U.s. Public Education System

952 WordsJan 26, 20164 Pages
The U.S. public education system contains tremendous inequality, much of which is maintained through the institution itself. We believe the system to be based on the principles of a strong work ethic and equal opportunity – key components of the dominant American ideology, which are in turn made reasonable by the schooling system. Furthermore, structural factors such as cumulative advantage, which explains how those who are successful gain additional success, offer an explanation for the inequalities in the school system that cannot be described or solved by money. Therefore, through the legitimation of the dominant American ideology and the process of cumulative advantage, the U.S. public education system perpetuates social inequality within the classroom and provides more power to those already born with greater life chances. In social theory, there is a long-standing debate over whether structure or agency is central in shaping human behavior. While structure refers to the underlying set of rules for how a society works, agency refers to the ability of the individual to exert choice or will within this structure. The interplay between these two distinct perspectives is key in shaping ideology: a way of seeing that appears natural and inevitable, and provides the rationalization for society’s structure (Marger 222). In the United States, the dominant ideology consists of various beliefs, including individualism, equality of opportunity, meritocracy, and work ethic (McNamee
Open Document