Working Class Students and Higher Education
Authors Michelle Tokarczyk, Peter Sacks, Robert Haverman and Timothy Smeeding all write about certain problems that working class students are facing in education in the U.S. , especially in college education which is usually defined as higher education. Although they focus on different aspects of the problem, they still have some ideas in common. In their articles, all of them discuss how economic and social class occupies a very significant role in the quality of education an American student receives. In order to support their claims, all of them employ studies as their strong evidence. They also imply that college education fails to consider the special issues and conditions that working class students have. In addition, higher education fails to help those students to improve their circumstances and social mobility. Even though all of the problems that working class students face are important, some of them are extremely significant factors to their struggles to obtain a college education, such as the economic and social class of the working class student. The main problems that working class students face in America also occur in the education system in China.
In Tokarczyk’s essay, “Promises to Keep: Working Class Students and Higher Education,” she claims that working class students face both academic and institutional barriers in getting college degrees. According to Tokarczyk, working class students usually lack preparation for post-secondary education, which she categorizes as an “academic barrier” (85). Problems such as school policies that are not designed for working class students, peers who are not able to understand the situations that they have, and faculty members who ignored them are classed as institutional barriers (Tokarczyk 84). She then uses her personal experiences, her students’ experiences, and a few studies to prove that those problems she claimed previously are the reality. Working class students who have both academic and institutional barriers are really having a hard time in stay enrolling in college. As a result, Tokarczyk suggests that the society should acknowledge the existence of working class students and provide education system that actually help them to improve their social and economic status (91-92).
In Peter Sacks’s article, “Do No Harm: Stopping the Damage to American Schools,” he declares that “the economic class of individual children and their parents bears decisively on a child’s chance of success in the school system” (39). He repeatedly emphasizes how [the] economic and social classes act as important elements in blocking lower class students from getting higher education like college education. He also argues the opposite effects that standardized tests bring, such as discouraging lower class students in un-wealthy school districts, increasing the gap between higher and lower class students, and pushing more pressures toward teachers in...