This post from The Society Pages stuck with me because the entire time I was reading it, I was constantly thinking of a book that I wrote for my capstone last semester. In Hope and Despair in the American Society,Gerald Grant explains compares the education system of Syracuse, NY (my hometown!) to that of Raleigh, NC. He basically criticizes and bashes on all of the schools in Syracuse and worships the school system in Raleigh. Moral of the story: Raleigh > Syracuse. To summarize why, he pinpoints the cause one event that happened in the 1970s when Raleigh passed a law to merge the neighborhoods from different incomes and classes so that the children were exposed to and interacted with other children from different backgrounds. He believed that by being around people of mixed class, they were able to achieve more (especially those coming from lower income households).

I think that this book relates to the post from The Society Pages because the post talks about teaching privilege to the privileged. He speaks mostly about class; that only white students receive a high quality education and they receive it from their white teachers. “White privilege still exists, thanks largely to structural and institutional racism, and that the playing field isn’t level…educators teach how people of different races and ethnicities often live very different lives.” This statement completely goes along with that happened in Raleigh, only substitute race for economic standing. It is interesting to think about this idea and reflect on it, because it is something that I had never thought of before. We all take our education for granted, but we don’t stop to think that other people didn’t receive a high school education, let alone a college one. The reasons for some not having an education can be different for each person, but the main reasons are because of class, economic standing, and race.

What’s weird is that students of my generation don’t think that racial inequality still exists. Of course it does. Bucknell (even though I love it dearly) is living proof that it does. I’m not saying that Bucknell discriminates against different races, but we are clearly a dominantly white campus with a small international presence. I’m not also just talking about the students. I am a second semester senior, and only this semester do I have an African American professor. We are definitely racially segregated on this campus, so I think that we prove the post correct saying that we are “teaching privilege to the privileged.” It’s also no secret that the majority of Bucknell students come from privileged backgrounds, so in a way we are also guilty for taking our education for granted. I think a possible solution for this inequality is to first recognize that racial segregation still exists in education today, and then try to do something about it. We are all privileged in receiving a Bucknell education, so why not give back to those who really need it? That’s one reasons why programs like Teach For America are so great because they take college students who are passionate about giving back to others who otherwise wouldn’t receive a quality education.

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7 responses »

  1. Paul Martin says:

    I think Hannah did an excellent job of incorporating elements of both her home and school life into this post. It’s awesome that she had the opportunity to read a book that focused on her hometown of Syracuse. I’m often spoiled with the literature and commentary on life in New York City, so I’m sure it was exciting for her to read an outsider’s view on Syracuse (whether or not she agreed with his view). I also fully agree with her comment about the Bucknell cultural environment. It’s often hard to point a judgmental finger at oneself and one’s surroundings. Bucknell could definitely benefit from a more diverse student body and the luxuries we enjoy at a school like this are almost unfair to hoard (aka privilege to the privileged). The cultural shift between Bucknell and home for me is always shocking, to say the least; the part of Manhattan I travel through on my way home is always the middle of Harlem at the base of the George Washington Bridge.

  2. KCasty says:

    Interesting post, Hannah! It is no secret that the family/living situation that you are born into largely determines the education you will receive. Unfortunately, though, the nature of your household and attitude of your parents also comes into play with regard to a person’s motivation to become educated and succeed inside and out of the classroom. While some less-privileged individuals may have the opportunity to go to school, many of them blow it off due to a lack of encouragement and support from their family and friends. We should all be thankful for our parents!!

  3. Much like Hannah had mentioned, the first step is to recognize the problem that exist. If you think about it, it’s kind of sad that it has been nearly five decades since the issue of the Civil Rights Act, but yet segregation is still prevalent in our culture. Even though I am not a big fan of government intervention, because most of the time they really don’t know what is going on, but maybe the Raleigh School Board actually got it right. It seems like a good idea on paper, but I wonder how much resistance this received from the parents who are economically better off? If the process for this legislation went by pretty smoothly, I don’t see why not try to implement it in other states. The key to breaking this social mold, starts at a young age. This is when you begin to develop your own opinions on things, and the idea of segregation gets introduced. If this idea was to be erased at an early age, no one would be inclined to act and behave that way.

    • hannahglos says:

      You’re right in thinking that in Raleigh, there initially was resistance to the law that made the children go to a “mixed” school. The families coming from higher classes were upset that their children would now be going to school with “poor and unfit children,” when clearly their child was better because they came from different environments. What struck me as surprising while I was reading that book though was that there was only resistance in the very beginning when the law was first reinstated. A few years ago, a few influential attempted to reverse the law and go back to having school districts that were determined by where you lived (a “normal education system”. While you may think that the wealthy families would be happy with this motion, they also protested this idea and preferred the current system, because overall it had resulted in their children achieving much more than they did previously, and they also consistently outperform other school systems nationwide. That being said, I think it would be beneficial to implement this system in other states, but I find it to be a more unrealistic goal now compared to when Raleigh did it 40 years ago.

  4. marko987 says:

    When I start living here in US, one of the first things I noticed how much people appreciate the education. Not necessarily because of the amount of knowledge they can gain, but also because of the job they can obtain and a lifestyle they can afford. I have a feeling that the premium education is very limited to the individuals from the certain financial backgrounds and race. I grew up in the socialism which is definitely way different system than capitalism. Premium college education is available to everybody at practically no cost at all (maybe up to $2,000 annually for administration costs). The only limit is that every college can enrol and accommodate only certain number of students, so the high school students with higher GPA are given advantage over less performing students. But even that seems fair to me, because it promotes the value of educational performance and intellect. Financial capabilities, race and family background definitely do not play any factor in obtaining the proper education. However, there is a down side of socialism. Generally, people earn smaler salaries because the significant portion of the paycheck is deducted for social needs (health care, education, public transportation).

  5. Jeff Galloway says:

    Hannah, it’s interesting what you said about only having an African-American professor this semester. I’d never thought about it before, but I’ve also only had one African-American professor and it was during my first semester. I grew up in a very diverse area (southern california), so coming here was a shock for me at first. But now, I just accept is as part of the school. Having professors of only one race would have been really noticeable for me when I left high school, so it’s interesting to see how Bucknell has changed my viewpoint; and how that ties into your point about privileged education

  6. Claire McCardell says:

    Interesting connection, I was also in Hannah’s capstone in which we read, “Hope and Despair in the American Society” and there are some definite parallels between the two. As Hannah noted, Bucknell is a prime example of how racial segregation and privileged class status often come as a twosome. I think it’s definitely been acknowledged that the education system is highly polarized, but finding an effective solution seems incredibly difficult. In the book, the author discussed the Boston Public School desegregation (a plan that attempted to mimic the successful Raleigh integration) in which students from selected black neighborhoods were required to bus cross-town to schools in selected white neighborhoods & vice versa to create a “racial balance.” Interestingly enough, there was strong opposition of this plan by both the black and white communities, and furthermore the costs and time of busing students cross-town proved to be extremely burdensome. The plan eventually fell through, and the Boston public schools are no more integrated now than they were when the plan was enacted in 1970.

    So clearly identifying the fact that there is a problem and stating our desires to change isn’t enough. I think there are few today who would be completely opposed to the principle of integrating school systems (if the costs of transportation, quality of education, etc. were small), and yet it’s nearly impossible (except for the few success stories such as Raleigh) in enact change. Back to the Bucknell example, I’ve gotten the impression that Bucknell heavily recruits international students, and I’m sure that applying as an international student improves your chances of being accepted, but yet the population of international students is a minority on campus. It seems like we’re doing everything possible to increase student body diversity and still it’s failed to produce substantial results. How else can schools integrate ethnic groups and social classes without flat-out forcing students to attend a certain school?

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