Identities in Context - Race & Social Class

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The first article assigned for this class was Rothstein, Class and Schools. In this text, Rothstein argues that socioeconomic class is the single biggest factor in determining a student’s likelihood of academic success. Specifically he describes the Coleman Report, a study done by James S. Coleman from Johns Hopkins in 1964. The substantive portion of the report stated that the family backgrounds of the students was a more significant contributing factor to the gap in academic achievement than was race. Rothstein offers a very comprehensive review of a myriad of factors influenced by socioeconomic class and their potential effects on the achievement of students. He addresses genetics (Rothstein, 17), childrearing techniques (19), nutrition (44), alcohol and tobacco use (42), and a variety of health-related physical aspects (37-42). In the article More than just race: being black and poor in the inner city by William J. Wilson, the author analyzes the fragmentation of African-American families and the underlying causes of this breakdown. Wilson begins with discussing the 1965 report by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He illustrates the rise of the “black perspective” and its effects on the serious social scientific study of urban poverty (Wilson, 99). Wilson continues his article and highlights both the structural and cultural factors that have led to a rise in single-parent, female-led households in the black community. While he notes that this rise is also true in other ethnic groups (130), he points out that it is radically more pronounced among urban black communities (100-103). In his next chapter, Wilson argues for a new framework to understand this phenomenon with both structural and cultural factors (144). He adds that the two factors are ultimately intertwined and recommends that policy makers need to address the problem through this lens to effectively

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