Chapter 12

Problems in Education
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Chapter Outline
• Functionalist
• Conflict
• Interactionist
Immigration and Diversity
Race, Class, Gender
• Cost of college education
• Affirmative Action
• Functionalist/Conservative
• Conflict/Liberal
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Sociological Perspectives
 Education: the social institution responsible for
transmitting knowledge, skills, and cultural values ina
formally organized structure.
 Functionalist Perspective:
 Education contributes to smooth functioning in society
 Provides opportunity for personal fulfillment
 Provides opportunity for upward mobility
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Sociological Perspectives, cont.
Manifest functions of educ. Latent functions of educ.
 Socialization
 Keeps kids off streets
 Transmission of
 Keeps young people
out of the job market
for a few years
 Social Control
 Social Placement
 Change and Innovation
 Establishes social
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Sociological Perspectives, cont.
 Conflict Perspective:
 Schools perpetuate inequalities based on class, race,
and gender
 Students possess different levels of cultural capital
 Low-income children come to school with different
competencies in language and culture
 A hidden curriculum teaches students to be
obedient and patriotic, perpetuating the status quo
 Tracking teaches different skills
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Sociological Perspectives, cont.
Symbolic Interactionist:
 Focus on the affects of labeling and classroom Interaction
 Standardized testing and IQ tests lead to labeling
 Self-fulfilling prophecy
Children see themselves based on the unsubstantiated beliefs
and predictions of others
 Herrnstein’s and Murray’s (1994) The Bell Curve
 Argued intelligence is purely genetic and some groups (Asians)
are inherently “smarter” than others (African Americans)
 Labels such as “learning-disabled” and “gifted” greatly
affect one’s academic experience
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Problems in Education
 Functional Illiteracy:
 Unable to read and/or write at the skill level necessary
for carrying out everyday tasks.
1 of 4 adults in this category
Much worse for minorities than whites.
 U.S. companies spend $60 billion per year to educate
workers who are functionally illiterate
 Not just a problem for immigrants but also for native
born Americans.
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Immigration and Diversity
 Most immigrants have limited formal education and few
job skills, they rely on education to educate their children.
 20% of U.S. residents over age 5 speak a language other
than English at home.
 Some Asian groups send their children to “cram schools” to
help them be more successful.
 Transitional programs for newcomers have been fairly
successful for helping integrate immigrants.
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Race, Class, Gender and Education
Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) legally
desegregated schools, but today schools remain somewhat segregated
Schools with high percentages of minorities tend to have:
 High teacher-student ratios
 Less qualified teachers
 Lower expectations of students
 High dropout rates
Latino/a students face educational obstacles
 Little opportunity to attend preschool
 Few Latino/a teachers as role models
 Fewer than 10% of public school teachers are Latino/a
 High dropout rates
 Tracking (assigning students to specific courses) recreates segregation
in the class room.
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Race, Class, Gender, and Education,
 Boys and girls treated differently in school.
 Studies find teachers pay less attention to girls.
 Teachers encourage boys to be problem solvers more by
asking them more complicated questions.
 Activities are geared toward boys who are “more
 Girls are starting to make up ground by enrolling in more
advanced courses, but much work to do still.
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School Violence
 School violence is actually down since the 1990’s
 To reduce violence many schools use metal detectors
and require students to wear uniforms.
 Teachers often are victims of school violence as well.
 New technology has helped deter some school
violence but won’t fix everything.
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School Financing
 Most educational funds come from state appropriations
and local property taxes
 Tax base in city centers is eroding, disadvantaging schools
 Many schools are overcrowded and need major repairs
 One proposed solution is a Voucher system, whereby
families can “buy” education at their school of choice
 Cut spending on administration and non-instructional
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Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010
Problems in Higher Education
 Cost to obtain a college education has risen
significantly, many students must go into debt to get a
 Affirmative action
 Taking race, gender, and ethnicity into consideration for
admissions, financial aid, scholarships, and faculty
Minority enrollments have dropped in many schools that have
eliminated affirmative action
 US Supreme Court (2003) ruled that race can be a factor
for universities in shaping admission programs
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 Functionalist/Conservative:
 Greater emphasis on teaching students the basics to
prepare them with job skills needed.
 Work on reducing dysfunctions (school violence,
 Conflict/Liberal:
 Major restructuring must occur in education to reduce
 Interactionist:
 Reduce incidence of labeling , help students develop
self confidence needed to have greater achievement.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2010

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