Mar 24, 2019

The perfectly legal inequalities in America's rigged educational system

Cover of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Nowhere are Americans more acutely aware of the system being rigged against them than in the area of education: That's why the Varsity Blues corruption scandal has resonated so widely with the general public.

The real scandal, as ever, isn't what's illegal: It's what's legal. We put together a partial list of ways in which the American educational system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful.

The inequality begins in pre-K, where rich kids go to school and poor kids don't. That's partly because, in most states, child care costs more than in-state college tuition. The result? The gap between rich and poor kids' math and reading skills has been growing for decades.

  • Once school begins, white students receive $2,226 more funding per year than students of color, thanks to locally funded educational systems. Disadvantaged students end up 3–4 years behind their more affluent peers. Of course, the richest families bypass the public education system entirely and spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to educate their children privately. They also dominate selective public schools.
  • Getting into college is easier for richer children, who have the advantage of $200-an-hour tutoring. Rich kids are also orders of magnitude more likely to get recruited to elite institutions. Add in legacy admissions and other ways of buying your way into selective colleges, and the result is that students from the 1% are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League school than students coming from families earning less than $30,000 a year.
  • College is largely unaffordable for the poor, who are also excluded from the pervasive institution of unpaid internships. The rich, meanwhile, benefit from massive tax expenditures subsidizing their tuition costs.

Why it matters: Inequality of educational opportunity doesn't just deprive the economy of trillions of dollars' worth of untapped human capital. Its ubiquity and visibility also makes it a key breeding ground for resentment and corruption anxiety within the 99%.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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Trump says peak coronavirus deaths in 2 weeks, extends shutdown

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is extending his administration's "15 days to slow the spread" shutdown guidelines for an additional month in the face of mounting coronavirus infections and deaths and pressure from public health officials and governors.

Driving the news: With the original 15-day period that was announced March 16 about to end, officials around the country had been bracing for a premature call to return to normalcy from a president who's been venting lately that the prescription for containing the virus could be worse than the impacts of the virus itself.

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