chapter  3
50 Pages

Equality of Educational Opportunity?

A Look at Social Class Differences and Inequalities

This chapter highlights social class differences and inequalities in the educational system. It shows that the school system, rather than act as meritocracy and site for social mobility, too often acts as a setting in which social class inequalities are reproduced. The chapter analyzes the dynamics and processes through which social class inequalities emerge in both educational achievement and attainment. To explore the relationship between social class stratification and educational inequalities, we take a rigorously sociological approach, one that combines the micro- and macro-levels. Any understanding of class inequalities in the educational system begins with a discussion of how the principle of localism informs school funding in the United States, and how the localized system of funding may exacerbate class differences in educational opportunities. One striking finding regarding education in the United States is that despite the massive expansion of the system of higher education, the social class gap in educational attainment has not significantly decreased over time.