Amanda Barriatua, Ben Degandi, Lingshi Guo & Josie Yanzick


Hi class, my name is Mandy. I have many personal experiences with education and attended many different schools. First, I want to talk about my family and how my family dynamics have contributed to my diverse education. I was raised primarily by my father as an only child in Portland Oregon. He enrolled me in a French speaking international school from preschool through eighth grade. Then for my freshman year of high schooI, I was enrolled at St. Mary’s Academy, an all girls Catholic school in Portland. I visited my mother and two half siblings, who were always more than a state away, a couple times each year. My dad was an ER doctor and my mother is a hairdresser who provides for two children on her own. Just as you would expect, their lifestyles were very different. Along with these opposing lifestyles, came two examples of the United States educational system from opposite ends of the spectrum. My mom lived in Livingston, a very poor and rural town in Montana, and I was able to see the schools there that my younger siblings attended. I visited their elementary and middle school numerous times, and even got to experience their schools first hand when I attended the high school for one year.

The differences in education quality between my schools in Portland, and Park High in Montana, were alarming. The dropout rate at the local high school was sky high, they did not offer a single AB or AP program, and they had no counselors to help with college. There is no doubt that the rate of poverty in this community is in part due to that fact that it was “failed by the educational system” (p. 131 Sullivan). At Park High, I also experienced violence in schools, and even issues with race (p.131-132 Sullivan). Violence was a huge issue there because there were constant fights in the hall. I even saw an african american girl get teased regularly on the track team bus because she was different than the majority of the students.Within this experience as a whole at Park High, I was exposed to inequality and discrimination against social groups such as class and race. From the point of view of social construction, education functions as a mechanism for placing people in various positions in society (Sullivan p.125). Those without access to a good education, like many of my peers in Montana, are more likely to be stuck in a lower position.

Another very prominent aspect of my education has occurred more recently and continues to affect me today. During my junior and senior, back in Portland, I experienced something that is probably pretty rare; which was a sudden shift in social class. Over winter break my dad was involved in a nearly fatal ski accident. He was in the ICU for about two weeks and the hospital for over a month. He is currently getting by on his disability checks and struggling to pay off his nearly half a million dollars owed to OHSU (after insurance) in hospital bills. We went from extremely comfortable to financially unstable in a matter of months. Personally, I feel as though I had transitioned from middle class to working class. It affects me now more than ever being a student in college. In the week 8 interview with Allison Hurst, she discussed the barriers that many working class students may face in college. These barriers include being less inclined to ask questions in class and struggling to interact with authority figures. I found this very interesting, however I was unable to relate. I believe this is due to my shift from middle class. As a child, I was formally taught how to interact with teachers in private school and also doctors in a hospital setting. Hurst also mentioned that middle class students have the upper hand because they were taught individualistic values. I was fortunate to have been raised with individualistic values. Academic disadvantages for the working class is an example of intersectionality (Innequality in the United States p.464) because it shows how social groups are divided. Intersectionailty produces inequality (Innequality in the United States p.468) because certain social groups are given advantages, like the middle class in education. In contrast to Hurst’s theory, that college is much more challenging for the working class, I believe the working class have been taught certain values that actually benefit them in college. Working class students have developed a strong work ethic because many of them have taken on jobs since high school or sooner. I started working almost immediately after my dad’s accident because he feared I would not have any money for college. The work ethic I was able to develop because of my shift into the working class, actually benefitted me academically. Working part time in school helped me realize that everything must be earned.

My experiences with education have taught me many important things about social roles in schools. Having experienced education from two very different ends of social class and in two very different education settings, has made me realize how important it is. Despite the barriers for some social groups that still linger, education is improving and college attendance more common. A graph in our books tell us that the number of college and high school graduates continues to increase (Sullivan p.129). Our society is beginning to prioritize education and equal opportunity in education. It’s future looks optimistic. ,

Thomas J., and Kenrick S. Thompson. Introduction to Social Problems. 10th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1994. Print.

Olga Custer, Allison Hurst. Week 8 Interview Video: Education. Oregon: Corvallis. 2016. Publish

John Brueggemann. Inequality in the United States: A Reader. 1st ed. MA: Boston, 2012. Print.

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Hello, my name is Ben DeGandi. I first wanted to give a little background information on Education and my personal experiences with it. I come from a huge family that strongly believes the importance of education. My parents are both teachers, I have two aunts and one uncle that are teachers, my grandpa was a teacher and a principal and my grandmother was a teacher. In my earlier years I was even tutored during the summer and took many test during each summer from 3rd to 5th grade. My parents wanted to make sure that I would be ready for every next step. After either baseball, basketball, or football practice I wouldn’t get to go home and hangout with my friends or play video games. I would have to do many testing and readings each day. Kids look so forward to the summer and for that reason I really didn’t.

In the interview with Allison Hurst on Education, she says the number one job for working class graduate college women is teaching K-12. Which especially for my family seems to be true due to almost every woman in my family goes towards a degree in education. With this all being said, education was greatly pushed upon me. Throughout my whole life I’ve felt so much pressure from my family to get good grades, to get a good education, to graduate with a college degree. Basically my entire family has a degree which puts way too much pressure on me. In our textbook Introduction to Social Problems, it states, “According to the conflict perspective, powerful forces in educational institutions work toward social reproduction, or passing social and economic inequalities on from one generation to the next and thus perpetuating the existing stratification system. Just as well-to-do parents can pass their money and property on to their offspring, they also pass along their social and cultural advantages in the form of access to the education that will assist their offspring.” (Sullivan) In this situation my parents were always passing down their wisdom and helping me with my homework and helping me make flashcards or study guides.

With this being said, I want to talk a little about how none of this would happen and I wouldn’t even be typing this or in this class if my parents weren’t middle class with a great education. There are ton of kids that have no help and have no support from their parents. My parents help pay for my schooling and without that or their focus on the importance on education I wouldn’t be here in college. There are so many different situations for kids not getting the good education they need. Whether its that they are coming from a low income family, they have physical or mental problems, maybe its gender inequality, maybe it has to do with racial experiences, or maybe it’s a certain part of the country you are in. The list could go on and on. In the other book of readings we have, “Inequality in the United States, A Reader” In the very first reading it has a list of measures that will be different in other countries but the one that stood out to me the most was, number 10. “Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of child factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.” This really got to me and makes me really thankful for the situation I am in. Some kids around the country are working hard labor jobs that they are forced to do and not even getting paid for.

Although I believe education is very important, it has really gotten the best of me throughout the past couple of years. I go through so many stressful moments where I just want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world but I keep plugging along. I am so scared of disappointing my parents, and grandparents and the rest of family that It wears me out and keeps me up every night. Getting a good education is so important to me and has made me such a strong person to this date but It doesn’t come easy.


Brueggemann, John Inequality in the United States A Reader, 2012

Hurst, Allison; Custer, Olga Interview Week 8 Education, 2016

Sullivan, Thomas J. Introduction to Social Problems. Print.

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Hello, my name is Lingshi Guo, I am currently a senior student here at OSU, and I’m majoring in history. As an international student who came from China and has been studying in the United States for four years, I’m really interesting in the difference in education between China and the United States in the 21st century. In this final project, I want to specifically analyze some social problems, which are directly related to the education in China.

In week 8 discussion post, I specifically talked about my personal experiences on the inequality of education in 21st century Chinese society. In order to help people understand the problems of education in China, I will summarize these experiences and relate them to our class materials that we have learned during this term.

Firstly, one of the most serious problems for education in modern China is the inequality of education. As I talked about before, in many eastern cities in China, people have a higher chance to receive higher quality educations in their lifetime. For example, many public middle or high schools in these cities have provided a prefect educational system. For example, the schools usually offer many courses for students to choose from in order to cultivate their interests. Furthermore, many high schools in Beijing or Shanghai offer multiple exchange programs in order to give students the chance to study abroad. Also, more than 70% public universities and 85% private universities are located in eastern China, and those universities provide many different educational functions to people who live there. Meanwhile, if people go to western China, they will found the quality of education in this region is very low. As I mentioned in week 8 post, many children in western China have to quit primary schools or middle schools because their families can’t afford their tuition. Also, in many western China provinces, there are only a few universities or colleges for students to choose from after they graduate from high schools. According to the official documents from Chinese government, the rate of illiteracy in western China is much higher than eastern China in 2007. Thus, compare to the status in Eastern and Western China, people can see that the inequality of education between eastern and western China is becoming a very serious social problems in the 21st century.

In my opinion, the inequality of social resources is one of the significant reasons for the inequality of education between eastern and western China. Back to Sullivan’s textbook, as he mentioned in chapter 8, Once people control more social resources in their groups, the quality of education usually will be increased in many ways(Thomas J. Sullivan, p.126) As people can see, the three decade economic reformations which had made by Chinese government caused a huge economic imbalance between eastern and western China in the 21st century. In many eastern regions, the economic growths make local government have enough economic abilities to support the development of education in society. Also, in eastern China, people directly control much more social resources than people in western China. Different with the conditions in eastern China, many provinces in western China suffer from high rate poverty rates and slow economic growth in the 21st century, the educational system are usually limited by the shortage of financial aid. Thus, the economic inequality between the east and west also has caused the inequality of education in these regions.

Furthermore, the inequality of education in modern China not only limit in geography, it also happens between different classes in the society. In the 21st century, children who come from affluent families usually have much more chances to get education in their lifetime. For example, rich families’ children can enter top private schools after their parents pay a lot of money, and many Chinese teenagers who come from upper classes families can easily study abroad within their parents’ financial supports; however, for many lower classes people to say, they only have a few choices to finish their education: go to some lower quality public schools, or some free technical colleges. Therefore, in this way, people in China may have totally different conditions when they enter the educational system. For my viewpoint, Sullivan’s idea in the chapter 8 is a very useful point to help people understand this problem. As he wrote that “education is one of those valued resources because, in modern societies those with better educations tend to have more access to other valued resources.” (Thomas J. Sullivan, p.126) Same as the United States, rich people in China usually have more economic abilities to support themselves to receive a higher quality education in society, and lower income people usually don’t have too much choice for their education due to the poverty.

The inequality of education between different social classes in China not only happens before people enter the educational system, it also becomes a problem after people receive education. As Olga Custer and Allison Hurst talked in week 8 interview video, many American college students who come from middle classes or working classes always have to face many problems after they graduate from universities: less chance to find high-paid jobs, huge amount of loan and other problems (Olga Custer, Allison Hurst 22mins) The same problems also happen in China too. Once many lower or middle classes students finish their studying in collages, they still have a limited chance to find some good jobs in order to increase their life standards. In this way, the problem can be related to the concept of social reproduction. In the Chapter 8, Sullivan defined the social reproduction as the passing social and economic inequalities on from one generation the next and thus perpetuating the existing stratification system. (Thomas J. Sullivan, p.128) Once people who come from upper families finish their education, the best quality education usually bring a huge advantage for them to get many social resources from their families, and for middle or lower classes people to say, the education may increase their economic standard in the future, but they still have less chances compare to upper classes people.

Finally, the inequality of education also happens between different genders. In the 21st century China, although most of all parents will support both sons and daughters to study in universities; however, female usually are required to stop studying after they receive undergraduate or master degree. The reason is a lot of Chinese parents think that, female should begin to work after 23, and getting marriage before 27. Many Chinese elders believe that female will be very hard to find husbands if they continue study in universities after 25. But, for male to say, receive a higher degree is one of the significant things for his future. Normally, many parents in China will ask their sons to apply for master or PHD degree after they finish undergraduate education. Therefore, in this way, male and female usually have very different conditions when they get education, and female always be pushed into a inequality status. The reason for this problem can be track back to the concept of sexism. As we learned from this class, sexism is an ideology based on the belief that one sex is superior to and should dominate the other sex. (Thomas. J. Sullivan, 208) Even in the 21st century, many Chinese people believe that men are more important than women in the society, and men should receive more education rather than women because they will have more influence to the society in the future.

Although the educational system is very different between the United States and China in the 21st century; however, there are many problems which can be same in both countries. From what I saw in China and learned from this course, I feel that the inequality of education in modern Chinese society is directly related to many social groups, such as class, gender and others. Although those problems are getting reduced within the reformation of educational system in recent years, it will still existing for a long time in the future.


Sullivan, Thomas J., and Kenrick S. Thompson. Introduction to Social Problems. 10th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1994. Print.

John Brueggemann. Inequality in the United States: A Reader. 1st ed. MA: Boston, 2012. Print.

Olga Custer, Allison Hurst. Week 8 Interview Video: Education. Oregon: Corvallis. 2016. Publish

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Education has made me into the person I am today. My personal experience with education has made me understand the various inequalities, differences and issues that go along with the education system. I was raised in a family where we are taught to attend school until we have the job we want and have the money to support ourselves on our own. School is something that has been extremely important in my life every since I started. As a student, I have realized that the lives and opportunities of kids are often much different then mine.

I started out attending public elementary school and then followed by public middle schools both in the Hillsboro school district. During my time at these schools, I witnessed several different things that made me view the education system much differently. In these schools, there were very low performance from students and the dropout rate was very high. The students did not care much about the effort they put into their school work, and focused more on getting in trouble and skipping class then doing well and learning. What really made me angry was how the school failed to prepare students for their futures and let the poor effort, bad attitudes, and failing be an acceptable behavior from students. Along with the low performance and high dropout rates, there was a lot of violence and outrage that developed amongst students, which destroyed the educational environment. After my 7th grade year of middle school, my parents had me apply to a private catholic high school in Portland known as Jesuit High School. Jesuit was a college preparatory school that taught students how to prepare and work hard for their futures. Coming into Jesuit, I was very unprepared and struggled everyday with school. Throughout my 4 years at Jesuit, I eventually learned how to become a well-rounded student because of the adequate preparation that the Jesuit staff provided us with. They taught us how to communicate, interact, and act professional in times that we needed to. I am very thankful for the tough course load and hours of studying that made me into the student I am today. Our text discusses how the US education system has major controversy whether they adequately prepare students and provide them with the basic skills that will allow them to contribute to society (Sullivan, 131). My schooling experience taught me the importance of a good education system and how it creates well rounded and hard working individuals.

Looking back on my personal experience, I can relate what I have learned to the class material from this term regarding education. My educational experience reflects the interactionist perspective in our texts. On page 127, it states: “This perspective focuses on the social interaction between teacher and student in the classroom and recognizes that social expectations and social meanings are a part of that interaction and play a powerful role in what students learn and accomplish in school as well as how they feel about themselves” (Sullivan). Jesuit, succeeded in this aspect. They focused on interactions amongst teachers and students. If you received a low grade on a test, or looked like you were having a bad day, the teachers made sure to reach out and communicate with you, so they knew what was going on and showed appreciation and care for their students. These interactions taught me how to communicate affectively with others and made me feel confident, well cared for, and never alone. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford this high quality education and that is where inequality and differences play a key role in type of education a student receives. My experiences at public schools were much different. The teachers and kids rarely communicated, the teachers were there to teach, and the students were there to learn. If you needed help or guidance, you were advised to ask a student before you ask the teacher. I believe that the teachers poor communication and interactions amongst the students, was a major factor in why the drop out and low performance rate was so incredibly high. These interactions amongst teachers and students are important in building hard working and good communicating kids.

Along with the poor interactions amongst students and teachers, the public school I attended was majority lower class individuals and from the Hispanic culture in the area of Hillsboro. This had a lot to do with the differences and inequalities that played a huge role on the value of education that students received based on their class and race. Alison discussed the effects of class in her interview video during week eight. She talked about the importance of interactions in getting a job and succeeding in life. At 24:44, Alison reviewed that the middle class is coached with good interactions whereas the working class is not socialized to interact as easily and have a hard time doing it. This aspect not only has to do with the student teacher interactions, but also the communication that the students learn from their parents. Parents are role models in their kid’s lives. In our Inequality in the United States text Annette Lareau writes a fascinating excerpt regarding the unequal childhoods children receive and how it affects them differently. It discusses the importance of parents working on communication with their kids at home and how it leads into good interactions with authority figures: “In this study, there was quite a bit more talking in middle class homes, leading to the development of greater verbal agility, larger vocabularies, more comfort with authority figures, and more familiarity with abstract concepts. Importantly, children also developed skill differences in interacting with authority figures in institutions and at home” (Lareau, 70). This demonstrates how class plays a huge role as an inequality in student’s lives. The interactions amongst authority figures are so important when succeeding and doing well in life. With the low communication skills, students from lower class families struggle with interactions with teachers, parents, bosses, employees, and more. Which can ultimately lead to students struggling in school because of the lack of help, guidance, and skills learned from parents at home. Class often determines this difference because in higher class families the parents are generally more involved in their child’s school life. Regarding race, in our text on page 132, figure 5.5 resembles the percentages of high school dropouts in relation to race. Hispanic American is the highest for school drop out in 2011, where as white non-Hispanic is less than half of the dropout percentage. According to our text on page 133, “Many minority students feel isolated and alienated in majority white schools” (Sullivan). In my eyes, this is an example of inequality and difference and also leads to the high population of Hispanic dropouts.

In conclusion, several different aspects play a key role in the unequal education that students receive. Race and class have the biggest impact on the quality of education that students obtain and how far they go in their education. According to a graph in our Sullivan text on page 129, the rate of college and high school graduates continues to rise. This is because several jobs require degree specific employees, sending more students to college because of this high demand for college graduated employees. As time goes on, education will become more of a valuable resource, class will become more of an issue within the education system, and students will learn the importance of good quality interactions on their own development and education.


Brueggemann, John. Inequality in the United States: A Reader. N.p.: Pearson Education, 2011.


Sullivan, Thomas J., and Kenrick S. Thompson. Introduction to Social Problems. 10th

ed. New York: Macmillan, 1994. Print.

Week 8 Interview Video: Education. Perf. Olga Custer and Alison Hurst. N.p., n.d. Web.