Changing how Socioeconomic Status impacts Education

In the United States, there is a continued problem with racial and economic inequality. If we as a society are ever to overcome these barriers, we must first address the issue of how the public school system fails students with low socioeconomic status. To correct this, we must account for the economic and sociocultural factors behind this problem by centralizing public school funding and creating choice in the classroom.

Centeralize Public School Funding

Students that Need More get Less

The United States education system is Decentralized. As opposed to in a Centralized school system, where curriculum and funding is set at the national level, a Decentralized school system allows local municipalities to set their own curriculum and must provide their own funding. This means that school funding is determined by the tax revenue, and thereby income level, of local residents. Under this system, schools in underprivileged areas are bound to receive less funding per student, when they are already in need of more support. Half of US states distribute less on average to students from their highest-poverty districts than students from their lowest-poverty districts, including New York (3% less), Texas (5% less), Illinois (10% less), and Nevada (52% less). This is even worse for students of color who have less average household income and most often attend schools that are 75% minority students.

Solution: Pool State Tax Revenue

Centralized school systems have been found to reduce variation in standardized test scores across social background and race/ethnicity. By centralizing funding for public schools on a state level, we can reduce variation between districts and set a standardized rate for funding per student while still allotting for discretion in school curriculum. When supplemented with federal subsidies for low-income neighborhoods, we can reverse this trend and give underprivileged students the tools they need to succeed. 


Create Choice in the Classroom

How the System favors Structured Parenting

Research has shown that upper and middle class parents typically have different parenting styles compared to working class parents. Working class parents typically have a ‘Natural Growth’ or ‘Unstructured’ approach to parenting, allowing children to self-select their activities and have more control over how they spend their time. In contrast, upper and middle class parents have a ‘Cultivation’ or ‘Structured’ approach, fostering talent through organized activities and access to objectified cultural capital, such as books, dictionaries, and other learning tools. This latter approach is far more suited to the classroom with strict circulumms, planned activities, and little to no room for independent exploration. In a study of the kindergarten class of 2010-2011, teachers rated High SES children 0.38 standard deviations above Low Middle SES children for their ‘Approaches to Learning’, signaling they preferred the structured parenting style of wealthy and middle class families.


Solution: Diplomatic Classrooms

Studies show that students provided with choice in homework selection report higher intrinsic motivation, feelings of competence, and saw better test scores on the unit assessment. Further, input in subject material led to higher class motivation for learning. This objective proposes the creation of a Diplomatic Curriculum Plan that allows students to vote on the order in which they cover topics, discretion in choosing homework assignments, and input on texts discussed in class. This will provide the freedom of choice to students raised by a Natural Growth parenting style and build overall investment and intrinsic motivation among all students in the classroom.