Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream

By Cooper, Mary Ann | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, June 9, 2014 | Go to article overview

Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream


Cooper, Mary Ann, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream by Suzanne Mettler 2014. 272 pp. ISBN: 978-0465044962. $27.99 cloth. Basic Books, New York, N.Y. www.basicbooks.com (212) 340-8136.

The fight pitting public education against charter schools is a product of shrinking budgets and a sense of desperation about the state of education in this country. Public education is severely underfunded in America's most depressed neighborhoods, which spawns the creation of charter schools designed to give worried parents arguably better options for their children's education. So the cycle begins: more money is drained from public education - money that these schools can hardly do without - and diverted into charter schools that, in some cases, service sodally and academically exceptional students. What this flawed system sets up is a generation of students who move on to higher education and, according to Suzanne Mettler, the author of Degrees of Inequality, are Med there as well.

Mettler issues a stinging indictment in her rationale for the book. "America's higher education system is Ming its students. In the space of a generation, we have gone from being the best-educated society in the world to one surpassed by 11 other nations in college graduation rates. Higher education is evolving into a caste system with separate and unequal tiers that take in students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and leave them more unequal than when they first enrolled."

Mettler backs up her claim by citing a bit of history beginning with the 1970s. She explains that this was the decade the United States began to abandon its commitment to promoting higher education for its citizens. Previously, the Morrill Act, the G. …

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