Is a secure career guaranteed if you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ if a joint survey conducted by ‘Annie. E Casey Foundation’ and ‘Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce’ is to be believed. The study strongly indicated that nearly 50% of children coming from poor households scoring high grades in play school saw their scores plummet considerably by the time they were in middle school. On the other hand, only 10% of kids from well-to-do families fared worse as they progressed from kindergarten to middle school.
The survey took cognizance of the startling and alarming fact that the least gifted rich kids performed better than the most brilliant of impoverished ones. Extrapolating this finding, the worst performing wealthy students had a greater likelihood of becoming graduates compared to the best performing poor pupils. Going across the Atlantic, the picture is pretty much the same in the EU countries and other European nations.
In the UK, being born rich almost guaranteed a secure career and a high quality of life, the all-embracing educational reforms notwithstanding. Younger generations of both sexes ever since the eighties of the last century have experienced less upward mobility compared to their parents or grandparents. Despite the UK government making heavy investments in education, there has not been any noticeable improvement in social mobility on an overall basis.
Families with deep pockets have leveraged their social, cultural, and economic clout to guarantee a stable and secure future for their wards. The level and quality of education an individual obtained vis-à-vis the others was the single most important factor that could make a significant difference to the person’s upward mobility. Therefore, it is clearly evident that simply being well-educated may not suffice in creating a level playing field for individuals from economically and socially marginalized sections of society.
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Burning the midnight oil does not guarantee success nowadays
Amendments made in the educational policy for providing equal learning opportunities to all children, irrespective of their family background, have done little to ameliorate the mobility prospects of younger generations. Grandparents and parents of the younger generations of men and women had enjoyed better upward mobility prospects than the latter. Consequently, those belonging to generation X, Millennials, and generation Z are more susceptible to downward mobility in comparison to upward mobility.
That said youngsters from wealthy families have a distinct edge over their counterparts from disadvantaged sections of society. To put it into perspective, graduates from affluent households have a better chance of landing a plum position in select professions than degree holders from poor families. Students who had received education from a private school or college were more likely to be recruited for a lucrative position compared to students who had studied in a public or state-funded school.
This sweeping generalization remained true even when students from both private and public schools received identical degrees or certificates from the same university. In this context, it is worth noting that even though in the present times, greater number of British students earned ‘A’ levels compared to earlier generations, the topnotch universities favored rich kids. Majority of the seats in almost all the UG and PG programs offered by elite universities are by and large, are set aside for well-heeled candidates.
It is quite embarrassing and despairing to note that rapid strides made in the postsecondary education sector in the UK has generated an excess of overqualified candidates for entry-level jobs. Obviously, secondary as well as tertiary education has abysmally failed to reduce the soaring gap in social and economic inequality and create a level playing field. Investments made in education over the decades have definitely improved the overall literacy rate and made the masses more erudite.
But unfortunately the improvements made in the levels and quality of erudition over the years has hardly contributed towards narrowing the gap between the different social classes, both socially and economically. British legislators have formulated policies (such as special kindergarten programs and reserved quotas in top universities for underprivileged kids and students) with all their heart for developing and fine-tuning the learning potential of students.
However, such well-intentioned and egalitarian strategies have not been able to tackle and deal with the underlying cause of the issue. The majority of academicians agree that the measures policymakers have taken for improving overall quality of education are not in sync with investments for bettering parity in social, economic, and living conditions. Statesmen and legislators should work towards framing policies that will facilitate the creation of an academic system where students’ higher education and vocational prospects will depend exclusively upon their educational accomplishments.
In other words, policymakers should strive to earmark more funds for public services with a view to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots for creating a more level playing field.
Those born rich have a distinct edge over those born smart
We all grow up with the belief instilled in us by our parents and school teachers that there’s no alternative to diligence for making it in life. But if a current report published by Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce is to be believed, then success in life is nearly guaranteed if one is born rich. So, your family’s financial stability (and social status as well) made a greater difference to how successful you’d be in life than your hard-work.
The report prepared jointly by Georgetown Center on ‘Education and Workforce’ and Annie. E Casey Foundation overwhelmingly corroborates the above generalization.
The director of CEW (Center for Education and Workforce) and the lead author of the study Anthony P. Carnevale strongly believe that “to succeed in America, it’s better to be born rich than smart”. He added that “people with talent that come from disadvantaged households don’t do as well as people with very little talent from advantaged households”. Anthony Carnevale along with his research team pored over data collated by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) for tracking end results of students starting from preschool to adulthood, evaluating intelligence based on typical maths tests’ performance.
The investigators thereafter grouped students under separate categories based on their socioeconomic background which in turn was defined in terms of their parents’ social standing and earning potential and household income. The researchers found to their utter dismay that wealthy kindergartners with poor grades were more likely to receive an undergraduate degree or land a lucrative job than disadvantaged preschoolers with better scores.
The research demonstrated the above finding in statistical terms-preschoolers from families belonging to the basal 25% of socioeconomic standing having grades equivalent to top 25% of pupils had a 31% likelihood of receiving college education. Additionally, these social and economically marginalized students had a 30% chance of getting a job with average CTCs of $35,000 and $45,000 by age 25 and 35 respectively. On the other hand, kindergartners having test scores representing the bottom 25% layer of students but coming from households categorized under top 25% of socioeconomic standing had a70% possibility of accomplishing education and career goals.
Meritorious students from economically and socially marginalized families even if they overcame the obstacles, and became graduates, may still have to struggle to achieve academic or professional success. The Georgetown survey revealed that socioeconomically deprived preschoolers having exceptionally good high school scores and afterwards received a college certification had a 76% possibility of becoming upwardly mobile by their 25th birthday. Their peers from well-off households, in sharp contrast, had a 91% likelihood of maintaining their current status or moving to a higher social class by the same age.
The researchers were of the opinion that several factors were responsible for this discrepancy in performance outcomes of students from preschool through to college or university. We, by and large, hold the schools and colleges responsible for not catering to the needs and preferences of those who tend to start off smarter than their peers. However, we often tend to overlook a range of parameters or yardsticks associated with demographics such as social class, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status that had a huge bearing on an individual’s performance.
Even aspects like an individual’s vocabulary at the kindergarten stage to his or her academic leanings also made an impact, though quite subtly, and it was very difficult to gauge their influence. The Georgetown research also looked into the aspect of additional benefits that accrued to kids of rich families resulting from investments made for academic pursuits and enrichment activities.
Families categorized under the top 20% annual income bracket, expended nearly $8,600 per child per year on knowledge enhancement activities. Conversely, households bracketed under the lowest income quintile, spent around $1,200 per child per annum. The study established that all children, irrespective of their family’s socioeconomic status staggered or faltered at least once in their comprehensive academic period. The researchers, on the whole, agreed that if all-embracing backing could help mediocre students from well-to-do families prevail over challenges and achieve success, then providing the same support to disadvantaged but meritorious pupils could also prove effective.
The research team concluded their study by recommending a variety of inclusive public policies that would go a long way in mitigating educational disparities. Some of these measures included universal preschool, segregating schools based on students’ performance, and catholic K-12 education funding.
In the US you would be better off born affluent than intelligent
In the US, children born to affluent parents had a better chance of completing their studies successfully and securing a high-paying job than their poorer peers. As per the analysis conducted jointly by Georgetown University’s ‘CEW’ and ‘Annie E Casey Foundation’, poor students with top grades were less likely to earn a college degree than the worst performing wealthy students.
For instance, for a student belonging to an impoverished family with excellent test scores in secondary school, the odds of becoming a graduate were 4 in 10 within a decade. In contrast, the odds of graduating from college within 10 years for rich students with low scores in 10th grade were 5 in 10. Multiple studies carried out of late, have indicated that family earnings played a strategic role in enabling a secure future for children.
Wealthy parents and guardians that in all likelihood were themselves to be erudite did everything possible to ensure quality education for their wards. Socially and economically disadvantaged households, on the other hand, were not in a position to furnish quality education to kids, despite their best intentions.
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