Inequality In Education

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's September 2001

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Although a noble concept education does not serve all the purposes it was meant to serve. The issue at hand, the fact that education tends to reaffirm existing inequalities, is not easy to explain since the ideal behind education in everyone's mind is the exact opposite. We tend to think that since almost everyone in the western world has access to all levels of education and thus a chance to improve him/herself that person can accomplish something better in life than he or she already has. But the facts show that we do not all have the same opportunities and in the long run the present system of education sustains the existing "order"� of society.

One of the largest scaled researches on this issue was conducted for the US government in 1964 by a sociologist named James Coleman. His research showed that academic achievement depends largely on the socioeconomic background of the students rather than school facilities or other factors as he originally expected (Coleman 1966).

Meaning that children of lower social class would do worse at school than the ones from more affluent social and economic backgrounds. Similar research later on backed up Colemans findings while adding race as one of the factors for low or high achievement (Jencks 1972 , Craft and Craft 1985). Rutter another sociologist who did research on this issue found that school conditions (student-teacher relationship, proper motivation, etc"¦) could actually improve the academic achievement of children who were of low social and economic background and were otherwise expected to perform poorly (Rutter 1974). But how can something like this be explained? Three theories seem to explain the reasons why adequately.

The first theory on why inequalities are sustained by education emphasizes the linguistic skills of the students. According to Basil Bernstein children while growing...