Monday, January 11, 2010

Of course class still matters

Remembering that class mobility in the US is about identical to that in the UK, some bits from Of course class still matters:
...the middle and upper classes are becoming increasingly effective at ensuring that their children have the capabilities and qualifications to populate the upper echelons of the economy and society, what the great sociologist Charles Tilly called opportunity hoarding.

....Alan Milburn's lethal report on social mobility showed that, despite only 7% of children being privately educated, 75% of judges, 70% of finance directors, 45% of top civil servants and 32% of MPs were independently schooled. And if current trends continue, tomorrow's professionals will come wholly from the better-off 30% of families.


  1. The numbers are slightly different, but the equivalent disparity is the same here. I have long argued that the public school system does almost nothing but solidify the class system, and that changing to a money-follows-the-child voucher system instead would do more than anything else to level the field. Elected officials always have a hundred reasons why my claim isn't true, but I always reply with a single question: Where do YOUR children go to school? And, of course, the answer is always "That's got nothing to do with it!!"

  2. I haven't researched this in ages, but I think the biggest problem with the voucher theory is providing for "special needs" kids that private schools simply exclude.

  3. Three easy answers: First, the private schools wouldn't exclude such students if they received the full amount of money allocated. You'll often hear about vouchers that they've been tried, and don't work- but when you examine the actual cases, you'll see the vouchers were for $500-$1,000 for private schools, but the public schools get $12-15,000 for the same student. And special needs children are often allocated in excess of $30,000 each- if and only if the public school gets the money. If the vouchers were for the full amounts, you'd see a lot more acceptance. Secondly, public schools often subcontract special care anyway- that's already a semi-voucher system. Third, it's not like the public schools have a good record with special needs in the first place.

  4. Damn. I may have to do some research on the real costs of public schools, 'cause the quick googling gives answers all over the place.

    Another question, though: Suppose we went to a pure voucher system. What do you do in areas where there are no private schools? Capitalism also puts its resources where the most profit is to be found.

  5. DSD- the numbers I had were from many years ago, and I had not realized Milwaukee had gotten up to that much money. But how does that compare to what Milwaukee spends per student total in the public schools? Indianapolis spends well over double that per student in the public schools; I cannot imagine that Milwaukee is far behind.

    Will- I'm sure transportation costs can be included; we have several public school districts here where they charge the parents extra for the bus ride! (yes, it's a political football) And how many kids would it take to start to look profitable? At $14,000 or more per student? an average classroom of 25 kids would be $350,000 per ROOM... minus $50,000 for the teacher and a couple thou for utilities, etc., leave some room for profit.

  6. Speaking of student costs, on the news last night another school district here has announced that they will start charging students to participate in sports. Not uniform and equipment charges- they already pay those- this is for participation. The report didn't say if there was a poverty waiver, like there is for book rentals. (all students who can are expected to pay for their books)