Use of Data
To strike a more encouraging note, we will take a look at what people are currently doing to try and right the ship, so to speak. A significant resource will be the Equality of Opportunity Project.
Through this website, Raj Chetty and other notable economists offer data, tables and graphs, and information about what the current landscape of inequality looks like, and opportunities for growth. And while this is only documentation at this stage, even the data alone is a step in the right direction towards leveling income distribution. Students (and therefore, beforehand, we as teachers) will have to evaluate our own skills in analyzing and interpreting graphs, tables, and other visual representations of data. We will be sure to spend a lot of time ensuring that the appropriate analysis of data is a skill that will be used to learn – something uncommon in social studies or English classes, but that’s just one example of the discrepancies we mean to right through this study. And the hope is that, through this study, students will view data analysis as something valuable and helpful in general studies. Once this is accomplished, students will be able to grasp visually the impact of economic inequality through graphs such as those which can be viewed on the Equality of Opportunity Project website even now – depicting concepts like the stark difference in the instance of American upward mobility for white vs. black children.
Opportunity Vs. Outcome
Another important consideration in this curricular unit is the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, explored by Anthony B. Atkinson. He asserts that both are important, and without both, inequality will be tougher to combat. In fact, proponents of equality of opportunity should consider the fact that equality of outcome must exist in previous generations for authentic equality of opportunity to exists for subsequent generations.
As a teacher, I have seen a lot of opportunity given to students in order to succeed, but for whom outcome is not considered: by parents, by educators, by policymakers.
Through the data and research in this unit, it can be seen that it would be more economically efficient – not to mention more morally sound, and fair – to promote
equality of outcome
, not simply opportunity, through college graduation. This is compared to that of high school graduation, where I perceive a lot of efforts towards equality of opportunity to be focused. Not to say that everyone needs to win the race for our economy and our children’s prospects to be fair, just to start it on equal footing, with equal resources with which to run. This curricular unit will explore college as a valid avenue upon which to place the starting line. This is how opportunity of outcome feeds into, nay, is an imperative aspect of legitimate equality of opportunity.
Lastly, we will also consider the imperative concept of
about it right. There is a lot of data, which is an important foundational informant of this knowledge. And to use that data well, we must be in the appropriate mindset; paradigm shift is a goal. World economists have, especially in recent years, toiled over the concept of inequality, how it happened and continues to, and what can be done to foster a fairer distribution of resources. There are wealthy and connected people who do not strive for this balance, but they are the minority (they’re not called “the 1%” for nothing). As more and more of America’s population is educated, it is more and more important to make these concepts part of that education, so that the majority mindset is at least given the opportunity to consider a balance of societal resources. The next Warren Buffet may be in a classroom somewhere right now, either learning or not learning that income inequality is an important issue to align with a growth mindset.