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There is such a gap between the experiences of rich kids and poor kids, the differences between the haves and the have-nots will continue to worsen. David Brooks write in the New York Times about “The Opportunity Gap:”

A generation ago, working-class parents spent slightly more time with their kids than college-educated parents. Now college-educated parents spend an hour more every day…

Affluent parents also invest more money in their children. Over the last 40 years upper-income parents have increased the amount they spend on their kids’ enrichment activities, like tutoring and extra curriculars, by $5,300 a year. The financially stressed lower classes have only been able to increase their investment by $480, adjusted for inflation…

Richer kids are roughly twice as likely to play after-school sports. They are more than twice as likely to be the captains of their sports teams. They are much more likely to do nonsporting activities, like theater, yearbook and scouting. They are much more likely to attend religious services.

It’s not only that richer kids have become more active. Poorer kids have become more pessimistic and detached.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

This “opportunity gap” is painfully evident in Upstate New York’s cities. The Urban Land Institute ranked 100 metro areas on gaps between white and black residents in income, housing, school test scores and employment. Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse ranked in the bottom 10.

A Brookings Institution study found that poor people have limited access to higher quality schools. Rochester also scored badly in this study.

The consequences to society of unequal access to opportunity can be dire in terms of unemployment, crime and poverty. But there are also moral reasons to strive for equal opportunity.

It remains very true that anyone can “make it” in America. But when the barriers are high, fewer people will.

Links of the Day:

– A study has found creating a countywide school system in Ontario County is feasible, but it may not save money.

– How can bus systems attract people who don’t need to ride the bus? Should they even try?

– Remember “Dirty Dancing?” The Catskills wants to be known as something other than cheesy resorts.

– A test shows whether your cancer is good and you’ll live or bad and you’ll die. Would you want to know?

– PETA named Frontier Field a Top 10 vegan-friendly ballpark.

4 Responses to More Attention On “Opportunity Gap”

  1. July 11, 2012 at 3:30 am Lynn E responds:

    I help out many kids who are not only poor but whose family came from other countries and they are often not exposed to ideas and places that could lead to better lives. Their college aspirations are often no more than community college with little beyond that. What ends up happening is that they don’t finish even community college because they really don’t have a clear idea of what the possibilities are after that . They family presses them to work or get married and stop schooling because there doesn’t seem to be a clear reason for it. Schooling takes time and real effort to encourage and support kids and families to do more. The students need to be exposed to possibilities and people involved in those possibilities. It is good to look at programs in colleges that offer EOP and HEOP so that community college isn’t the only option. Inspire students and families to go to the best schools where they can be around peer groups that don’t lead them into doing little or nothing with their lives. Instead of getting bored and complaining that school is no fun, get involved and participate in activities. I have two former students who are heading for Ph.Ds and took advantage of Study Abroad programs and Internships during the summer. The family as a whole have a good outlook on life even though the parents are chronically poor here and aren’t able to do better. They have hopes for their children. The vast majority of people who are poor have very little exposure to camps, programs and activities that enhance learning and life. The adults in their lives weren’t exposed either so are unable to help them. It is a continuing process that the 1% seems to want to harden by making education boring and geared towards standards and tests that are created to keep the elite right where they are and failing those who can’t compete or choose to drop out of a losing game.

  2. July 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm Orielly responds:

    Then why do poor and minorities as a whole vote against Charter schools and school vouchers? If they want more opportunity and better schools they would back REPs and school vouchers.

    Its not the “rich” peoples fault for the poor city schools and their students low performance as this article wants to lay the blame on the ‘gap”.

    The voters in the city have the schools and lack of charters and vouchers they voted for. And their family units lack of value of education is who’s fault as well?

    Voting for the same party to run failed schools for 40+ years is who’s fault? Take responsibility to solve your own problems.

  3. Folks, try Charles Murray’s (of “Bell Curve” fame) new book “Coming Apart” which studied the white working class with an emphasis on white males.

    NY Times review of it here: Coming Apart.”


    “Illegitimacy, crime, joblessness — these are not merely the much debated pathologies of a black underclass, Murray finds. They are white people problems too.

    And what of the white upper class? In place of an aristocracy of inherited wealth, Murray suggests, we now have an aristocracy of inherited intelligence. Drawing liberally on his own past work, most notably “The Bell Curve,” a controversial 1994 study of intelligence, Murray says those with high I.Q.’s have replaced the old WASP elite in a modern economy that rewards brains over bloodlines.

    High-I.Q. Americans have come to dominate elite colleges. They tend to marry one another — “cognitive homogamy” — and produce children statistically more likely to be smart themselves.

    Cocooned in the same neighborhoods, this new upper class has its own culture. Its members don’t watch game shows or go to bars with pool tables in them. They are skinnier. They don’t smoke. They are, Murray insists, predominantly liberal. Yet this overclass, Murray finds, is also truer to the founding American virtues than is the white working class.”

    How are them apples?

  4. more on Murray’s Coming Apart:

    from a reason.com book review:

    “”Coming Apart is different. Very different. Now within sight of 70, Murray calls the book “my valedictory on the topic of happiness and public policy,” and possibly “my valedictory, period.” What he has done, this time, is to ditch the contrarian persona and stay squarely within the bounds of the conventional and the known. Still more surprising: Far from inflaming a sensitive debate, he has found a way to defuse one. By coloring so resolutely inside the lines, he has found, at last, a compelling, attention-getting way to tell a story about class in America.

    What is that story? American culture and society are bifurcating, Murray argues. At the top, you have the Whole Foods people. These are what he calls “the new upper class” and what I think of as two-two-two-one people: households with two college degrees, two incomes, two parents, and just one marriage. A college-educated elite is nothing new, but until recently its members were few and sprinkled through the population. “A narrow elite existed in 1960 as in 2010,” writes Murray, “but it was not a group that had broadly shared backgrounds, tastes, preferences, or culture. They were powerful people, not a class.””

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