This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface



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11.6 End-of-Chapter Material

SUMMARY


  1. Education is both formal and informal. Formal education occurs in schools under specially trained teachers, while informal education takes place primarily in the home, with parents as instructors.

  2. In the early nineteenth century in the United States, a movement for free, compulsory education began. Reasons for interest in such education included the perceived needs to unify the country, to “Americanize” immigrants, and to give members of the working class the skills, knowledge, and discipline they needed to be productive workers.

  3. In the United States, social class, race and ethnicity, and gender all affect educational attainment. Poor people end up with less schooling than middle- and upper-class people, and African Americans and Latinos have lower educational attainment than whites and Asian Americans. Although women had less schooling than men in the past, today they are more likely to graduate from high school and to attend college.

  4. Education in the United States has a significant impact on two areas. One is income: the higher the education, the higher the income. The second is attitudes: the higher the education, the greater the tolerance for nontraditional behaviors and viewpoints.

  5. Sociological perspectives on education fall into the functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist approaches discussed in earlier chapters. Functional theory stresses the functions education serves for society, including socialization, social placement, social integration, and social and cultural innovation. Conflict theory stresses that education perpetuates and reinforces existing social inequality for several reasons, including the use of tracking and inequality in schooling between rich and poor communities. Symbolic interactionism emphasizes the social interaction that’s part of schooling and calls attention to the ways in which the treatment of students as smart or dull can affect how much they end up learning.

  6. Several issues and problems affect education in the United States today. Many schools are decrepit and lack sufficient books and equipment, and many are also segregated by race and ethnicity. Increasing interest in school choice has led to controversy over whether the government should provide aid to parents to send their children to private and parochial schools. Additional controversy surrounds the issue of single-sex schools for girls. Finally, school violence is an issue of continuing concern; however, the vast majority of schools are very safe for their students, teachers, and other personnel. Bullying is more common, with about one-third of students bullied every year.

  7. At the level of higher education, students of color and those from low-income backgrounds are less likely to attend college at all, and if they do attend, they are less likely to graduate.



USING WHAT YOU KNOW


You are the principal of a middle school in a poor urban neighborhood. Your classrooms lack basic supplies, your roof often leaks, and an ominous odor often arises from your school’s water system. You have appealed many times to the school district for additional funds to deal with all these problems, but these funds have not been provided. What, if anything, do you do next?

WHAT YOU CAN DO


To help deal with the education problems discussed in this chapter, you may wish to do any of the following:

  1. Volunteer to tutor students at a local school or after-school program.

  2. If your college or university has low numbers of low-income students, establish a student group to encourage your school to admit more such students.

  3. Start or join a group on your campus to call attention to the need for responsible alcohol use, as drinking is associated with much campus violence.


Chapter 12


Work and the Economy



Social Problems in the News


“White-Collar Workers Join Crowds Straining Food Banks,” the headline said. Amid the nation’s continuing faltering economy, middle-class families across the United States who had lost their jobs were being forced to get free food at food pantries. One woman, who lost her job as a consultant, said her family’s savings had dwindled to less than $200. “Without the network of food pantries around us, I don’t know how we would have eaten,” she said. As more middle-class workers were turning to the food pantries, the pantries’ donations had fallen. As one food pantry official put it, “We’re seeing many faces from the middle class who had been donors who now need support from our food bank. Right now, our donations are softer than we would like them to be.” Meanwhile, a survey of college-educated New York residents found that 30 percent said they had trouble affording food.

Source: Cole, 2012 [1]

One of the most momentous events of the twentieth century was the Great Depression, which engulfed the United States in 1929 and spread to the rest of the world, lasting almost a decade. Millions were thrown out of work, and bread lines became common. In the United States, a socialist movement gained momentum for a time as many workers blamed US industry and capitalism for their unemployment.

The Depression involved the failing of the economy. The economy also failed in the United States beginning in late 2007, when the country entered what has been called the Great Recession. Although the recession has officially ended, the jobless rate remains much higher than before the recession. The news article that began this chapter provides just a small illustration of the millions of lives that have been affected.

This chapter examines the many problems related to work and the economy in the United States today. It also examines the related issues of economic inequality and economic mobility. As we shall see, the United States has a mediocre record in both these areas when compared to other wealthy democracies.


[1] Cole, P. (2012, January 11). White-collar workers join crowd straining food banks.Bloomberg.com. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-11/mercedes-owners-ph-d-holders-join-swelling-crowd-straining-soup-kitchens.html.

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