Education Preserves Class Inequalities
- Education Preserves Class InequalitiesDec. 23, 2012: “Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer — the place where upward mobility gets started,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.Neighborhoods have grown more segregated by class, leaving lower-income students increasingly concentrated in lower-quality schools. And even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.“It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that a low-income student, no matter how intrinsically bright, moves up the socioeconomic ladder,” said Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford. “What we’re talking about is a threat to the American dream.”Professor Reardon, the Stanford sociologist, examined a dozen reading and math tests dating back 25 years and found that the gap in scores of high- and low-income students has grown by 40 percent, even as the difference between blacks and whites has narrowed. By eighth grade, white students surpass blacks by an average of three grade levels, while upper-income students are four grades ahead of low-income counterparts.One explanation is simply that the rich have clearly gotten richer. A generation ago, families at the 90th percentile had five times the income of those at the 10th percentile. Now they have 10 times as much.Affluent families have tripled the amount by which they outspend low-income families on enrichment activities like sports, music lessons and summer camps, according to Professor Duncan and Prof. Richard Murnane of Harvard.Annette Lareau, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that the affluent also enjoy an advocacy edge: parents are quicker to intervene when their children need help, while low-income families often feel intimidated and defer to school officials.Some super rich Republicans:Jack Welch, the retired General Electric CEO He left GE with a retirement package worth over $400 million.Jamie Dimon — JPMorgan bank CEO in 2011 pulled in $23.1 million in 2011, up 11 percent over 2010. America’s highest-paid He is against the Dodd-Frank Act, the legislation enacted in 2010 to rein in risky trading after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Wall Street’s intense opposition to Dodd-Frank, with Dimon a key ringleader, has so far kept the bulk of the legislation unenforced.Wilbur Ross: His latest estimated personal net worth: $2.3 billion. He retired with , bonus, and assorted other benefits one analysis values at $224.7 million. He’ll be consulting for IBM. His rate: $20,000 for any day he puts in four hours. In 2013, observes the Wall Street Journal, Palmisano “could pocket $400,000” for a mere “20 half-days of work.”Google”s CEO Larry Page: In 2011, Bloomberg reports, Google “avoided about $2 billion” worldwide via just one Bermuda tax dodge alone. Forbes estimates his total personal fortune at $18.7 billion.Billionaire Steven Cohen pays federal income tax on much of his ample annual earnings — $600 million last year alone — at just a 15 percent rate, not the 35 percent rate that faces ordinary income over $388,000.Brian Driscoll:CEO at fast-food colossus McDonald’s, Jim Skinner took home $8.75 million last year. McDonald’s helped bankroll industry lobbying campaigns against attempts to raise state and federal minimum hourly pay rates. Retired with a package worth an estimated $82.3 million.Forbes puts Sheldon Adelson owner of the Las Vegas Sands, the world’s largest casino company, his net worth at $20.5 billion. What can you do with over $20 billion? For starters, you can spend $150 million on the 2012 election . Last month Adelson had Sands declare a special dividend. He’ll personally collect $1.2 billion from this distribution — and pay only a 15 percent federal income tax on it. On January 1, with the likely expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the dividend tax rate will jump from that 15 to 35 percent. The Sands dividend quickie will save Adelson nearly a quarter-billion in taxes. Adelson has a hostility to unions. His flagship casino, the Venetian, currently operates as the only nonunion major casino in Las Vegas.