Earning One’s Way

I start teaching my Education and the American Dream tonight, and we’ll be working for the next weeks on complicating the idea that through education, we earn our way up the ladder by virtue of talent and hard work in school.

So it’s with interest that I read yet another article in the New York Times about rampant cheating in elite high schools and colleges and especially, today, this particular sentence:

They are convinced that they are bound for bright futures, yet not all are equipped for the work that entails.


If these children of privilege don’t believe the meritocracy and so justify their cheating, why is it that we would expect poor and working class kids to buy into our admonitions that they’ll be fine, if only they work hard in school?