All the interesting posts in my blog reader have to do with class this afternoon. I'll sum them up. Maybe by the time I get to the bottom of this post, I'll know how to tie everything together neatly.
In response to the Ladd and Fiske editorial, I wrote that schools can't improve unless a community is employed. In the comment section, I explained further:
While I don't know a lot of people in the gov't definition of poverty, I do know many people who skirt just above that line. The Near-Poverty income group. There was an article in the TImes, I believe, about this demographic a few weeks ago.
There are a lot of families out there, with 2 parents, who mean well, don't have drug addictions, own a home, have a high school education. This group got hit really, really hard in this recession. I've seen quite a number of families where the guy can't find work as a contractor, electrician, carpenter. The wife has to run out and get a secretarial job, and then come home and make dinner. The dad, even though he's home is too depressed to do supervise the kids or do the laundry. (Also, traditional conceptions of women's work.) The stress over paying bills in those situations is horrendous. It has a huge impact on the kids' education. The depression is contagious and brings down a whole town.
If I was looking for an academic publication (not), I think it would be interesting to look at test scores over time in towns that were hit especially hard by the recession.
Megan McArdle responses. She says that job progams or any government program is unlikely to change the outcomes in poor neighborhoods, because of the culture of poverty. While her points may be applicable to those in severe poverty, I don't think she accurately describes the working poor or the Just Above the Poverty Line people.
On the exact opposite end of the income spectrum, we have a couple of posts from Dooce. She wrote a post last week that described her suicidal thoughts. She received some flack from readers who said that she was rich and, therefore, wasn't allowed to feel sad. She responded that even though she was wealthy, she was allowed to feel sad. And her readers were also allowed to have problems, even though they were richer than most of the population in the world.
Maybe the point of this post is that class doesn't matter. The working poor operate pretty much the same way as we do. Same family structure, same values. But because of our education and the resulting careers and greater resources for our children's education, the middle class has greater opportunities. Also, rich people are allowed to complain about life, too, because there is always someone poorer than you.