Classism in Schools Holds Students Back

By Betty Yirga
Elm Staff Writer

There are numerous issues in the United States that deserve the attention of both society and the government. Among those issues is classism, according to Heather Long’s article in The Guardian. This is important because people are facing prejudice on a daily basis for belonging to a certain social class. 

“Classism contributes to inequality in a way that it is invisible and an uncomfortable topic to talk about,” Long said. 

I realized that instead of discussing the problems that resulted from classism, we tend to accept myths about people’s living standards and begin categorizing them. This is dreadful for the United States because it influences our decisions, policies, and laws.

After reading the article, I learned that 37 million Americans live in poverty. This is due to the enormous disparities between income levels. Even though the United States has less economic mobility compared to other countries, additional factors have also caused the large income division in our society.

When we bring up the subject of classism, we have to consider how race plays a role. Most Americans, including myself, live by the term “meritocracy” (hard work and talent will be rewarded). Throughout my life, I have witnessed this belief becoming a reality. Of course, if you set a goal for yourself and you work hard towards it, there is a great chance that you can be successful. 

There are various obstacles that come along with it. When we look at the education system, we tend to see white privileged areas having access to good quality education. Schools located in areas where there are a majority of African Americans and Latinos see less attention given to the quality of education. 

For example, the high school that I attended was known to be the “ghetto” school in the county. The population of minorities at that school was large compared to the population of whites.

Government officials had their attention focused more on the “white schools” because those were the students they considered to have the highest GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and be “college bound.” This is where I want to bring up the term meritocracy again. 

I agree that hard work pays off, but what about the people that have to work 10 times harder in order to surpass all the obstacles and barriers that come with their racial identity, gender, and sexual orientation?

Education and race play a vital role in society when it comes to identifying classism. Although the process of completely recognizing and fixing this issue might take a long time, we can look at all the educational institutions that utilize policies such as affirmative action. This policy was created because it was evident that race and class influence people’s decision making. 

This policy has been successful at most places, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying to create more policies that aid the process of abolishing classism. 

I believe a movement like this is not only for those that have been negatively affected by classism. I encourage the “upper class” individuals to stop hiding their privilege and apply it for social change by supporting and advocating for working class issues.

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