Sociology 210 February 1, 2010 Sociology 210 Education and Inequality Education and opportunity Public education in America Nature vs. nurture Education and opportunity In 2008: 11 percent of children from the poorest families had college degrees; 53 percent of children from the top fifth had college degrees There is possibility for upward mobility Data tells us that people who get educated (college) make it to the middle class Public education: discipline and opportunity 1830?s: Horace Mann argued that children needed more skills than their parents could teach them Working toward industrial society > expand life for all citizens Shift towards institutionalized schooling system Public schools started in New England and spread across country 1800?s: people began to feel all children needed to go to school Train professional, industrial, and clerical workers (need more ppl with these skills; not necessarily just to get people educated, but to train them) 1854: Massachusetts Spring Committee said, basically, if kids learn to show up for school, they?ll show up for work (working toward new economy) A lot of what kids learn in school isn?t about creativity or intelligence Gain habits to work in modern economy: punctuality, ability to follow orders, etc. 1860: 40% of kids in Massachusetts in school 20th century expansion After Civil War, high school attendance rose dramatically Key to new white-collar/technical jobs After WWII, college attendance rises (GI Bill paid for college at time) College degrees become passport to middle class Tracking in 20th century Does it make education relevant to specific children, or constrain opportunities? Superintendents knew kids weren?t all heading for the same futures Not fair to give them the same education, so use tracking to give kids their appropriate education Don?t pretend they?re all heading for the same thing; future lawyer needs different education than future carpenter Superintendent of Boston schools, 1908: ?Until very recently [the schools] have offered equal opportunity for all to receive one kind of education, but what will make them democratic is to provide opportunity for all to receive such education as will fit them equally well for their particular life work.? Superintendent of Cleveland schools, c. 1910: "It is obvious that the educational needs of children in a district where the streets are paved and clean, where the homes are spacious and surrounded by lawns and trees, where the language of the child's playfellows is pure, and where life in general is permeated with the spirit and ideals of America -- it is obvious that the educational needs of such a child are radically different than those of the child who lives in a foreign and tenement section.? Ability tracking, 1988 Overrepresentation of Asians/Whites in upper mobility tracks; huge number of blacks and Hispanics in lower abilities Nature vs. Nurture IQ tests supposed to determine innate abilities and set ?tracking? Twin studies in Britain (Cyril Burt): Identical twins adopted and birth into two different lifestyles (one poor, one wealthy) Their IQ?s were very similar later on Problem: the studies seem to be faked! No evidence of where he found the twins, who his co-authors were, problems with data, etc. Minnesota twin studies: May be some genetic connection between twins and IQs, but impossible to tell what part of intelligence is genetic! You?re better off assuming that there?s enough non-genetic stuff to work with Additional problem with IQ as a measure: Much less stable than genetic claims would suggest Genetically-similar groups change over time (kids score higher on same test today than their grandparents did 60 years ago) Disadvantaged groups consistently perform less well than kids from dominant group Individual IQ changes over time Experiment in 1968: ?Special? kids at beginning of the year performed better throughout year; teachers? expectations allowed them to grow more than the kids given lower IQ scores early on IQ measures of ?special? group grew more over year than scores of non-special Stanley Milgram ? experiment in 1961 (Yale) Ran ad in New Haven newspaper Guy behind glass screen learning list of words (he was part of the experiment, faked shock) Every time he got a word wrong, the volunteer was supposed to shock him? raising the level of electricity with each wrong word 65% of people obeyed technician to administer huge electric shock Shows obedience to authority; technicians were yelling (compare to concentration camps) As soon as technician left, people would stop shocking the guy How ethical is it for experimenters to mess with kids? futures? To mess with the subjects in Milgram?s experiment? NY Times 2002: ?Inmate?s Rising IQ Score Could Mean His Death? Daryl Atkins convicted of murder IQ of 59 (mentally retarded -> violates 8th Amendment; can?t execute) Later tests gave him a higher IQ; IQ changed in prison? NOW they could legally execute him Case dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct What do IQ tests measure? Stanford Benet Tests designed in 1916 (mostly vocabulary) What makes a word difficult is that it?s not used very much Impossible (?) to devise test that doesn?t test for past learning; can?t test for ?innate? intelligence Bread example for suburban vs. urban kids (buying bread at store; store is out? suburban kid says ?go to new store? and urban kid says ?go home?) Bourdieu?s ?cultural capital? Absolute correlation between family income and SAT scores Cultural capital ? skills and knowledge transmitted to kids that will help them succeed through the rest of their lives (as opposed to financial capital)
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