Rich kids are widening the achievement gap, leaving middle class kids, not just the poor, farther behind, writes Sean Reardon, a Stanford education and sociology professor.
High-income families are increasingly focusing their resources — their money, time and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in school — on their children’s cognitive development and educational success. They are doing this because educational success is much more important than it used to be, even for the rich.
Is it intensive parenting? asks Megan McArdle in The Daily Beast. All the people who are really good at school are marrying the other people who are really good at school (and) having children who are really, really good at school.
The rich pulling away from the middle class is also exactly what we would see if test-taking ability has a substantial inherited component, and the American economy is increasingly selecting for people who are very, very good at taking tests.
A fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, McArdle recently reread Those Happy Golden Years in which Laura Ingalls meets and marries Almanzo Wilder. While Laura liked school and was good at it, ”
Almanzo hated it” and quit as soon as he could. “
There’s no evidence that he reads or otherwise occupies himself with intellectual pursuits in his spare time.”
Apparently, it was a very happy marriage. Today . . .
Laura Ingalls would quite likely have gone to an elite school, and probably graduate school, then moved to a coastal city, and eventually married another bookworm. Almanzo Wilder would be married to someone like him, a hard worker who nonetheless found school tedious and left as quickly as possible. And when their two sets of children showed up at school, their test scores would be very different.
The educational barrier to high-paying professions tie income even more tightly to educational proficiency, she writes.
Maybe the answer is not a quixotic attempt to somehow replicate the experience of being raised by two professionals with advanced degrees. Maybe it’s to question the great educational sorting, and the barriers it has erected.
. . . every additional year of schooling we require makes it harder and harder for those who don’t enjoy school to compete in the wider world.
More women than men are going to college and earning degrees. There will be more Lauras marrying Almanzos in the future.