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economic gap is widening

February 11th, 2016 at 08:42 pm

I just read an article about a math revolution going on in the US. Very cool and interesting. But the article bring us and points out a very interesting phenomenon. The gap between kids born to the educated and well off versus the rest of them.

Last year the US won the international math championships. But the kids who were on the team were grown through a "pedagogical ecosystem". Meaning they were developed by extracurricular math programs on the "rich coasts and tech meccas". These kids were born to STEM parents and given the opportunity to learn because their parents feel the education of public schools isn't satisfactory enough. The people doing this are also starting earlier and it was suggested that 48% of kids between 2003-2009 who wanted to go into STEM fields switched because they lacked substantive quantitative background to succeed. So basically parents are paying for their kids to get ahead of the game.

In fact it was noted in the US 8 to 1 is the ratio of rich kids versus poor kids becoming math whizzes. Also the gains in math mastery is coming from those who have money.

But as also suggested in the article STEM fields are the most well paid right now and likely future. So many kids do want to enter the field but aren't able to succeed. The article suggests success is being born to the right parents and zip code.

I wonder when we'll start to acknowledge this and realize the gap is getting wider in the US and the middle class disappearing?

4 Responses to “economic gap is widening”

  1. Jenn Says:

    In terms of math education, I think the problem is more complex than that. For example, a pet peeve of mine: most school systems pay all teachers the same without differentiating compensation by their subject matter expertise. But a teacher with expertise in math or science fields could make multiples of their salary in the private sector. I'm sure the best ones do. In contrast, a teacher with expertise in language arts or history would make comparable pay elsewhere. As a result, public schools are filled with great English teachers and so-so science teachers. It's a shame.

    My son is graduating this year and will be going into mechanical engineering in college. Just as you've suggested, the public schools themselves have not provided enough support for his interests and we've supported extracurricular activities like robotics club and space camp outside of school. I am indeed grateful that we can be frugal in other areas to make this happen.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    My daughter is at a school with an Engineering Program, she is in the program, too. The only way to be in it is to live in the high school boundaries. We are in a district with some Choice Schools (magnet schools), but none of those are engineering. So because we were moving into the district, with only one child to consider, it was an easy choice. But what if we had two children with different interests, and those schools BOTH required to be living within the boundaries?

    It does seem that schools are changing, but not necessarily fast enough or to accommodate everyone. And if you don't have the good foundation early in school, it's going to be touch to catch up and compete. I think schools need to look to local businesses for tutoring or special events, on a volunteer/give back to the community, basis to assist those low income schools that may not have resources.

    As Jenn said, it is complex.

  3. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Actually Jenn, in many states (all that i've lived) Math, Science high school teachers make substantially more than any other. My friend who teaches chemistry maxes out at $100k with a masters and 10 years of teaching. There is a huge differential in some states. My friends who teach elementary complain about how much more high school STEM teachers make and how much more teachers in middle and high school make in general. She feels like teaching 3rd grade is wrangling kids so it should be the same. It's not. I think it depends on where you live. You can easily see the difference in pay online it's usually easy to find.

    It's very complex. But CCF you just gave an example of living with the right parents in the right zip code to have the right opportunity. I don't know how to change the situation or if it can be changed. However I think it's becoming more obvious about the kids with opportunities and parents able to make it happen (like you) and those who can't. I think if it's noticeable now I can't imagine what the divide will look like in 10 years.

  4. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Thanks for that article. I can't wait to read it.

    Something that is interesting to me, living here in the inner city, is that there are so many kids in elementary and middle school who will say that math is their favorite subject, even when they do not score particularly highly in it! I know kids who attend math & science magnet schools in the city, but for whom the schools seem to offer no actual edge in math or science. Our schools are really rough places to try to learn. Frown

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