In our competitive world, parents concerned about their children’s future job prospects are naturally inclined to provide them with as many advantages as possible: private kindergarten places, tutoring, sports coaching and more.
Does it work? To some extent, but not as much as we like to think, and not necessarily to society’s long-term benefit, according to a recent article in The Economist (Jan. 24-30, 2015, “An hereditary meritocracy.”)
The best predictor of American children’s success in school is their parents’ educational level – and increasingly, the money those parents spend on supporting their child. Parents may or may not be aware that they’re sucked into this expensive competition largely because “funding levels per pupil can vary by up to 50% across a state.”
Add to that the fact that even universities able to offer lots of financial aid remain focused on accepting students who can pay their full way (especially children of alumni), and you have a system that is fast drifting away from the concept that success can be clinched by any hardworking person.
Florida senator Marco Rubio says these factors are “eroding” the United States.
As for parents hot housing their offspring, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study shows that “early years investment” does not automatically usher young people to success. The research shows that a good start is not enough on its own; a strong system with consistency “matters just as much and possibly more.”
Another report (Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy, Feb. 3, 2015 release) indicates that between 1970 and 2013, the percentage of students from low income families earning bachelor degrees increased 6-9%, while the percentage of those from wealthy families increased 44-77%.
Perhaps for every dollar we spend on tutoring our children, we should donate a certain amount towards scholarships for the less fortunate? Or for every hour we spend endeavoring to get our children ahead, we donate time or money to organizations like Big Brothers or to local reading buddy programs?