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Social Reproduction in Education

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lisa gilliam

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of Social Reproduction in Education

Does schooling perpetuate inequalities? My objectives today are: 1. To outline the major theoretical perspectives concerning the reproduction of income inequalities


2. To demonstrate how this is being played out along the lines of both race and class,
in contemporary society. Horace Mann has been credited as one of the founding fathers
of public education in the United States.

His main argument for the "common school"
was that schooling could
be "the great equalizer of men"

where it would lead to economic advancement, not only by teaching reading and math, but
also by socializing children in diligence and discipline. Meritocracy or plutocracy?

Meritocracy- a system where opportunities and responsibilities are assigned based on demonstrated talent and ability (merit). Formal education plays an important evaluative role in notions of meritocracy

Plutocracy- is rule by the wealthy or power provided by wealth. In a plutocracy, the degree of economic inequality is high while the level of social mobility is low Theorist Bowles and Gintis base their analysis on the Marxist perspective that "the capitalist process of production... produces not only commodities, not only surplus-value, but it also produces and reproduces the capitalist relation itself; on the one hand the capitalist, on the other the wage-laborer." (Capital) They suggest that "the major aspect of schooling can be understood in terms of the systematic need for producing reserve armies of skilled labor, legitimizing the technocratic-meritocratic perspective, reinforcing the fragmentation of groups of workers into stratified status groups and accustoming youth to the social relation of dominance and subordinancy in the economic system." This means that schools "train the wealthy to take up places at the top of the economy while conditioning the poor to accept their lowly status in the class structure" (Macleod) The structure of the schooling resembles the economic structure in the following ways: 1. The relationship between power and authority.

2. The student lack of control over curriculum.

3. The role of grades and other rewards to increase motivation.

4. Competition among student and the specialization of academic subjects. "Through these relationships, the educational system tailors the self-concepts, aspirations, and social class identifications of individual to the requirements of the social division of labor" (p. 129) But how do schools reproduce inequality?

According to B&G, there are different standards and socialization mechanisms for students from different class backgrounds.

The lower-class students endure a more regimented curriculum that emphasizes conformity and obedience to rules.

Their wealthier counterparts are taught critical thinking and have less supervision. Even within schools, tracking serves to condition student by placing them on different "tracks" such as vocational or honors/ advanced placement courses. French Structuralist
Pierre Bourdieu

Cultural Capital
and Habitus For Bourdieu, Cultural Capital is a form of symbolic wealth that is passed on from generation to generation. It is embodied in a certain linguistic and cultural competence, in which schools privilege those familiar with "high class" interest and ideologies.

Bourgeoisie students attend art museums, have familiarity with classical music, read books, and go to the theater.

This familiarity with the dominant culture gives them an advantage in school because the school system requires these ways of knowing for academic attainment. There is also the influence of habitus defined as: "a system of lasting, transposable dispositions which, integrating past experiences, functions at every moment as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations, and actions." "Its is the attitudes, beliefs, dispositions and experiences of those inhabiting one's social world." One's habitus effects aspirations and attainment because they are a set of internalized values.

According to Bourdieu, schools preference for upper-class culture creates belief in those from the lower-classed that they will not be successful academically.

Those from the working-class are also less likely to have seen others around them that have "made it." They come to believe that social mobility is not realistic for them, and lose the aspirations to attain it. "Surely, among among all the solutions put forth throughout history to the transmission of power and privilege, there does not exist one that is better concealed, and therefore better adapted to societies which tend to reuse the most patent forms of the hereditary transmission of power and privilege, then that solution that the educational system provides by contributing to the reproduction of the class relations and by concealing, under an apparently neutral attitude, the fact that it fulfills this function." Shirley Brice Heath and Basil Bernstein They contend that working-class families use a restricted language code. It is not vocabulary or dialect, but different syntactic and lexical constructions which, are rooted in the social division of labor. So, how do these theories present themselves in today's society? "The problem of the twentieth- century
is the problem of the colorline....
the relations of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. " I believe that race, class and gender form interlocking and intersecting forms of oppression. -Decreased funding/ closure of schools in low-
income neighborhoods
-Student are encouraged to leave if they
don't meet standards (keeps avg. scores high)
-Loss of critical thinking skills
-Loss of art, social science
and physical education classes Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies! Texas Bans Critical Thinking Here is the actual language from a position statement in the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. WHY?!?! Either (1) they learned some nifty reactionary ideas from the Arizona struggle against HB2281, the law banning the teaching of Chicana/o Studies in public schools, or

(2) they understand that Texas public schools are now filled with a majority of minority [sic] students, most of them Mexican-origin, and it may not be a good idea to encourage them to become anything other than servants of the 1% by denying them anything but rote learning and vocational educations. -ALTERNET Ladson-Billings- Education Debt

Achievement Gap- refers to the disparities in standardized test scores between Black, Latino, and resent immigrants versus their white students.
Definition- is a matter of race and class; gap in academic achievement persist between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. -National Governors’ Association

These gaps persist over time
-also exists when comparing dropout rates and number of students who take AP exams, honors/ gifted classes, admittance into college and graduate programs
1966 Colman Report Equality of Educational Opportunity- a combination of factors was heavily correlated with academic achievement -composition of school, students sense of control of the environment and their futures, teachers verbal skills, and students family backgrounds- all contribute to students achievements
Family background became primary point of interest
- A “stereotype threat” contributes to the gap Claude Steel
-cultural mismatch
-nature of curriculum
-pedagogical practices of teacher
All move toward short-term solutions that are unlikely to address the long-term underlying problems Education Debt- the historical, sociopolitical and moral components
Debt- is the sum of all previous incurred annual federal deficits
ED is the foregone schooling resources that we could have (should have) been investing in primarily low income kids, which deficit leads to a variety of social problems (e.g. crime, low productivity, low wages, low labor force participation) that require on-going public investment.
-You need to reduce one (the education debt) in order to close the other (the achievement gap)

Non-market effects of education:
-schooling received by one’s own children
-health status; family and individual
-efficiency of choices made- consumer choices
-fertility choices
-schooling of neighborhood and decisions on level of schooling, non-marital child bearing,
- participation in criminal activities Historical Debt-
Legacy of educational inequalities formed around race, class, and gender.
-persists in the realm of race
-education was forbidden for African Americans
-Freedman schools- maintenance of a service class -cast off books -4month school year/ rural
-Blacks did not have universal secondary school until 1968
American Indians- mission schools to convert them to labor
-boarding schools- colonize “kill the Indian, save the man”
-only allowed in historically Black colleges
Latinos- Mendez vs. Wesminster (1946) and Lemon Grove Incident
-continue to be excluded from equitable and high-quality education

Majority of national leaders endorsed ideas about inferiority
Thomas Jefferson- advocated DE, but decreed that Blacks were incapable of education

Cotton was drove the economy of the East, and depended of the labor of enslaved Africans
1864- Congress made it illegal for Native American to be taught in their native languages
Plessy vs. Ferguson -segregation was officially recognized as legal by the federal government
-Communities of color have always had to work to educate themselves Economic Debt-
The funding disparities that currently exist between schools serving whites and those serving students of color are not a recent phenomena
-Separate schooling allows for differential funding –presently bet. urban and suburban
-value we place on different groups of students
The amount of funding increases with the rise in White students -occurred for centuries
Earning ratios related to years of schooling- more school= higher earning
-Cumulative effects of income disparities
-wealth gap bet. whites and blacks is larger than the earning gap
Wealth is a source of political power, influences access to capital for new businesses, and provides insurance against fluctuation in the labor market income.
-affects the quality of housing, neighborhoods, and schools a family has access to and
The ability to finance higher education; availability of resources
Income gap resembles achievement gap; wealth disparity resembles education debt Sociopolitical Debt-
Reflects the degree to which communities of color are excluded from the civic process
-Native communities had little/ no access to the franchise, so they had no true legislative representation.
-Voting Rights Act of 1965- represents a proactive attempt to eradicate the sociopolitical debt that had been accumulating since the founding of the nation
-imagine if the best teachers went to the needy schools
-Affirmative Action-best example of society deciding to recognize that historically denied groups should be given preference in admission to schools and colleges
-helped create the Black middle class
-families of color have regularly been excluded from the decision making mechanisms that should ensure their children receive quality education- PTA, school councils, etc.
-advocacy has often been muted of marginalized
-“when we fight about schools, we’re fighting for our lives.”
-limited access to lawyers and legislators keeps from accumulating political capital Moral Debt-
Reflects the disparity between what we know is right and what we actually do.
What human beings owe to each other in the giving of, or failure to give, honor to another when honor is due.
How do we recognize the moral debt that we owe to entire groups of people?
Those who have been historically excluded from social benefits and opportunities?
LBJ “You cannot take a man who has been in chains for 300 years, remove the chains, take him to the starting line and tell him to run the race, and think that you are being fair”
Randall Robinson “lines, begun parallel and left alone, can never touch”
Labor efforts of people of color have sustained the nation
Our largest moral debt is to the indigenous peoples whose presence was all but eradicated Why We Must Address the Debt
Because it is the equitable and just thing to do
Because it has implications for the kinds of lives we can live and the kind of education the society can expect for most of its children
Impact of Debt on Present Education Progress
Maintain the position of the US in the world
“Relational trust” as a key component of reform
The value of Understanding the Debt in Relation to Past Research Findings
School desegregation- separation persists by changing demographics
-high poverty schools get the fewest resources
-Minority districts receive less money for each child

Tally the debt!
Build from the ground up!
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