Friday, September 11, 2020

The Widening Education Gap May Tear the Economy Apart

The Covid-19 pandemic will exacerbate the disparities in educational outcomes, much as the Great Recession did.

A school year unlike any other. Photographer: Bloomberg

By Claudia Sahm

It’s no secret that in this economy the well off, or “haves,” have done very well at the expense of everyone else. We see it in the record-high stock market, the expiration of extra jobless benefits and the higher death rates among Black people from Covid-19, to name just a few examples. The return to schools will drive these inequities further part, with long lasting economic effects.

The haves get the bulk of the attention. Harvard University made news when it decided to make classes classes largely online, and again when many freshman deferred enrollment. With its immense endowment, Harvard will be fine. So, too, will the school’s typical student, who comes from a household with an income that is three times the national median. Privilege for the privileged.

The “have nots” are the ones we need to worry about. Among the 19.7 million undergraduates who were expected to enroll this year, less than half a percent will attend an Ivy League school, while millions will go to college part time and to two-year institutions. Moreover, when the have nots attend college, they get less out of it than the haves. Individuals who drop out of college are half as likely as those who complete a bachelor’s degree to say that the benefits exceeded the costs. It is even worse for those who attend private for-profit colleges, are the first in their families to go to college or are people of color.  Read  more >>