Don't like to read?
Socioeconomic status, according to the American Psychological Association, is the social status or class of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation. “The inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.” Students at the low end of the socioeconomic hierarchy often experience a diminished quality of life and education. This injustice needs to be addressed by society before any meaningful change can occur, especially since education is central to one’s quality of life and economic outcome.
Many would argue that young people of a lower socioeconomic neighborhood are not afforded the same educational opportunities as others and there are others who would say students of a lower social demographic are driven by priorities other than education. These preferences would include safety, food, and rent.
Students with low socioeconomic status are less likely to have experiences that will help them develop the skills necessary before formal education can actually begin. Research indicates that students do better when they are mixed with other students of a higher socioeconomic status than if the entire school were of a similar demographic. Communities, like North Lawndale that have a low socioeconomic status perpetuate the problem with under-resourced schools and high dropout rates.
The Chicago Public School system put some things in place to help combat this problem with programs that assist talented and marginalized students. These schools and the federal government entered into a Consent Decree in 1980. This allotted compensatory programs for schools that remained segregated, maximize student populations that will experience integration, and not arbitrarily impose the burdens of desegregation on a specific racial group.
In 2004, the federal government introduced a number of strategies to integrate. The resulting plan was to have between 15 and 35 percent of the student population be caucasian.
In 2009, Chicago Public Schools opted to use socioeconomic status to determine eligibility for magnet and selective enrollment schools.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 22.7 percent of the people who live in Chicago are enrolled in magnet or selective enrollment schools and 13.2 percent of those are at or under the federal poverty level.
Since the inequities in economic distribution, educational resource deliverables, and low quality of life cases are increasing in the United States and globally, Chicago Public Schools must continue to combat this reality by maintaining diversity established by demographic challenges and remain in pursuit of a fully integrated Chicago school system. Adopting this strategy should arguably give lower socioeconomic students a chance to rise to the level of their high achieving classmates.
Written by Jeanette Vietti
tcf.org: Chicago Public Schools: Ensuring Diversity in Selective Enrollment and Magnet Schools
apa.org: Education and Socioeconomic Status Factsheet
nature.com: Achievement at School and Socioeconomic Background – An Educational Perspective
Featured Image Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of City Year’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License