schools (35-60,000 after aid) are still very expensive even to middle class families.
-KL

Anonymous said...

Your point KL, and the whining of others lamenting costs as an excuse for SPS poor showing in tier 1 universities and other elite schools, is ridiculous. Harvard gives an AVERAGE grant of 50 grand to about 60% of its freshman. In the second tier, Smith gives an AVERAGE grant of 40 grand to over 60% of freshmen. That's average, and that's grants, not loans. College has never been more accessible, if you can get in. Sure, if you're admitted, you're going to have to pay something. Bernie didn't win. But less than you would have paid at UW. Let's face it. The poverty cries are the thing that is woefully outdated. Students aren't getting in. I don't know much about third and forth tiers. No doubt, many lesser colleges can't pay all of your demonstrated need. But, less selective colleges provide academic scholarships. Why? Because they have to.

LP

Anonymous said...

"Students aren't getting in."

When you are talking about colleges with acceptance rates of 5-6% (Harvard, Stanford, Yale,..), what do you expect? Assuming every single student in the top 10% of Grade 12 SPS students (350 out of some 3500 total?) applied to a highly selective school, at most 5% of those top 10% are likely to be admitted. That's 15-20 students, tops, districtwide. But not all qualified students even apply.

numbers check

Anonymous said...

The discussion sidetracked into college tuition... getting back to what it takes to restoring the promise of having public education be a ladder for those at the 'bottom' to reach up and succeed, and Melissa's points about the intersection of a 'dominant culture' with persons from a culturally diverse background, here is a very compelling read:

Youth From Every Quarter: A teacher at an elite boarding school confronts her own confused leap up the ladder of class privilege.
https://longreads.com/2017/07/17/youth-from-every-quarter/

A story of a bright Latino girl, a sophomore, who got a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school for a summer school residency, who flamed out. She was ill-prepared to take advantage of this opportunity both academically AND socially. The author, a teacher from a similar yet different background, ponders what she could have done differently to have advocated and mentored this child. The privileged Dean of the schools comes off as a horribly irresponsible or blind or clueless educator at best, or a cruel or ignorant or racist at worst.

Takeaways: scholastic ‘good intentions’ (like Honors for All) do not help anybody succeed, and, bright students from the most culturally diverse groups need extra help to get their footing. That extra support is the type of intervention that will make the most difference in a young person’s life, not pretending that every student is getting honors, or, smashing ability-based grouping for supposedly being racist. Those 2 things might make liberals feel good, but, they will not do anything to change the direction of the conveyor belt away from the school-to-prison pipeline.

5 Articles

Anonymous said...

Evidently IB and App (presumably) aren't doing it either since none of them even got into those top tier schools either. Eg 0. What should we expect? Students in the top 1% should be a slam dunk for schools that admit the top 5%. After all, anyone can and does apply. Check numbers should check a little further. Most likely because of white/Asian privilege. Ivies are looking to diversify in a big way. All white and Asian programs filled with students taking the same classes doesn't achieve that objective. Honors for all is more likely to produce opportunities for minorities that colleges are really looking for.

LP

Sandy said...

In his 1983 Class: A guide through the American status system, sociologist F. Fussell discusses the pernicious effects of long-term resentment and says, "Pushed far enough, envy results in revenge egalitarianism" (page 102).

"Revenge egalitarianism" is a pretty apt description of some of the troubles we have in Seattle public schools.

Anonymous said...

@ LP, I think YOU need to check your numbers a little further. The top 1% (of students in the nation) is going to be a bigger number than the top 5% who apply to any given elite school. Yes, anyone can apply--but no, not everyone does. Not even close.

I'm not sure how you made that leap to white/Asian privilege, but I assume what you're trying to argue is that honors, AP and IB classes have low percentages of minorities, so elite colleges aren't valuing them and that's why SPS HCC students apparently (?) aren't being admitted at high rates. Is that what you were trying to say? If so, who, then, IS getting into those elite schools? SPS minority students who didn't take AP/IB/honors classes? Or not SPS students, but students from other school districts--districts that don't have a lot of white and Asian students in their honors/AP/IB classes, wherever such districts are...

unclear

Anonymous said...

"If so, who, then, IS getting into those elite schools?"

A significant number have attended private schools. About 10% of US students attend private schools, yet about 40% of Yale and Harvard students attended a private high school. No surprise there.

numbers check

Anonymous said...

Check Numbers, have you been on any Ivy tours or informationals? From your questions, it seems like not. I'm an ordinary schmo whose kid is trying to get into a tier 1 or tier 2 school. UW is a fine backup. About half of those applying to ivies are Asian. Asians aren't going to be half the freshman class at any school. My Asian friends feel that their ethnicity is a disadvantage. I would agree. Few disadvantaged minorities are touring, and showing interest. Given that every single school on the planet values a balanced class, disadvantaged minorities are going to be highly sought. Uh gee. None exist in some programs in our district, darn.

Unclear, I'm just noting facts. Facts. I don't know the quality of applicants to any school. I can guess that your typical Ivy gets around 1000 applications from WA, and they come from everywhere.

LP

Anonymous said...

@LP
Wait, "white/Asian privilege"?

What is that? Does it include those who are poor, brown, ELL immigrant, and yet privileged? Racism can be that selective? What is the consensus re: " PoC", Person of Color, who does it refer to? Trying to understand what exactly this means.

Are you referring to educational attainment?

US Census, of the 199 million adults 25 and older, 28% have bachelor's degrees.

Group pop % w/degree
Asian 10mil 50%
White 154 mil 29%
2 or more races 3mil 25%
Black or AA 23 mil 18%

Every one of those degrees is obtained with hard work:
“Most of our parents don’t believe in ‘gifted,’ ” said Riyan Iqbal, 15, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, as he and his friends — of Bengali, Korean and Indian descent — meandered toward the subway from the Bronx High School of Science one recent afternoon. “It’s all about hard work.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/27/education/a-grueling-admissions-test-highlights-a-racial-divide.html

Last year, NPR broadcast about a community-based 'coop-ish' after-school program for immigrant children from the Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and other South East Asian nations. They were immigrant, Muslim, poor, and were ELL. Their parents had very little educational attainment or income. These children worked incredibly hard to study for "the test" that would determine their opportunity to gain entrance. They did really well, they excelled, but they worked really hard for their success. This is not privilege, or sequestering resources, this is hard work and focus on a goal.

AP

Anonymous said...

@LP- "Your point KL, and the whining of others lamenting costs as an excuse for SPS poor showing in tier 1.... College has never been more accessible, if you can get in." ....less than you would have paid at UW. Let's face it. The poverty cries are the thing that is woefully outdated. Students aren't getting in."

1. First I personally know kids from SPS who got in and are attending colleges such as Smith.
2. The price for a middle class Seattle family that has a savings is not "less than UW". Factor in room & board etc. Do the net price calculator and plug in 110,000 per year total income (includes investments) with a 9 month salary savings, 60,000 in a 529 and owning a home in Seattle. Some parents would not choose to take equity out of the house or loans in order to be able to pay 35,000-65,000 per year (after grants) for college at elite expensive schools.
3. Other factors for choosing non-elite colleges. Also, depends upon what your kid is studying as well as some competetive programs at UW and other state schools (engineering, CS etc) are better than at certain "elite" schools.
-KL

Anonymous said...

LP,

"Asian privilege"??? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you're "unaware" rather than actively racist, so let's discuss some facts.

Privilege in the context you use means unearned assets - in particular access to power and resources. Asians weren't the founders of this country nor did they create the institutions. Asians don't dominate the power structures in the U.S.

Everything Asian immigrants have EARNED has been due to HARD WORK and SACRIFICE not institutionalized advantage in the U.S.

U.S. Asians also face discrimination, violence and police profiling even if you personally are unaware of it. Immigrants to the U.S. may be fleeing lack of opportunity and oppression in their country. Not every Asian immigrant is a highly educated H-1B visa holder.

Public education isn't compulsory or free to students in some Asian countries
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002267/226757E.pdf
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/04/2013441131475898.html

There are 20.5 MILLION children of primary school age living in Asia who don't attend school due to factors such as gender, socioeconomic and disability disparities and violence from organizations such as the Taliban.
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002452/245238E.pdf
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24379018
http://oecdobserver.org/news/archivestory.php/aid/368/Women_and_girls:_education,_not_discrimination.html

-Learn

Anonymous said...

Learn, get a grip. Let's not get emotional about the actual state of the college admissions landscape. Like it or not, Asians are at a disadvantage at this point because the privilege that accompanies success. It's simply a numbers issue. Relatively many Asians are applying for relatively few spaces. Colleges are under fire for race conscious admissions policies already today. Asian applicants are drivers in this complaint because it makes it harder for them to be admitted to elite colleges. Like it or not, this factual. Also females are now overshadowing males in college applications, making admissions for girls more competitive.

LP

Who said anything about any group of students not working hard? Not me.

Anonymous said...

LP, take ownership of your words. You stated "white/asian privilege". Now you can't factually justify why you used the term "asian privilege", so you fall back on insults. Now I see why you self-identify as a "schmo". Oy, no more truer words and brought a smile to my face.

-Learn

Anonymous said...

@ LP, your arguments don't make any sense. You seem to be saying that the "fact" (I'm not sure it's true) that SPS HCC students don't get into top-tier universities is evidence that colleges don't value supposedly homogenous AP/IB classes that are filled with white and Asian students, because colleges want diversity and are more likely to pick kids from "honors for all" classes instead. To me, that's a load of rubbish. You think a top school is going to overlook all the high SAT-score, high-GPA, musically and athletically accomplished students in favor of their less-accomplished, lower scoring peers of the same race/ethnicity, just because they were in a presumably less diverse classroom, even though colleges don't get the racial composition of individual classes within a school?

Your other argument seems to be that SPS graduates have a lower acceptance rate at top-tier schools than do Seattle's private schools. I don't know how you know the numerators and denominators for those calculations in order to be able to do that comparison, but even if you're correct in that belief, what's your point? If you're trying to argue that it's because public schools are standards-based but private schools aren't, where's the proof? From what I've seen, public and private schools aren't all that different in terms of the grade-level standards to which they are working. There are a lot of other differences, though.

There are many reasons people may choose to apply or not apply to an elite university, and these may differ by public vs. private school students. Here are a few:
1. Different family backgrounds and values. Students in private schools may be more likely to have parents who went to a private university, so they may feel more affinity for elite schools. Parents of public school students are more likely to be pro-public education, so they may shy away from what they consider "elitist" schools.
2. Family income. Parent who went to top-tier schools are likely to earn incomes that are, on average, higher than parents who went to lower tier schools--or who didn't even go to college. Since private schools are very expensive, you're likely to get more well-educated parents in that setting...so more parents who went to top schools.
3. Geographic reasons. Private schools often focus more on offering a "global" education, often with more travel opportunities incorporated into the program. This might tend to attract families who move around a lot, have roots elsewhere, welcome relocation, etc. If you have a more geographically mobile population, it would not be a surprise to see more students applying to schools far away--which is where most of these top-tier schools are.
4. Status concerns. Private school families may be more concerned with getting into a top school than are public school families.
5. Economic concerns. People already brought this up. Yes, there is often aid available, but no, at most schools it's not going to cover everything.
6. College counseling. Private schools invest a lot of resources into this, so private school students should be able to assemble stronger applications. Private schools also work hard at establishing relationships with universities, which helps schools look on their applicants favorably. Public school students get very little help from school counselors.
7. More electives. Private schools often offer more than 6 periods per day, so students can take a greater range of electives. Maybe this makes them look more interesting, who knows.

unclear

Anonymous said...

Good points all, but so insanely defensive. Nobody is insulting your particular child, nor saying any group is lazy, nor denigrating anybody. Ok. "Privilege" evidently is loaded for some. But the reality is, we recognize groups that lack privilege and are part of an achievement gap. Is that SO scary? If we identify something called "achievement gap", then we can and do call those who are not members of the recognized gap as "privileged". Not an insult, not something to shake your racist proclaimer fingers at. Seems like this crowd can't handle nor own it. Yes. The point is, and it's a pretty simple one, that standards based educations make all students less competitive because they have fewer ways to stand out and competitively identify their strengths. By definition. It would seem tautological. But some have drunk the cool aid.

LP

Anonymous said...

LP, what Seattle public school is offering the education you think will make them "stand out?"

wonderin'