Sun, 2 May 2021
Despite the rising cost of tuition and a recent slump in college enrollment, many Americans continue to look to education to improve their social and economic status. Yet, more and more degrees have not led to reduced levels of inequality. Rather, quite the opposite. Inequality remains the highest its been in decades. In this episode, Cristina Groeger delves into the history of this seeming contradiction, explaining how education came to be seen as a panacea even as it paved the way for deepening inequality. Starting in the late 19th century—at time when few Americans attended college, let alone high school—she explores how schooling came to be associated with work. For some, especially women and immigrants, education offered new pathways into jobs previously held by white, native-born men. The idea that more education should be the primary means of reducing inequality, however, fails adequately account for the experience of many Americans and indeed is, Groeger argues, a dangerous policy trap. If we want a more equitable society, we should not just prescribe more time in the classroom, but fight for justice in the workplace.