A Closer Look

The academic arms race: to educate everyone at the level of the elite in the past

The good jobs that do exist increasingly require higher education: Since the recession started in the U.S. in 2007, the number of jobs needing a college degree has risen by 2.2 million, according to a recent Georgetown University study. The number of jobs for mere high-school graduates fell by 5.8 million.

Just to stay even, poorer Americans need to obtain better credentials. But that points to another rich-poor divide in the United States. Educators call it the scholastic “achievement gap.” It has been around forever, but it’s getting wider. Lower-class children are getting better educations than before. But richer kids are outpacing their gains, which in turn is stoking the widening income gap.

Across the country, a Stanford University study found last year, the achievement gap between rich and poor students on standardized tests is 30 to 40 percent wider than it was a quarter-century ago. Because excellent students are more likely to grow rich, the authors argued, income inequality risks becoming more entrenched.

“Now, we’re in a situation where we need to educate everyone at the level of the elite in the past,” said Paul Reville, Massachusetts secretary of education. “We don’t have a system to do that.”

It’s an academic arms race, and it can be seen in the sharply contrasting fortunes of Weston, a booming Boston suburb, and the blue-collar community of Gardner, where a 20-foot-tall chair sits on Elm Street as a monument to the town’s past as a furniture-manufacturing hub.

Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from

via Special Report: The Unequal State of America – Why education is no longer the great equalizer | Reuters.

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