Change starts in schools
Our U.S. society is still very much divided on various levels such as race, gender, sexuality, religion, class, etc. In terms of social class, the rich seem to only be getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. Addressing issues of socioeconomic status is particularly difficult because people generally don’t like talking about their standing in this socially constructed hierarchy. Because of this topic’s uncomfortable nature, it is rarely brought into discourse. Additionally, every social class is highly stereotyped, which makes it even more difficult to bridge the gap between classes. This stratification is mostly an issue of power. Within the United States, those in power are most often wealthy. How are they supposed to change local, state and federal policies that will break down this socioeconomic hierarchy when policy makers are unwilling to give up some of their own economic privileges?
When an individual starts off poor, they have a much harder time becoming more economically mobile. For example, a poor person suffering from severe health problems will have a much more difficult time getting proper care and therefore will have to take more time off of work in order to recover. A well-off person suffering from similar health problems, however, will probably receive better care and return to work in no time. This only furthers economic stratification within our society.
Educational institutions experience a similar phenomenon. Those living in lower-income communities will have limited access to good schools, which increases drop-out rates and encourages students to find low-income jobs that keep them in the working class. On the other hand, upper-class children are more likely to obtain a better elementary-, middle- and high-school education, which helps them attend elite colleges and eventually receive high paying jobs. Overcoming class inequalities is obviously a very complex feat. However, I strongly believe that closing these gaps must begin with our school system. By providing youth with equal opportunities to education through increased funding, improved teacher training and reduced reliance on standardized tests (among many other factors), we can begin to close these gaps.
Everyone knows that a strong division between the rich and the poor exists and that this affects our schools; however, very few people actively work to combat disparities within education. There are so many times when we identify a problem as something in need of fixing; however, only a small group of people works to actually fix it. Without the support of a larger group, these few individuals cannot get very far in terms of making change. In order to accomplish something, we must get multiple people on-board and follow through on a concrete, universal plan for reform.