From "Consequences of Inequality, 1967 to 2007" a report from Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY, Issue Number 217, July 2010:
“Among the myths we are taught as Americans is that education is the great social equalizer. Education provides social mobility. Anyone can go to college. Et cetera ad nauseam.
In fact the data say that the opposite is true. Education as an industry is more appropriately described as the engine of social division. The sorting and "classification" processes of education are especially true of higher education. Colleges and universities flagrantly practice class-based selective admission. Many of these institutions even brag about what they do and they leave a public record in their wake." (p. 1)
". . . from 1980 to present, our educational system has increased bachelor's degree attainment by age 24:
- By 41.6 percentage points for 24 year olds from the top quartile of family income (above $107,000 in 2008),
- By 14.7 percentage points for 24 year olds from the third quartile of family income (between $67,000 and $107,000),
- By 7.4 percentage points for 24 year olds from the second quartile of family income (between $38,000 and $67,000),
- By 2.8 percentage points for 24 year olds from the bottom family income quartile (below $38,000)." (p. 2)
"Higher education produces graduates that earn considerably more than those who lack higher education. One Census Bureau analysis puts this difference at one million dollars over a working lifetime. Since the early 1970s. . . these income gaps have widened. Widening educational attainment gaps are compounded by widening income gaps and vice versa. Across educational attainment levels educational opportunity is increasingly determined by class privileges (or lack thereof) inherited at birth and untouched by public policy (at least in the United States since 1980)." (p. 2)
The remainder of the article reviews data on the social consequences, ranging from illicit drug use and low birth weights to low voting rates, of the growing income inequality in the United States.
This article can be found at www.postsecondary.org (for subscribers only)