chapter  9
25 Pages

Schools and the Myth of Equal Opportunity

The reasons for discussing formal education under the heading “pillar o f

equality” are not immediately obvious. After all, it can well be argued that the

graded schooling system actually generates inequality. But the modem school system is also an attempt to institutionalize the principle o f equal opportunity,

just as democracy attempts to do the same in the political sphere. Right from

the start, when all primary school pupils start in the same grade, individual

performance alone is supposed to decide one’ s progress and final position in

the educational hierarchy. Because formal education is functionally linked to

society’ s positional structure, the educational system contributes to the

acceptance o f an uneven positional structure created by formal organizations.