• halo
    47
    I am American and I was educated through our public school system. I am humbled by the sophistication on this website and it seems there are several European members. I’m curious to hear what members perceive as differences in our educational systems. American public education vs private education is also welcome.
  • I like sushi
    1.8k
    Generally speaking my impression is that US education is poor compared to European education. That said to lump all European countries together is a little unfair.

    For what ever reason I believe students in the US perform poorly in mathematics.

    Higher ed is a different thing altogether.

    On a personal note the propaganda pumped out in the US seems much higher. By this I mean that I’ve met a number of people from the US who seemed to believe everything they were taught in history class ... but that said it does appear that in the US people are much more wary about their countries darker history (I’m from the UK and early on we were indoctrinated with the vile circumstances of WWI and the mistakes made).

    I’m curious about what is taught in high school regarding the war that was lost in Vietnam? My understanding is that it wasn’t dwelled on in the past, but now?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    it does appear that in the US people are much more wary about their countries darker history (I’m from the UK and early on we were indoctrinated with the vile circumstances of WWI and the mistakes made).I like sushi

    I'm from the UK too, where my schooling taught me that the British Empire was us spreading our civilisation to the rest of the world. It was us doing the world a favour, uncivilised savages as they were before we brought them salvation.

    ...

    No mention of invasion, occupation, theft and murder on a grand scale. Where do we think the Victorians got the money to build all that amazing stuff?
  • I like sushi
    1.8k
    Different generation obviously! Haha!
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I'm 64, and attended school from 1960-1973.
  • ssu
    1.7k
    Hi,

    I was in the some time at 1st grade and the 2nd grade in Elementary School in the US (public school, View Ridge) in Seattle in the early 1980's and otherwise I've gone through the Finnish education system. I visited some of my old schoolfriends in Seattle in High School.

    Some points: In the US elementary school after school hobbies and courses where arrangened extremely well and that part I (and my parents) enjoyed very much. In the Finnish system the school hadn't anything to offer after school for even the youngest children. Only later Finland has copied the US model and has put emphasis on this issue.

    Now the obvious truth: the American school was far more easy and lax. 3rd grade in Finland was way more difficult when coming from the US 2nd grade. And when visiting my best friend's high school as a 16-year old and participating with him on the education just for a day, I noticed really big differences. When coming to the High School waited to meet the principle and there was a model of the SAT tests laying in the secretaries offices. I immediately noticed that "Hey, these are easy!" and I could do the majority of them without any kind of studying beforehand. (The principle was actually a very educated man and greeted me in Finnish. When I responded in Finnish he was so delighted, that he said something in Russian. I had to tell him that even if we have been a Grand Dutchy of Russia for nearly 100 years, hardly any Finn talks Russian). During that day it became evident that Math was way more easier,the history lessons was very superficial and in the French class, the whole class seemed to be totally or at least partly clueless on what was been taught. I also noticed that at this stage the pupils were divided racially. In the 2nd grade everybody played together and it didn't matter if you were white, latin or black. With 16 year olds the divide into groups was quite evident (something that I never experienced in Finland as there simply here there were then no minorities to speak of).

    What was strikingly different was physical excersize. At that time, especially gymnastiks in Finland was, I don't know but I presume, copied from East Germany and I hated it in the 3rd grade after being in the US school were physical education was intended to be fun. In Finland, not so. And while in the US at such early stage (2nd grade) boys and girls excersized in mixed groups, in Finland right from the start girls and boys were separated and never excersized together (until dance lessons in final year, if that is considered gymnastics).

    Finland at that time came to be some kind of a poster child for education systems and for Finns to become such a model was totally unintensional and surpising. The teachers just wanted a "good system" and nothing else and were totally blown away that by some standards the Finnish system was top notch. Today Finland has fallen in the rankings as many countries have made it policy to improve their systems in the rankings.

    I would say that as noted earlier here, US education simply doesn't ask so much from it's pupils as in other countries they do. In the US they have simply tackled the problem of poor results by lowering the standards. That I think isn't the way to do it.

    The first thing Americans should understand that being a teacher should be a very respected job and teachers should be very well educated and well trained. And that the educative system has to be challenging. You cannot simply rely on foreigners coming to your country to make your higher education the best in the World. Sure, the Ivy League universities can prosper, but how about the hundreds of other universities and colleges?
  • halo
    47
    Well, America is still dealing with the fallout from slavery, which relatively speaking was not that long ago. Though we’ve come a long way, the media, movies and politicians especially continue to profit from dredging it up.
    Compared to European history. America is just a child. though one can argue we are an extension of Europe therefore share the same history.
    Of course. in terms of levels of education, I’m not trying to lump a whole continent together , but generally it seems Europeans are more astute in philosophy. Though I’ve come to discover America is rich in philosophy (Paine, Hume, Jefferson) and some consider us the ‘great experiment’, I can tell you very few people , in any circle, are familiar with these people let alone their views.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    I don't know that much about schools outside of the U.S. (and just for context, I graduated high school in 1980, and then did university kind of piecemeal in the 80s and 90s, when I could schedule it either between or alongside gigs I was doing), but as far as I know, one huge difference is that US undergraduate schooling is very different than elsewhere. In the US, undergraduate schooling is basically "High School II" --that is, like a formulaic sequel to high school. You have to take the same wide range of courses, plus elective requirements, where a lot of those classes have nothing to do with your major. You might only have a couple classes related to your major per semester.

    It isn't until grad school that you more exclusively concentrate on your chosen field.
  • ZhouBoTong
    609
    I’m curious to hear what members perceive as differences in our educational systems.halo

    I am American, but have spent went too much time comparing educational systems. The MAJOR difference between highly rated systems like say, Finland, and the USA, is consistency. Our best schools (at all levels of education) are just as good as any country's (often better). However, our worst schools seem to be from another planet, whereas Finland's worst schools are almost as good as their best.

    When we read that America is 24th in the world in Math (possibly worse by now), it does not mean that we don't train some of the best mathematicians on earth. We just let most get by with crap.

    Your question on philosophy may be on to something though. It is normal to learn philosophy in Europe at lower grade levels. As someone else in this thread mentioned, our general ed in college, has a lot of material that they are introduced to at an earlier age. We are starting to see the IB curriculum (an international program similar to AP classes in the US) becoming more popular at high performing schools in the US, but don't expect changes to happen too quickly in our current environment of STEM at all costs.
  • Grre
    155
    I read somewhere that American public education is municipally funded-which means obviously, that poorer/under privileged communities will have less resources, organization, and whole mass of issues. I presume that European countries like Finland have a better and less discriminatory funding system. That also explains @ZhouBoTong what you meant by America (certainly) having some of the best schools and best scholars in the world, but the majority are meh, are barely passable-some ridiculous. Canada is the same way (I went through the Canadian public school system) though we are funded provincially which is a bit more equal. Our adult education schools are deplorable though, and our universities are meh...I'm going to a British university in the fall so then I will be able to make a more adequate comparison.
  • boethius
    318
    I read somewhere that American public education is municipally funded-which means obviously, that poorer/under privileged communities will have less resources, organization, and whole mass of issues.Grre

    Yes, this is the case. If you live in a poor neighborhood, you go to a poor school.

    Just as important, this creates a massive selection bias of where people live, as anyone planning a family will move to a neighborhood with as good a school as possible (and people with more money use private schools to avoid interactions with the "exceptions"; i.e., poor kids that happened to get into a better school for whatever reason).

    What this means is that the poor are (much more likely than in Europe) to be segregated from wealthier people right from birth. Your family (again, more likely than in Europe) is poor and uneducated and has poor and uneducated friends.

    Having richer and educated friends is not simply a big advantage in life, it also has a large effect on your world view, as a poor person, but also a large effect on the world view of the rich person.

    If classes mix, you get learning both ways. A poor person with rich friends is going to learn what habits and strategies the rich use to get richer and what the world looks like from a manager / executive / bureaucrat perspective; maybe they implement those learnings, maybe not, but on average it's a big benefit to the poor.

    Likewise, a manager / executive / bureaucrat that actually knows poor people in their network of family and friends, is going have better insight into what the world looks like to a poor person, and is going to be able to much better discern what are actually helpful policies to society (that when a poor person complains that something is simply not fair -- like secondary education or healthcare costs or lack of maternity leave and childcare services or too small vacation time are all things the rich can simply afford but are major obstacles to being poor -- maybe it really is simply not fair and should be changed).

    And of course, the US proves the alternative hypothesis, that if the classes don't mix, not only is it easy for the rich to just assign blame for being poor to the poor, the poor are so clueless that they will happily internalize this blame. There's a really interesting studies, I think recently a good article in the Guardian about them, that shows that after Reaganomics in the US and UK, the perception that "it's primarily hard work and talent that results in wealth" actually increased significantly while social mobility decreased significantly. The explanation for this is that when conditions get much harder to deal with (and one can only rely on oneself), it's an important coping strategy to believe this is fair to stay motivated.

    The municipality funded education in combination with largely private higher education is a double whammy in terms of social segregation, which we should predict (just as many did) will result in a dysfunctional democracy as general knowledge and critical thinking falls below what even Bernays style social engineering by well meaning media talking heads are able to corral into a somewhat coherent direction.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Yes, this is the case. If you live in a poor neighborhood, you go to a poor school.boethius

    It's been a long time since I was in grade school/jr high/high school, but at the time, busing was big in the name of integration. You often went to schools 15 or so miles away from home rather than schools close to home.

    That may have changed though.
  • boethius
    318
    It's been a long time since I was in grade school/jr high/high school, but at the time, busing was big in the name of integration.Terrapin Station

    Ah yes, the time tested rule of using micro-level exceptions as the basis to infer macro-level trends.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Ah yes, the time tested rule of using micro-level exceptions as the basis to infer macro-level trends.boethius

    Not sure what that means, boethius. So is busing not common any longer?
  • boethius
    318


    I took some effort to indicate effects are on the aggregate and to not phrase my points in a way that opens up to "micro exception criticism" such as "aha, some people get scholarships" or "what about buses" or "one poor kid was at a rich school, riddle me that!".

    Was busing effective at avoiding economic segregation at the time in the aggregate? If you don't have any evidence of that, why would it matter if busing is still a thing now? It's pure deflection.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    ???

    When I went to school, busing was common. You didn't go to the school in your neighborhood just because it was the school in your neighborhood. Therefore, it wasn't the case that if you were in a poor neighborhood, with a poorly-funded school, you went to that school. (And vice versa.)

    The only way it would be the case that you tend to go to the school in your neighborhood (poor neighborhood/"poor school" etc.) is if busing isn't a big thing any longer. I don't know if that's the case. Is it?

    That was the point. An intelligent response would be one from someone who knows for sure that busing isn't a big thing any longer.
  • boethius
    318


    He who hath ability to type things into search engines, let him type things into search engines.

    He who hath not, let boethius doeth foreth him and pasteth the firstest resultith.


    [...]

    The trends we documented in this paper indicate an increasingly polarised pattern of school enrolment. US schools – both public and private – are increasingly segregated by income. High-income families increasingly live either in suburbs with expensive housing or enrol their children in private schools. The private schools their children attend are more likely to be expensive non-sectarian schools than was the case four decades ago. Meanwhile, low-income students remain disproportionately concentrated in high-poverty public schools, and even those low-income students in private schools are generally not in expensive, non-sectarian private schools.

    Given how difficult it is to build and sustain high quality educational programs in schools serving high concentrations of children from low-income families (Duncan and Murnane 2014), the increasing income segregation of US schools is likely to strengthen the intergenerational transmission of economic inequality, and reduce the potential for upward economic mobility.

    References
    Cooper, B S (1984), “The changing demography of private schools: Trends and implications”, Education and Urban Society 16(4): 429-442.

    Duncan, G J and R J Murnane (2014), Restoring opportunity: The crisis of inequality and the challenge for American education, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press and the Russell Sage Foundation.

    Murnane, R J and S F Reardon (2017), “Long-term trends in private school enrollments by family income”, NBER Working Paper No. 23571.

    Owens, A (2016), “Inequality in children's contexts: Trends and correlations of economic segregation between school districts, 1990 to 2010”, American Sociological Review 81(3): 549-574.

    Owens, A, S F Reardon and C Jencks (2016), “Income segregation between schools and school districts”, American Educational Research Journal 53(4): 1159-1197.

    Phi Delta Kappa (1992), "Gallup/phi delta kappa poll # 1992-PDK92: 24th annual survey of the public's attitudes toward the public schools", Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Cornell University.

    Stone, C, D Trisi, A Sherman and E Horton (2016), A guide to statistics on historical trends in income inequality, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
    — Researchers of this topic

    Please show your evidence about buses impacting these large trends.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    Jesus you're a moron. I'm not saying anything about buses impacting anything (aside from whether folks go to their neighborhood schools). Either it's still common to bus students or it isn't. You have no idea if it is, yet you want to respond like a jerk anyway. I don't know if it is still common or not. It used to be. Someone must know if it's still common, but you sure don't have any idea. Respond again with your "expert" hat on anyway. It's the Internet, after all.
  • ZhouBoTong
    609
    Canada is the same way (I went through the Canadian public school system) though we are funded provincially which is a bit more equal. Our adult education schools are deplorable though, and our universities are meh...Grre

    Darn, I guess I can't just move to Canada if I get tired of the American system of education :smile:

    I'm going to a British university in the fall so then I will be able to make a more adequate comparison.Grre

    Should be an interesting comparison. Certainly let me know of any stark differences.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    The United States does a good job educating the top 20% of students. They do well in school, graduate from the top universities, and generally perform essential functions in society.

    The 80% who are not among elite students are not one big undifferentiated lump, of course. Their performance ranges between abysmal and excellent, with the distribution skewed toward the 'average' and 'below average'.

    But then one has to ask, "What good does 'education' do?" I value education quite highly, but the fact is that its utility is not guaranteed. There is a significant difference between the life-outcomes of students with no social advantages (or significant disadvantages) and those who are loaded with social advantage. Social background matters. White students from low-income working class families will usually not achieve at the same high level that white students from high-income middle class families, everything else being equal.

    If education is worthwhile for its own sake, (the "life of the mind" and all that) then it is always worthwhile. As a ticket to upward mobility, it has less utility. Less utility because family background is a critical factor.
  • ZhouBoTong
    609
    The only way it would be the case that you tend to go to the school in your neighborhood (poor neighborhood/"poor school" etc.) is if busing isn't a big thing any longer. I don't know if that's the case. Is it?Terrapin Station

    I am not sure if this will help your discussion, but no, busing is no longer common. Brown vs Board over-ruled segregation in 1954, and then, throughout America, nothing changed aside from a few highly televised cases. In 1971 the supreme court suggested busing might be a useful way to enforce segregation. By 1974 busing was so unpopular that new laws reduced the implementation of busing. It continued through the 1980s but "white flight" made busing largely pointless (busing was used to integrate schools that were 15-30 minutes apart). If all the white people live in Orange County, then no amount of busing will integrate Los Angeles County. So, busing has largely faded away.
  • boethius
    318
    Jesus you're a moron.Terrapin Station

    Thanks for identifying me as the saviour of mankind, but I think it's a bit over-exaggerated compliment even for your usual dedication of precision.

    However, was Jesus, who you purport is me, a moron to care about mankind? It would be off topic here, but I recommend this new theistic theory in the philosophy of religion. It would be an interesting discussion, as well as your thesis that I am Jesus; like, we haven't proved otherwise as far as I know.


    If education is worthwhile for its own sake, (the "life of the mind" and all that) then it is always worthwhile. As a ticket to upward mobility, it has less utility. Less utility because family background is a critical factor.Bitter Crank

    Though I agree education is worthwhile for it's own sake as well as important for democracy, for the Nordic welfare state model, of which high investments in education and very equal educational quality (as @ssu notes) is a key part, also have the lowest correlation between poor parents income and their children's income.

    Intergenerational_mobility_graph-1.jpg

    Though other social policies also play a roll (and roll of parents isn't removed), I would argue high-quality and free education is the largest.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    "BUSING" were 1960s-70s court-ordered solutions to civil rights litigation over de facto segregated schools. How did schools get so segregated? Segregation of urban populations began in the 1930s as part of Federal housing policy. The government set out to increase home ownership among the white population (racial preference was explicit, not implicit), and at the same time to upgrade the quality and expand the supply of housing stock. The result was the massive expansion of suburban development on otherwise unoccupied (agricultural) land.

    The formal racial segregating parts of the law were ruled unconstitutional and then removed by law, but by the time those changes took effect the demographic die was cast. The financial benefit to the white population of the FHA and VA housing programs was huge and has endured. Public housing developments were designated for black populations. These were rental properties in which no equity could be accumulated.

    Importing poor black students into middle class suburban schools was hotly resisted, and as ZhouBoTong noted, has been abandoned.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    Importing poor black students into middle class suburban schools was hotly resisted, and as ZhouBoTong noted, has been abandoned.Bitter Crank

    I didn't realize it was abandoned . . . what did they do with all of those school buses? Haha.

    I was actually glad that I was bused to the schools I was bused to. It gave me exposure to wide cultural variety, it led to life-long friendships, and it even led to career opportunities in a broader range of contexts than I would have easily had otherwise. My schools were mostly comprised of an unusual mixture of inner-city ghetto kids (and the schools were in the middle of those ghettos), middle-class suburban kids, rednecks, and uber-rich kids.

    Do you know when busing stopped being the norm?
  • boethius
    318
    The government set out to increase home ownership among the white population (racial preference was explicit, not implicit), and at the same time to upgrade the quality and expand the supply of housing stock. The result was the massive expansion of suburban development on otherwise unoccupied (agricultural) land.Bitter Crank

    Yes, I'm aware this history, though it is not directly relevant to economic segregation; you could have rich largely black communities due to this history if inter-generational social mobility was high. But social mobility is low for poor people of all colours in the US.

    In other words, higher investments in education, free higher education, universal healthcare, more aggressive progressive taxation, and other social welfare policies, under the thesis that the Nordic model increases social mobility, would benefit also these communities of which the "die was cast" as you say. If a community has close to average education of the general population, then you can setup businesses in that community without a competitive disadvantage. So, under other policy conditions, these racially segregated districts can decouple from economic segregation, and some time later you may find architect, engineering and law firms, media studios, art galleries and other signs of economic vibrancy that the zoning permits, and perhaps whites moving to these historically black districts for good work (and vice-versa).

    The die was cast that they would be black, the die was not and is not cast that they would remain poor.
  • Le Vautre
    15
    I know a bit about American and Dutch education systems. Comparing with France, these three systems are far more relaxed (that is to say, they are pedagogic). Here, we have what we called "republican school" (often opposed to pedagogic system), i. e. (generally, because it's less and less regular): the students get up when the teacher enters the classroom and wait for the teacher to tell them to sit down. It doesn't happen in United States neither in the Netherlands. Food and phones are forbidden in class; friendly relations with the teacher are also forbidden. In French, we have a T-V distinction, so we always says "vous", which is formal, to the teacher, never "tu", which is informal. The lessons are more magisterial than in the US or the Netherlands; they are not interactive or fun (except rare cases). Concerning the lessons's quality, it really depends on the teacher. Some are great, other bad or even lazy. There's a lot to say. ... ... ! :smile: Nevertheless, there is no big differences between the level of an American/Dutch high school student and a French one. I even think that the French student has a better level in literature & philosophy, because our education focuses on it. ... ...
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    What stopped was court-ordered busing, or at least it was greatly reduced. Open-enrollment is pretty common now, replacing rigid school assignments. So a lot of buses are now collecting students and delivering them all over within the school district. More upward-mobile students (regardless of address) can select better schools within the district--provided there is still room when they make their choice. Attending school in adjacent districts is more complicated, because (for one thing) students have to arrange their own transportation. Since school districts are locally funded, crossing district boundaries can be financially problematic.

    Yes, I'm aware this history, though it is not directly relevant to economic segregation; you could have rich largely black communities due to this history if inter-generational social mobility was high. But social mobility is low for poor people of all colours in the US.boethius

    I disagree that school segregation Is anything less than directly relevant to economic segregation. The slaves were freed, but once free they ran into high impenetrable walls, and not just in the south. The great migration of blacks during the WWI and WWII out of the south brought large numbers of them to places like Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit. They generally found that the only housing available to them was in already ghettoed black neighbourhoods, which became much more crowded and much more dilapidated. When they attempted to move out of the ghetto, they ran into intense resistance or outright violence.

    The FHA program was intended to benefit gentile whites, pretty much exclusively. Blacks, Asians, Jews, and Hispanics were all excluded. Roosevelt couldn't get the enabling legislation for the FHA past the southern block in congress without those restrictions.

    Once the program began, millions of white homebuyers had the opportunity to purchase first-time homes which were well built in new communities--all of which would appreciate in value quite steeply. Homes that had a current value of $100,000 in 1950 were worth twice as much by 1970, and today are worth a little over 4 times as much. Appreciated housing value gave the white owners equity that could be used to finance their children's college educations, and give their children an enduring boost upwards.

    The southern congressional intention was to keep poor blacks poor--poorer if at all possible. Northern whites, while perhaps not as rabidly anti-black as the KKK, were not interested in the future prospects of the black population. The blacks were out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Blacks did, for the most part, stay poor -- or got poorer.

    None of this is to say that all whites benefitted from the FHA. In order to qualify for an FHA loan, one had to be adequately employed (or for a VA loan, be an employed veteran). FHA loan programs did very little for small-town America (until quite a bit later). Rural America didn't benefit much at all from the program. There were, are, and will be substantial populations of poor whites with very poor future prospects.

    Poor people tend to stay poor because they lack social capital. One needs to have parents that are competent climbers; one's family needs a reasonable amount of cash to successfully launch children into social advancement. An interest in, and the capability of obtaining education is critical. Having good local social contacts is important, and so on.

    Without social capital, people who are poor tend to stay that way.

    THE COLOR OF LAW is a 2017 book about the FHA -- very good read.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    When I was a high school back in the 1960s in small town US, classroom decorum was quite a bit more civil and reserved than it is now. Of course there were no cell phones back then, and gum chewing was forbidden. There were more enforced rules about proper behaviour.
  • Le Vautre
    15
    The French people from de 50s/60s say the same thing! :lol:

    Until the 1960s, it was commonplace here that the teacher must physically punished his students. And until the 80s, humiliating punishments were still in place... Not to mention gum chewing. :sweat:
  • ZhouBoTong
    609
    If education is worthwhile for its own sake, (the "life of the mind" and all that) then it is always worthwhile. As a ticket to upward mobility, it has less utility. Less utility because family background is a critical factor.Bitter Crank

    Huh, I haven't spent much time thinking about education from that view (economic mobility). It always just seemed a given that of course everyone should have equal access to education, and then those that choose to do bigger things (and have the drive and talent), at least are not held back by their education.

    But if I really think about, that (equal education alone) will have very little effect on societal economic equality. And when I use phrases like "equal access to education" what do I even mean? If my parents (guardians) are well educated I have an un-equal advantage. If my parents (guardians) care (or not), it matters.

    But isn't education a good starting point (well "starting" is probably not quite the right word)? How else do the workers of the world know they are supposed to unite? Isn't education a good place to hopefully create a tipping point at some time in the future? I am certainly being WAY too optimistic...but you do not seem perpetually pessimistic. You seem to have some hope that your somewhat communist view can come true. Where does the revolution begin if not through education? Or should we copy previous successful models (monarchy, capitalism, etc) and just hope that a few of the "best" of us can convince the rabble with nothing but rhetoric and a little sophistry?

    And apologies, as I am not sure I entirely understand your position. I don't think you are devaluing education, but you seem to be hinting at a better way to accomplish the goal of economic equality?
  • boethius
    318
    I disagree that school segregation Is anything less than directly relevant to economic segregation.Bitter Crank

    I should have been more clear. By "directly related" I meant "a primary factor of inter-generational poverty transmission".

    If racial segregation, in itself, was a factor in inter-generational poverty, then a black community would be more likely to stay poor because they are black.

    I think we are in agreement, but it is a pet peeve of mine for racist premises to "slip in by the window", which is what happens when we accept the premise that a "poor kid will likely remain poor for being born to a black family in a black community".

    When "a black community" is used as shorthand for a whole range of policies over many generations aimed at keeping blacks poor, then it's perfectly sensible. But this is a dangerous short-hand, as it reinforces the racist premise that blacks are poor because they are black or because they live with blacks.

    So it is not racial segregation that is a cause of poverty, but rather all sort of policies, many targeted specifically at blacks and many just targeted at the poor in general, that are the cause of both poverty and lack of social mobility (the poverty trap).

    Though the above is just a question of emphasis and don't think we have any fundamental disagreement.

    Where we disagree is that, what the Nordic model has shown is that the correlation between parents and child income can be significantly lowered; that there is a set of policies under-which poor children relatively easily make much more money than their parents.

    From a US perspective, this is of course not the case, and so whatever inequality there was 30, 50, 100 years ago is highly correlated to the income inequality now.

    However, the Nordic model demonstrates that this correlation can be broken, social mobility, fairly significantly within a single generation: parents to children.

    So, it is true that:

    Poor people tend to stay poor because they lack social capital. One needs to have parents that are competent climbers; one's family needs a reasonable amount of cash to successfully launch children into social advancement.Bitter Crank

    Because of US policies that make social mobility unlikely. But the Nordic model demonstrates that parent's income need not be the main determining factor. Which is why I said "under other policy conditions" those poor communities could now be economically vibrant.

    I.e. if the Nordic model was brought to these communities, the child income would start to decouple statistically from parent income.

    I would argue education is the most important element of the Nordic model. And to repeat, education in Nordic countries is the same investment per child wherever they are in the country, and the investment is high:

    In primary and secondary education, facilities are excellent, teachers need a masters degree in addition to pedagogical training, class size is relatively small, teachers generally have an assistant, lot's of extra support available, play/structured learning balance. In higher education, tuition is free and students receive housing and a stipend in order to focus on learning.

    Other things also benefit social mobility, such as universal health-care, rehabilitation based justice system, city planning, tax policy, welfare for unemployed periods, grants to start a business, free retraining to change careers, and so on.

    Why I would argue equal opportunity in education (which includes non-economically segregated schooling to have the opportunity to make friends of kids other social-classes) is the most important is because it leads to a generally educated population where perspectives and arguments are shared more broadly, and so people vote more effectively for all these other policies (changing and improving them as what-works and what-doesn't-work is discovered, both domestically and abroad).
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