What if education can’t level the playing field for Americans?

American society often suggests education is the way to level out social inequalities. But, what if education isn’t playing that role in society? Three investigative journalists argue those getting the bigger payoff from education are wealthier Americans:

Yet over the past 20 years, America’s best-educated state [Massachusetts] also has experienced the country’s second-biggest increase in income inequality, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Census data. As the gap between rich and poor widens in the world’s richest nation, America’s best-educated state is among those leading the way…

If the great equalizer’s ability to equalize America is dwindling, it’s not because education is growing less important in the modern economy. Paradoxically, it’s precisely because schooling is now even more important…

Just to stay even, poorer Americans need to obtain better credentials. But that points to another rich-poor divide in the United States. Educators call it the scholastic “achievement gap.” It has been around forever, but it’s getting wider. Lower-class children are getting better educations than before. But richer kids are outpacing their gains, which in turn is stoking the widening income gap.

Across the country, a Stanford University study found last year, the achievement gap between rich and poor students on standardized tests is 30 to 40 percent wider than it was a quarter-century ago. Because excellent students are more likely to grow rich, the authors argued, income inequality risks becoming more entrenched.

This is a complicated matter and, as the article suggests, it is a politicized topic. Trying to sort this out would be very difficult, particularly since it is tied to where people live and how they can use their own resources to help their children succeed.

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