The myth: everyone is afforded the same opportunities in America.
The Opinion: education is the source of opportunity in America.
– Here is the wealth distribution in America:
– Here is income and education statistics:
– In 2007-2008, only 26% of college graduates graduated WITHOUT debt (source)
– With the rising cost of college and the rising number of students attending college…the cost is being borne by the student and/or their parents, with the average student only receiving approximately $10,000 for an undergraduate degree. (source)
My sister is a public school teacher (and a product of public schools), my dad received a degree (he paid for) and taught at a state college as a vocational instructor, and I graduated from public schools and my undergraduate degree* was from a state college (paid for with loans, Pell grants, and GI Bill). I am an associate professor at a private university that is primarily populated by kids who are not on financial aid, nor are most of them graduating with debt.
The inequality of wealth in America is increasing the disparity in educational opportunities for the vast majority of American students. Private secondary educational institutions and home schooling is nothing more than a further segregation of the wealthy from the masses. If you do not go to the best schools (either private or well-funded public schools) then your chances of receiving a collegiate scholarship are significantly reduced because your ability to compete against better educated kids is hampered. Competition for college money has become so great that there is not only an inequality of wealth in America, but an inequality of education…thus the vast majority of kids are not afforded (nor can they afford) a good education.
Home schooling, usually the result in either parental dislike of the local public school (poorly funded) system, or religious or moral beliefs that counter what the family deems important. This too is an extension of segregation. Studies have shown that following the Civil Rights era and the desegregation of public schools, white (wealth) flight ensued. The wealthy and the white wanted to ensure their kids maintain their status quo within society.
If you are going to tell a child they can be anything want as long as they try hard enough, or that in America everyone is afforded an opportunity to excel…at least be honest with them and let them know that yes they can work hard and yes there may be an opportunity…But follow that up with the honest statement that they will not be afforded the advantages that other, wealthier children are afforded.
Wealth is maintained in this country through a discrimination in many ways, and one primary way is through the offering of less-than-equal public education. Stop lying to children. Education is the path wealth in America if you are not born to wealth, yet we restrict education…thus we restrict access to wealth.
Soap box dismounted…
*one of my graduate degrees is from a private Catholic university that I paid for with my GI Bill, and my other graduate degree was paid for by the Department of Defense.