For the past five years, I have helped seniors at the local high school get into college and find funding for it. The 12 students I’ve worked with so far attend a school that sits in an affluent neighborhood but draws from both rich and poor families, almost accurately divided by the proverbial train tracks. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how these students differ from the rich kids attending the same school, and why they need to expand so much more effort to get the chance to attend the same universities. (And it’s not only that they need to spend hours and hours filling out scholarship applications!)
Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis exactly captures the problem. Written by Robert Putnam of Bowling Alone fame, it tackles the difficult issue of the lack of opportunities for low-income children in a society that has become bifurcated. It was not the case for the author’s high school cohort (he graduated in 1959), which he shows achieved high levels of success regardless of the parents’ social class.