ERIC Number: ED282972
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Apr-15
Reference Count: 0
The Double-Edged Sword of Equal Educational Opportunity.
Hochschild, Jennifer L.
This paper argues that the ideology of equal opportunity is simultaneously a message of hope and despair, that equal opportunity is a double-edged sword both empirically and normatively. The essay is organized in three sections. The first outlines the growing role played by equal opportunity in American history, thought, and practice, and indicates the time when five different problems associated with equal opportunity first surfaced. They are: (1) the promotion of equal opportunity for one group denying access to it by another group; (2) equal chances for all turning into a denial of chances for some; (3) the success of some group members creating or exacerbating the failure of other members of the group; (4) dangers created by the strength of the ideology of equal opportunity; and (5) the success of equal opportunity creates anxiety about its continuance. Section 2 asserts that these five problems, which different groups of whites faced one at a time across 150 years, are all occurring at the same time within the contemporary black community. It argues that the status of black Americans is extraordinarily complex and fluid because blacks are recapitulating in one generation the successes and risks of many generations of whites. Section 3 identifies conditions under which a reliance on equal opportunity is more likely to produce benign rather than malign results. The analysis focuses on the education of American blacks, but more general implications are discussed. (KH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Washington, DC, April 22, 1987).