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Economic Inequality and Education in Present-Day America

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    As an individual who is part of an American working-class family who came to the United States seeking a better future, I have been raised to believe education was the direction to a better future and economic stability, which to this day many Americans still believe. Economic inequality was seen throughout my childhood up to the present-day and although it might not have been clear back then, I started noticing little things throughout the years. Throughout my education, I had free-lunches at school while I noticed several of my classmates were given an amount due to the cafeteria every day. Little did I know the reason for owing to the cafeteria was because our parents had an income which was not low enough to be considered in the “lowincome” bracket and schools assumed families could pay for the students’ lunch. Another aspect of income inequality can be seen when students are trying to get into university/college and cannot afford to pay fees or tuition out of their pocket, so they apply for financial aid. Not all of the students are fortunate enough to be helped with financial aid because their parents’ income is not too low and the student is expected to apply for loans or scholarships.

    All throughout my life, I was motivated to do well in school and go after my list of educational goals, which ended in pursuing a college degree no matter the challenges I faced. However, as I grew up and started noticing issues happening around me, I noticed pursuing a college degree does not secure a better, well-paid lifestyle. This is something Nick Hanauer points out in his article, “Better Public Schools Won’t Fix America”, as he says how education is not the main problem in America, rather economic inequality. No matter what educational level an individual pursues, there will still be income gaps that could affect individuals in all levels of education and life. Throughout his writing, Hanauer establishes his authority by stating his own perspective on the issues and realizing how after all the organizations he had taken a part of over the years and his ability to devote his time and money onto trying to improve education in America, he was ultimately fighting for the wrong thing. Hanauer states how he had “devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools… American children…would start learning again” and points out he had taken part of an event next to Bill Gates, Alice Walton and Paul Allen in donating money for charter schools (2019).

    Learning about everything that Hanauer has taken a part of and has devoted his time to, makes him a reliable individual in the topic of economic inequality and education because he is a wealthy individual himself who sees the mistake in the gaps of the economy. Stating that after all he did and who he worked beside, he was incorrect, Hanauer expresses he realized decades later how “educationism is tragically misguided” making economic inequality part of the real problem in America, not education as many believe (2019). The writer continues stating how he realized the problem to what he calls “educationism” is actually not trying to get the best education, because America does not lack a good education system, rather American workers being underpaid and no matter what educational level they have achieved, workers “have seen little if any [economic] growth since 2000” (Hanauer, 2019). Hanauer’s experience and perspective as a wealthy individual allows his readers to understand his point of view and see the real economic problem in America.

    Furthermore, Hanauer appeals to the reader’s logic by using statistics and history in order to make his argument worthy towards his readers. Hanauer states a little after his introduction, how by the year 1970, America’s education system started to lose its way which caused the power of the middle-class people to decrease as well as political conflicts to arise (2019). The writer continues stating that the middle-class individuals are underpaid because of how “40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me,” and this allows Hanauer to be seen as a reliable individual by those individuals in the high-class because he knows about policies and includes himself, as a wealthy individual, in explaining what’s wrong with the economy, and having someone from the same status stating something, makes it more believable. He also uses statistics from the richest Americans and discusses how 40 out of 50 largest family foundations, “declare education as a key issue” (Hanauer, 2019). The writer continues stating that during the 1970’s not many people were obtaining high school diplomas, compared to the 90% today (Hanauer, 2019).

    Furthermore, even though people believe that education is the cause of economic inequality, Hanauer states how the number of people who pursue a college degree has more than tripled since the year 1970, and this is what makes Hanauer’s argument believable because if education was main the problem in our economy, then not many people would pursue an education (2019). Moreover, part of the problem is that even if people obtain college degrees, it does not balance out the economic gaps that exist in our economy. The intended audience of Hanauer’s article are high-class individuals because he, as a wealthy individual himself, knows the wealthy class will always have the power to change things, and they must see the reality in economic inequality surrounding them. In his article, Hanauer assumes individuals in the high-class believe that poor education in America is what causes economic instability, and he tries to imply his realizations throughout his article by describing how he was incorrect in also believing that view. He seems to urge his audience to try and decrease the economic gaps between classes of individuals and balance out the wealth between high/middle/low class individuals because he realized the blame lands ultimately on the wealthy for not wanting to share the wealth and simply making individuals believe that education is the problem with the economy. Hanauer states how “educationism appeals to the wealthy and powerful because it tells us what we want to hear… can help restore shared prosperity without sharing our wealth or power,” and this allows Hanauer to demonstrate his knowledge about how the wealthy choose not to look at the issues around them that involve economic inequality because it does not benefit themselves (The Atlantic, 2019).

    As a wealthy individual, he makes himself more credible towards his readers in the high-class because they will believe him as he is of their status and is giving them another perspective to look at economic inequality and telling them the truth that they are blinded to look at. Moreover, the use of statistics and history allows high-class individuals to view Hanauer as an educated individual because he did not rely his argument solely on his own perspective, rather incorporated statistical facts and historical events. Pursuing an education does not completely mean a better lifestyle with a higher income, neither does it mean going from a low-class to a high-class income bracket just because of a degree, as many believe. As Hanauer stated throughout his article using historical facts, statistics and his own perspective and knowledge, education is not the main problem in America, but the economic gaps that are widening as years go by. A solution for this economic inequality issue is to balance everyone’s wealth and be able to prosper with hard work and dedication, rather than stay in economic instability for the rest of person’s life. Without a doubt, education is much easier to achieve in this century than it was years ago, yet it has never been the main problem as Hanauer points out. It is up to the wealthy class to be able to take action and be willing to make a change that will benefit all American citizens instead of simply avoiding the issue and focusing on their own benefit instead of all.

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    Economic Inequality and Education in Present-Day America. (2022, Jan 10). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/economic-inequality-and-education-in-present-day-america/

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