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Javier E

Money Cuts Both Ways in Education - NYTimes.com - 19 views

  • If you doubt that we live in a winner-take-all economy and that education is the trump card, consider the vast amounts the affluent spend to teach their offspring.
  • This power spending on the children of the economic elite is usually — and rightly — cited as further evidence of the dangers of rising income inequality.
  • But it may be that the less lavishly educated children lower down the income distribution aren’t the only losers. Being groomed for the winner-take-all economy starting in nursery school turns out to exact a toll on the children at the top, too.
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  • There is a lively debate among politicians and professors about whether the economy is becoming more polarized and about the importance of education. Dismissing the value of a college education is one of the more popular clever-sounding contrarian ideas of the moment. And there are still a few die-hards who play down the social significance of rising income inequality.
  • When you translate these abstract arguments into the practical choices we make in our personal lives, however, the intellectual disagreements melt away. We are all spending a lot more money to educate our kids, and the richest have stepped up their spending more than everyone else.
  • spending on children grew over the past four decades and that it became more unequal. “Our findings also show that investment grew more unequal over the study period: parents near the top of the income distribution spent more in real dollars near the end of the 2000s than in the early 1970s, and the gap in spending between rich and poor grew.”
  • But it turns out that the children being primed for that race to the top from preschool onward aren’t in such great shape, either.
  • “What we are finding again and again, in upper-middle-class school districts, is the proportion who are struggling are significantly higher than in normative samples,” she said. “Upper-middle-class kids are an at-risk group.”
  • troubled rich kids. “I was looking for a comparison group for the inner-city kids,” Dr. Luthar told me. “And we happened to find that substance use, depression and anxiety, particularly among the girls, were much higher than among inner-city kids.”
  • “I Can, Therefore I Must: Fragility in the Upper Middle Class,” and it describes a world in which the opportunities, and therefore the demands, for upper-middle-class children are infinite.
  • “It is an endless cycle, starting from kindergarten,” Dr. Luthar said. “The difficulty is that you have these enrichment activities. It is almost as if, if you have the opportunity, you must avail yourself of it. The pressure is enormous.”
  • these parents and children are responding rationally to a hyper-competitive world economy.
  • “When we talk to youngsters now, when they set goals for themselves, they want to match up to at least what their parents have achieved, and that is harder to do.”
  • we live in individualistic democracies whose credo is that anyone can be a winner if she tries. But we are also subject to increasingly fierce winner-take-all forces, which means the winners’ circle is ever smaller, and the value of winning is ever higher.
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