“I don’t want them in my child’s class.” Snobbism or legitimate concern?

It is well known that economically poor students tend to be academically poor students. A recent article in the Washington Post said that studies show that students from low income families perform better academically, if they are in schools largely populated by students from higher income families. Economic integration was touted as a method of improving education.

It will improve education for economically poor students, but will it make education better overall? The article was carefully silent on the impact on the students who were not poor, and obviously did not address whether the impoverished students were brought up in ability at the expense of the average of all students. To put it bluntly, a middle class family reading the article has no idea as to whether adding students from low income families to the school population might make their children likely to perform worse.

The silence on the issue suggests that there was a negative impact on middle class students or at least the researchers were afraid there would be, and didn’t look at the data. There is a tendency for people to gravitate towards the average. However much it may benefit society to have economic integration in the schools, middle class parents have a legitimate concern when they say it will not benefit their children.

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