There's a new book out in the US, Dream Hoarders, which essentially says that the upper middle class (which for Americans is the 79% to 99% or so) are getting all the good gigs and positions in life because they're protecting their own children. No one can get a look in from outside the gilded group because you've got to go through a certain formulaic development process to gain entry to it.
The right college, unpaid internships and so on, the right college being predicated on being able to do all the correct extracurricular things at high school and so on.
We're not sure about this analysis to be honest, those "right" US colleges do rather bend over backwards to make allowances, to welcome in, those who are not from this background. Yet we do agree that there's far too much credentialism around.
But to our oft repeated contention:
As Reeves notes, this is not usually due to direct classism, although he’s appalled that American universities admit to giving preferential treatment to “legacy” students. Rather, those who got a head start in life are set up to succeed from the very beginning, when they attend well-funded public elementary schools, to the middle, when they get internships because of who they know. (I would also add that only the upper crust can afford to do unpaid internships.)
It's that bit about well funded public elementary schools. For if you look at actual school budgets per pupil around the US the most surprising fact is that the inner city schools tend--with obvious exceptions like the occasional rich enclave--to be very well funded indeed. Baltimore, the scene of The Wire, is regularly listed as being among the highest spending districts in the country.
We would, of course, entirely agree that a decent elementary education is going to be the starting point for any form of climb in a society. But this does bring us to that contention. It's not how much money is spent that matters, but how the money is spent which does.
America's inner city schools can indeed be entirely appalling, but they're not short of money, short of money in the system that is, rather than in the schools themselves.