“I don’t want to work at Walmart” (DeParle). Insightful as it is, this phrase can be perceived as a motto of all three girls told about in the article under consideration. Even though only one of them mentioned Walmart, it is the abstract idea, which is related to all three girls from the lowest class, who wanted to achieve success in their lives and break into the middle class. Angelica, Bianca, and Melissa used to study at one school. Their social background, i.e. belonging to the poorest group of society, and the dream of a better tomorrow together with remarkable academic performance are the specificities that differentiated these girls among other students and served as a ground for their friendship. Although they have chosen different paths for obtaining post-secondary education, their experiences demonstrate that education is not an equalizer. Instead, it is a tool for keeping the gap between the richest and the poorest wide and even making it wider over time.
To begin with, Angelica chose Emory University. Bianca became a part of a local community college. Melissa enrolled in Texas University. Nevertheless, all of them failed to reach their initial goal, thus making it possible to conclude that higher education is not for low-income strivers because they are forced to think of finding ways to make living instead of meeting universities’ standards. Even though the author of the article states that the poor-rich gap in the access to post-secondary education has increased from 31 percent in the 1980s to 45 percent nowadays, the lack of financial support is not the only cause of the existing inequality (DeParle). Instead, it is related to overestimating one’s potential, failing to find the correct balance between personal life (e.g. family and relationships) and education, and the lack of inner drive to achieve the set goal. In this way, Angelica’s story is the most poignant one. The rationale for pointing to it is the fact that even though she was provided with financial support, she failed to fill all the documents accurately, thus creating additional financial troubles. More than that, facing problems, she decided to give up instead of continuing to fight for success.
Angelica’s story supports the belief that public opinion and political culture play a critical role in achieving equality. For instance, most Americans tend to believe that economic background of an individual determines equality of opportunity, i.e. having equal opportunities for living up one’s potential regardless of their socioeconomic background (Ginsberg et al. 28). However, the girl was granted a chance to obtain higher education. Still, she failed to take it. Moreover, most Americans see education as a universal equalizer (Ginsberg et al. 224). It is supplemented by the belief that social mobility, i.e. moving from the lowest class to higher ones, is possible in case of making a significant effort (Ginsberg et al. 29). Still, according to the findings of the study, the poor-rich gap in the access to education is constantly widening, which means that these beliefs are not supported by statistical facts (DeParle).
Nevertheless, this article does prove that agents of socialization (e.g. families and social groups) affect educational aspirations (Ginsberg et al. 217, 219). It can be supported by the fact that even though all three girls had chances to obtain post-secondary education, all of them wasted these opportunities, explaining their choices by the fear of alienation from their social groups if they become better that their family members and friends (DeParle).
To sum up, the article helped to realize that income is a significant determinant of public opinion, as it affects the way people perceive their chances of success. In this way, beliefs are controversial because overestimating the role of income cannot coexist with the belief in the equality of opportunity and seeing education as a universal equalizer.
DeParle, Jason. “For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall.” The New York Times, 2012. Web.
Ginsberg, Benjamin, et al. We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. 10th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2015.