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How can motivated economically disadvantaged students in under performing school systems compete with students in wealthy schools?

Wealth is one of the main determents of a child's successes in school. Students in under preforming school systems are often unable to compete with students from richer systems. Even in the same school, the richer students, on average, do better. How can students who either come from an underperforming school system or a poor family compete with upperclass students for slots in highly competitive universities?

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    Mar 30 2013: The question is the answer
  • Apr 3 2013: We must change the structure so that there is not a marginal difference between the under performing and wealthy schools. This is a result of institutionalized racism which continues to dominate our culture's infrastructure. The book "Honky" does an excellent job explaining the type of social and capital resources that many people have that others do not experience because of the color of their skin, even though they may both grow up in the exact same environment. Great book to read by Dalton Conley if you get the chance!

    On a side note, I'm working on a project called Motivational Mondays in which I talk about my experiences on my YouTube channel to bring consciousness to how awesome and enjoyable this whole life thing can be!

    Here is a link to one of my latest videos, thanks for reading and watching :)


    Erik Myers
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    Mar 30 2013: If school districts earmarked the same amount of funds per each student in the district, there would be no such thing as "poor schools" and "wealthy schools." This is how it's done in some European schools, but American school systems, and the teachers unions, have been rabidly fighting this concept for decades.
    • Mar 30 2013: Most states, by law, require a set dollar amount set aside per student in each district regardless of poor or wealthy schools. The money allotted by the state is most often not the issue. The money provided by levy funds though can be significant and impacting.

      On a side note, teachers unions get blamed for a lot of things. School districts direct the money for the schools. Teachers unions have no control over where that money goes ultimately.

      What is more impacting is that "really good" teachers don't want to teach in those schools. Why? They are hard on you. If your life is threatened, if the kids are barely surviving, if their real life threats are such that school is one of the only safe places in their lives, education doesn't happen easily. And, thanks to our legal system, kids can not be tracked into high and low performing groups based on ability.

      The school that will be successful is the one that has an administrator that demands high expectations of students and parents and teachers. One that sets the bar high for performance. The school would hire, and support, top notch teachers and give them the tools to teach with. The students would be set to a high expectation and those that don't meet it, go into another program or somewhere else. The school would be a safe place to learn. These programs have existed but they require a special kind of administrator that is hard to find, teachers that are willing to work hard, and a district that is willing to pony up the money to support them. It can happen, but all parties need to work together.
  • Mar 29 2013: As long as you stay on your hustle and grind Theres really nothing that can stop you. It's the ones that stay hungry that get fed.
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      Apr 1 2013: I definitely agree with one part of this -- asking everyone. This is such a deeply rooted problem that requires everyone's ideas, especially those who are most involved in it, to be solved. Asking the question of many, many students not only generates ideas, but also encourages underperforming kids to believe there may BE a solution, and encourages very privileged kids to acknowledge their privilege and strive for a fairer system.
  • Mar 29 2013: If they are motivated, all they need is opportunity and direction for learning. Motivation is often something in short supply in children from wealthy families.

    Competition among students does occur in high schools to get into Universities, and is a fact of life. Prior to high school, motivated students can be challenged and guided to learn the lessons that will make them competitive. Public schools control the rate at which learning is to be accomplished, but isn't the important thing to learn the lesson thoroughly and demonstrate proficiency in applying it? Perhaps if the curriculum was less temporal based and more achievement based, motivated students could progress at their own pace. Similarly, perhaps a supplemental opportunity for those motivated to spend the time independently to learn advanced lessons, study skills, and how to learn independently, thus making them more competitive once getting to high school.

    There are no easy answers for leveling the playing field in academics or anywhere else. I think if you match motivation with opportunity however, you will have improved the situation.
  • Mar 29 2013: Drop out of school
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    Mar 29 2013: A few effective strategies come to mind, which are important to consider before the final two years of high school.

    One is that universities evaluate applicants by how well they took advantage of the resources at hand. The question they say they ask is, did this applicant take and do well in the most challenging courses available at the school he/she attended.

    Further, there are resources for supplementing basic education in outside activities, including specific programs at local universities and with local institutions that target potentially under-served populations. Examples might be summer engineering camps and programs through MESA or AVID..

    There are also other important parts of the application, such as actions and reflections on community service and leadership at your school in which students can demonstrate initiative and their promise for contributing to the university community.

    These are strategies one could undertake now.