EDUCATION: ROOT FOR A NEW SOCIAL CLASS
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Our democratic society is based on the fundamental aspect of equal opportunity. As long as you work hard, it does not matter which background you come from because it will pay off.
However, even as young students, we have figured out that children who come from low-income families do not have the same advantages as children from a higher income family. The source lies in education. Education now is more important than it has ever been.
Now, a college education is vital in order to move upward in the society. Men with higher education would earn five times more than men who only have a high school diploma. The difference in earning between both men is bigger than it has been in the past.
This inequality, however, does not commence later on in a child’s education, but during the early stages. This difference can be traced back to the day the children enter kindergarten. A child from a low-income families starting its first day of kindergarten is more than a year behind a child from a high-income family. Research has shown that literacy skills learned by the child before even attending kindergarten influences greatly its academic career. As the years progress on, it only gets worse for this child from a less wealthy background. Even the few underpriviledged children who perform very well at an early stage will eventually fall behind in their schooling.
Early childhood development is mainly affected because it is predominantly based on the resources the family has and can provide for their children. Low-income families cannot afford luxuries that other families can acquire. For example, children from affluent families are more likely to be in high-quality licensed child care before attending schools. These children are taken care of by professionals with degrees in education, and who are likely to teach preliteracy skills. In this environment, they have the opportunity to receive opportunities to develop social, language, motor, and cognitive skills.
Further, the children from parents who have professional degrees are more likely to also acquire themselves degrees, as opposed to children of parents without such an academic background. This, in turn, makes it so that parents with a higher level of education tend to pass along the language and knowledge they possess to their children and aid them in succeeding. This is an advantage that a child from a lower income family would not be able to benefit from. Children from higher-income families tend to also have access to enrichment opportunities, such as extra lessors, music, tutors, sports teams. In fact, the Canadian Teacher’ Federation has emphasized the importance of such participation in a child’s daily routine.
Another benefit for the higher-income family's children is the placement of their residence. Schools benefit from school taxes: the expensive real estate is equal to a higher school tax. This, in turn, means that the schools in wealthier neighborhoods tend to receive a higher revenue, and thus can offer a better environment and a higher quality of education. Children are likely to be sent to the school closest to their homes. If they are from a low-income family (and live in a poorer neighborhood), they would have access to a quality of education that is not necessarily comparable to another school located in a wealthier neighborhood. Four main factors can be the cause of a reduced quality of education in these instances. First one is the lack of funding, second one is the obstacle in attracting good teachers, third one is how children from low-income families might be harder to manage and fourth one is that teachers are providing a more basic teaching to the children because they're academic level are not up to par with with educational standards. Whichever the reason may be, the gaps between social classes are colossal.
These differences need to be narrowed in order for the true equal opportunity to arise. A child from a low-income family is starting at a disadvantage that will inevitably put them in a predetermined socio-economic class. They will have little to no access to a higher education that normally leads to a higher income. Even if the higher education was accessible, their success rate might not be achievable compared to a child who had the benefits of having access to private tutors, ability to show extra-curricular activities and volunteer opportunities. Such important aspects that many employers search for, cannot be shown for a child that might have to dedicate their time to part-time jobs and the stress of financial strain. In theory, education has now become the source to create new social classes but in practice, is it so straightforward and simple for the poor to climb the social ladder?