Public education began in the U.S. largely to counteract the advantages children of the wealthy had because of the access they had to economic and social resources. In spite of this it is still possible to predict education outcomes on the basis of social class and race/ethnicity. Because of the faith placed in education to overcome inherited advantage, people continue to look for ways to make education work for all.

An article by Alan Finder in the New York Times reports on positive results in Raleigh, North Carolina. School officials in Raleigh sought to integrate schools by income so that students from various economic backgrounds mixed together, rather than being separated in different schools with different facilities. The article reports,

Some experts said the academic results in Wake County were particularly significant because they bolstered research that showed low-income students did best when they attended middle-class schools.”Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. “They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools.”

Apparently when it comes to education, class matters. When people from different economic backgrounds are given the same opportunities and education, their scores appear to rise dramatically.

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