ERIC Number: ED424622
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997
How Public Schools Support and Limit Social Mobility for Students from Low Income Backgrounds: A Chaos Interpretivist View.
Pena, Robert A.
Social mobility describes the frequency and extent that school structures and educational personnel offer students from low-income families the opportunity to improve their social position by fostering superior academic work, by encouraging them to have high educational ambitions, and by urging these students to complete schooling and to go on to college. Ways in which public schools limit and support social mobility for low-income students are described here. The report provides a historical account of education and social mobility, examines the meritocratic argument, and explores the claim that schools maintain social class systems. To probe these issues, 60 middle school students and 67 parents and guardians were interviewed over a 22-month period. In addition, classroom instruction and other school functions were observed at three middle schools in Midwest communities with high concentrations of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Analysis of the data resulted in three assertions, examined at length, on the capacity of public schools and school personnel to support and limit mobility: meritocratic assertions, humanistic assertions, and critical assertions. The study shows that educational practitioners rely on ideologies and school practices that limit social mobility for low-income students. The findings raise doubts about the compatibility of low- and middle-class ideologies. (Contains 42 references, 1 table and 2 figures.) (RJM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A