Monday, November 12, 2007

Cultural capital deficit

Posted By on 11.12.07 at 07:06 AM

Peter Sacks in Teachers' College Record:


"As is often the case for lower-income families, Ashlea’s parents always wanted the best for her, but they were as information-poor as their daughter, even more so.

"I met Ashlea through my wife, Kathleen, who was her mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. We wanted to set up a modest college scholarship fund for Ashlea and asked her to maintain a certain GPA in school to earn it. When we broached the idea with her dad, Gary, we were shocked to learn that he didn’t know what a GPA was, let alone SATs, AP courses, or any number of details that families must master nowadays in order to prepare their children for higher education.

"Compared to other more educated and affluent parents and students I interviewed for my new book, Tearing Down the Gates (Sacks, 2007), Ashlea’s cultural deficits put her at a huge disadvantage in the education system. Our system relies heavily on the ability of families to provide the cultural capital needed for children to succeed. If parents of poor children aren’t providing them with sufficient information and resources to thrive in the American school system, then we’ve got to turn to schools to do the job."


From where I sit, this is a variation on a theme that E.D. Hirsch has been pounding away at for a few decades. 

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