Maintaining Inequality

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Title: Maintaining Inequality A Comparative Study of Educational Stratification in Argentina and The United States
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: de la Calle, Maia G.
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Education
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theses   ( marcgt )
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Abstract: A growing body of literature argues that schooling is not the great equalizer; rather, it reproduces inequality. Most of these theories concur that schools are not neutral enterprises, but sites of conflict. Educational inequality can be observed in the differences in approach and quality among public schools located in different socioeconomic districts. These differences in educational experience are reflected in the curriculum, resources, achievement rates, drop-out rates, and teacher qualifications, among other factors. Given that the current decentralized educational policies in the U.S. have not reduced the expanding achievement gap, my thesis project examines whether more centralized educational policies, such as a national curriculum, minimizes the difference in educational experience and academic achievement among the different social sectors. Therefore, I study the schooling system in Argentina and compare it with the US experience. According to the Argentinean National Education Law of 2006, establishing a common curricular structure and content guarantees high educational quality for all students. Thus, my study explores whether the law�s aims are observable in practice. To answer this question, I conducted content analysis of educational material, observed the classroom process, and interviewed teachers in three public schools within the same jurisdiction but located in districts of different socioeconomic statuses (low, middle, and high). The results reveal differences in the educational experience of children from each socioeconomic status, but particularly those of low-income in comparison with the other two areas. The national curriculum does not prevent differences in the academic needs of students and the educational approaches of teachers.
Statement of Responsibility: by Maia G. de la Calle
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hernandez, Sarah; Labrador-Rodr�guez, Sonia

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Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
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Classification: local - S.T. 2011 D3
System ID: NCFE004494:00001

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Material Information

Title: Maintaining Inequality A Comparative Study of Educational Stratification in Argentina and The United States
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: de la Calle, Maia G.
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Education
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: A growing body of literature argues that schooling is not the great equalizer; rather, it reproduces inequality. Most of these theories concur that schools are not neutral enterprises, but sites of conflict. Educational inequality can be observed in the differences in approach and quality among public schools located in different socioeconomic districts. These differences in educational experience are reflected in the curriculum, resources, achievement rates, drop-out rates, and teacher qualifications, among other factors. Given that the current decentralized educational policies in the U.S. have not reduced the expanding achievement gap, my thesis project examines whether more centralized educational policies, such as a national curriculum, minimizes the difference in educational experience and academic achievement among the different social sectors. Therefore, I study the schooling system in Argentina and compare it with the US experience. According to the Argentinean National Education Law of 2006, establishing a common curricular structure and content guarantees high educational quality for all students. Thus, my study explores whether the law�s aims are observable in practice. To answer this question, I conducted content analysis of educational material, observed the classroom process, and interviewed teachers in three public schools within the same jurisdiction but located in districts of different socioeconomic statuses (low, middle, and high). The results reveal differences in the educational experience of children from each socioeconomic status, but particularly those of low-income in comparison with the other two areas. The national curriculum does not prevent differences in the academic needs of students and the educational approaches of teachers.
Statement of Responsibility: by Maia G. de la Calle
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Hernandez, Sarah; Labrador-Rodr�guez, Sonia

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 D3
System ID: NCFE004494:00001

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MAINTAINING INEQUALITY: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OFEDUCATIONAL STRATIFICATION IN ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES BY MAIA G. DE LA CALLE A Thesis Submitted to the Divisions of Humanities and Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the co-sponsorship of Dr. Sarah Hern andez and Dr. Sonia Labrador-Rodrguez Sarasota, Florida May, 2011


iiAcknowledgements This project could not have been possible without the assistance and dedication of a number of individuals. First and foremost, I would like to thank my thesis sponsors, Sarah Hernandez and Sonia Labrador-Rodrgue z, for your encouragement, guidance, and support throughout my four year s at New College. Thank you for being such dedicated advisors, sponsors, and mentors. I would also like to thank La ura Hirshfield and Jos Albe rto Portugal for their time and interest as members of my thesis comm ittee. Thank you to Sarah Hernandez, Sonia LabradorRodrguez, and Jos Alberto Portugal for allowing me to carry on this project by sponsoring my courses and field work in Argentina. I would like to express my gratitude to Jan Wheeler for her time, patience, and dedication. Thank you for committing to helping me with this project in such short notice and for making me a better writer. Thank you to my friends for being a consta nt source of support. Thank you Lei for supporting me through thick and thin for the last four years. Caro, thank you for your unconditional friendship and fo r providing me with all the books for the thesis. Wewe, thank you for your patience and for being a calming presence throughout this long process. Le agradezco a las personas que me ayudar on a que pueda realizar la investigacin en Argentina. Primero y principal a los director es y maestros que calidamente me abrieron las puertas de sus clases. A Ernesto S. por tu tiempo y por contactarme con las escuelas; tu ayuda fue indispensable para reali zar este proyecto. Qu iero extender mis agradecimientos a Marisa S. y Celia M., por pacientemente explicarme como funciona el sistema educativo Argentino. Muchsimas gr acias a Nora y Lito, por hospedarme y cuidarme tanto durante mi estada. Finalmen te, gracias a mis amigos, Meli, Mailu, Martu, Dou, Andy, Alo y Juli, quienes me ayudaron a re-adaptarme a Buenos Aires y me apoyaron en los momentos difciles. Muchas gracias a mi familia. Ma, gracias por tu apoyo incondicional, por tu ayuda con mi proyecto, por tus esfuerzos, y por guiarme ha sta donde estoy ahora. Sos la mejor maestra que tuve. A mi hermano mayor, Sebi, que es lo ms de Zamora; gracias por siempre sacarme una sonrisa. A la patota de Bar iloche: gracias Moni por toda tu ayuda, especialmente durante mi estada en Argentina y la cursada en la UBA. A mi pap por su apoyo, por llevarme a todos lados y por malcri arme con facturas. Y mis a hermanitos, Javi y Fede, por ser mis compinches y mis primeros alumnos.


iiiTable of contents 1. Introduction…1 1.1 Procedures of the study…2 1.2. Significance of project…3 1.3. Structure of project…4 2. Theories of education…7 2.1. Theories of educational equality…7 2.2. Theories of educational inequality…8 2.2.1. Economic reproduction theory…10 2.2.2 Cultural reproduction theory…11 2.2.3. Active force theory: schools as producers and reproducers of inequalities…14 3. The role of schools in the United States…21 3.1. Educational segregation and economic reproduction…22 3.1.1. Residentia l and educational segregation...23 3.1.2. Segreg ated school system and educational inequalities…24 3.1.3. School as an apparatus of economic reproduction…28 3.2. Cultural reproduction …32 3.3. Social capital and education…38 3.4. The production of inequalities: Unequal distribution of knowledge …41 3.5. The market and education: Today’s schools …49 4. Education in Argentina: History, structure, and inequalities...60 4.1. Establishment and development of education in Argentina…61 4.2. The neoliberal years…68 4.2.1. Neoliberal education…71 4.2.2. Effects of the neoliberal education reform…78 4.3. Trajectory from the neoliberal era to the present...81 4.3.1. Today’s schools…82 4.3.2. Today’s educational problems…85 5. Methodology…94 5.1. Choosing sample school districts…95 5.2. Choosing sample schools...97 5.3. Triangulation method...99 5.3.1. Classroom observations…100 5.3.2. Interviews…100 5.3.3. Content Analysis...101 6. Data and analysis…103 6.1. Part I: Teachers… 104 6.1.1. Teachers’ qualifications…104 6.1.2. Discipline and classroom management…109 6.1.3. Curriculum and evaluations …115 6.2. PART II: Students and Parents…123 6.2.1. Diversity in classrooms… 124 6.2.2. Parental involvement and the “cooperadora” … 129 6.2.3. Parental involvement outside school…134


iv 6.3. PART III: Resources…138 6.3.1. Materials used in class…138 6.3.2. School resources …142 6.3.3. Reflections of students’ economic capital in the curriculum…147 6.4. PART IV: Content…151 6.4.1. Inequality in the distribution of knowledge: The lived curriculum and active learning ve rsus passive learning…151 6.4.2. Social and national consciousness… 160 6.4.3. The impact of textbooks on the unequal distribution of knowledge…165 7. Discussion and conclusion….173 7.1. Educational inequality in Argentina and the United States…174 7.1.1. Economic inequalities …174 7.1.2. Cu ltural and social capit al inequalities…178 7.1.3. Knowle dge production and distri bution inequalities… 181 7.2. Education and the market…183 7.3. Effects of a national curriculum…188 7.4. Conclusion…193 Bibliography….197


vList of illustrations Map 1. Jurisdictions of Argentina…75 Map 2. Districts of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires…97


vi MAINTAINING INEQUALITY: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OFEDUCATIONAL STRATIFICATION IN ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES Maia G. de la Calle New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT A growing body of literature argues that schooling is not the great equalizer; rather, it reproduces inequality. Most of these theories concur that schools are not neutral enterprises, but sites of conflict. Educational inequality can be observed in the differences in approach and quality among public school s located in different socioeconomic districts. These differences in educational experience are reflected in the curriculum, resources, achievement rates, drop-out ra tes, and teacher qualifications, among other factors. Given that the current decentralized educational policies in the U.S. have not reduced the expanding achievement gap, my thesis project examines whether more centralized educational policies, such as a national curriculum, minimizes the difference in educational experience and academic achieve ment among the different social sectors. Therefore, I study the schooling system in Argentina and compare it with the US experience. According to the Argentinean Na tional Education Law of 2006, establishing a common curricular structure and content guarantees high educational quality for all students. Thus, my study explores whether th e law’s aims are observable in practice. To answer this question, I conducte d content analysis of educa tional material, observed the classroom process, and interviewed teacher s in three public schools within the same jurisdiction but located in dist ricts of different socioeconomic statuses (low, middle, and high). The results reveal differences in the ed ucational experience of children from each


vii socioeconomic status, but particularly those of low-income in comparison with the other two areas. The national curriculum does not pr event differences in the academic needs of students and the educational approaches of teachers. Dr. Sarah Hernandez Dr. Sonia Labrador-Rodrguez Division of Social Sciences Division of Humanities


1CHAPTER 1: Introduction Throughout the last fifty years, the wea lthy and dominant nation of the United States of America has exhibited a progressive trend of social inequa lities. According to the 2009 Current Population Report, the number of people living in poverty in the United States was around 43.6 million— about fifteen percent of the population (DeNavas-Walt et al., 2010), the larg est percentage of the fifty-one years for which poverty estimates have been published. On an international scal e, the United States is also shown to have profound social inequalities. Fo r instance, in a UNICEF re port on “child poverty rates in rich countries,” the U.S. has the second highest povert y rate among the twenty-six wealthiest nations (UNICEF, 2005). Based on the persistent and exacerbating inequality in distribution of wealth, numerous scholars argue that schools in the United States evolved not in pursuit of equality, but rather to reproduce the social division of labor in order to meet the needs of a capitalist system (Bowles & Gintis 1976; Carnoy, 1982; Douglas & Denton, 1993; Jencks, 1972; Jencks, 1979; Spring 1976). Acco rding to this argument, the purpose of public education in the United States is used to control the sociali zation of masses and to allocate individuals to a fixed set of positions in society. Other school critics suggest that this argument reduces the school to an economic apparatus, when it is also a cu ltural and political apparatus (Anyon, 1979; Apple, 1979; 1982; Berstein 1971; Beyer & Apple, 1998; Wexler, 1976; Young, 1971). Despite the diffe rent theories on the mechanisms of educational stratification, sc holars concur that schools in the U.S. are not neutral enterprises but sites of conflic t. Educational inequality can be observed in the notable differences in approach and quality among public schools located in different


2 socioeconomic districts. These differences in educational experience can be noticed in the curriculum, resources, achievement rates, drop-out rates, and teacher qualification among others. Given that the current decentralized edu cational policies in the U.S. have not reduced the expanding achievement gap, my thesis project examines whether more centralized educational policies are an effec tive approach to achieving greater equality. More specifically, my project explores whether establishing a national curriculum minimizes the differences in educational experience and academic achievement among the different social sectors. 1.1. Procedures of the study The approach I take to answer this questi on is to compare the role of the school in the United States to the role of the school in a country that had an established national curriculum. By first identifying the mechanisms that lead to education inequality in the U.S. and then examining the educational expe riences in a nation that employs a national curriculum, I can contrast them and observe what the implications of having a national curriculum are. I chose to compare the school sy stem of the U.S. to the one in Argentina. According to the Argentinean National E ducation Law of 2006, establishing a common curricular structure and content guarantees high educationa l quality for all students. Thus, my study explores whether the law’s ai ms are observable in practice. I chose Argentina because the social struct ure of the country resembles that of the U.S.: in terms of the GINI coefficient, whic h measures inequality in the distribution of wealth (0 expressing total equa lity and 1 total in equality), the index for the U.S in 2007 was .45 and the index for Argentina in 2009 wa s .45 as well (U. S. Central Intelligence


3 Agency, 2010); therefore, the two countries ha ve similar levels of income inequality. Furthermore, it is pertinent to use the case of Argentina because its educational policies have important similarities with the ones in the United States: since the 1980’s, the public sector in Argentina has been highly influen ced by neoliberal economic policies based on the Washington Consensus and the “recommendations” of international finance institutions. Currently, both na tions have educational policie s that are market-driven and that decentralize the educational system. Th e fundamental differen ce is that one nation establishes a national curriculum and the other does not. To examine the role of the school in Argentina, I conducted a study in three public schools within the same jurisdicti on but located in districts of different socioeconomic statuses (one low, one middle, and one high). By comparing three public schools located in the same jurisdiction— the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires— the amount of funds received by the government should be the same in all institutions. The study has one independent variable— so cial class—and a de pendent variable that incorporates various variables within itself—the classroom experience. With each school, I chose to focus on the sixth-grade social studies classes as a way to evaluate how the same curriculum is implemented at each school. By conducting classroom observations, teacher interviews, and content anal ysis of educational material, I analyze if and how the educational experience of the st udents differs by their socioeconomic status. 1.2. Significance of project Carrying out this study is valuable because it serves as a frame of reference for both the United States and Argentina. On one hand, the educational system in the U.S. is still facing the problems that many researchers a nd social scientists have written about for


4 forty years. Therefore, a comparative study ex amining the effects of a centralized policy that establishes national curriculum can indicate if educational policies in the U.S. need to move in another direction. In addition, gi ven that both nations have similar marketdriven educational policies, th e study serves to show what implications these policies have. On the other hand, this study serves as a frame for Argentinean education. Existing research on educational inequality in Argentina shows that there is educational inequality among the twenty-four jurisdictions that divide the country. This inequality is caused, in part, because the per-student budge t varies between jurisdictions. However, there is limited research on how social inequalities within one jurisdiction affect education; unlike the U.S., there are few studies that correlate the residential segregation problems of a city to educatio nal inequality. In addition, ex isting research focuses on the external mechanism causing educational inequal ity, instead of also looking at the internal order of schools. 1.3. Structure of project The thesis is divided into seven chapters each presenting relevant material to answer the research question. The chapter subsequent to th is introduction, chapter two, covers the most important theories on the ro le of the school in society. This chapter is divided between the theories that suggest th at schools promote equa lity and the theories that suggest that schools promote inequality. Chapter three examines how the educational inequalities theories presented in chapter two apply to the educational system in the United States. The purpose of this chapter is to show, through the findings of existing research, that the role of th e schools in the U.S. is to produce and reproduce the positions


5 of the social hierarchy. The chapter conclude s by presenting how the current educational policies in the U.S. perpetuate and exacerbate the issues causing educational inequality. Chapter four gives the read er the context in which the study takes place: it begins by covering the formation of the educationa l system in Argentina and the economic, political, and social occurrences that shaped it over time. It also presents the current structure of the school system and existing rese arch that suggests that the school system is unequal. This chapter shows the significance of my study by presenting the limits of the existing research in Argentina on the role of the school. Chapter five explains the methodology used to conduct the study. Furthe rmore, it explains how the sample was chosen and what variables are being examined. Chapter six presents the findings of the study conducted in Argentina. The chapter is divided into four parts: parts one and two d eal with the central agents in the educational process: the teachers and the students; parts three and four deal with the objects that shape the classroom interacti ons between these agents: e ducational resources and the curriculum. As the data is being presente d, I analyze the key findings. This chapter demonstrates how the educational experiences of the students di ffer based on the school they attend. The last chapter examines how the theori es on educational inequality presented in chapter two apply to the findi ngs of my study. In addition, it compares the mechanisms that cause educational inequality in the U.S. to the mechanisms f ound in the Argentinean schools. Using the comparison to the U.S. as a frame of reference, I examine the impact of having a national curriculum in terms of equality. The project concludes by providing


6 an overview to the problems found in the school structures of both nations and alternative solutions.


7CHAPTER 2: Theories of education Understanding the role of schools and e ducation is fundamental to understanding the large structure of societ y. The school’s compulsory and universal character has made it one of the largest institutions in society; in addition, schools are highly valued because they hold a monopolistic power of distributing institutionalized cultural capital –academic credentials/degrees. As the educational enrollment and attainment in the United States increased vastly over the pa st century, the question of what role schools play has become more prominent and debated. On one hand, it is believed that education is capable of redressing social inequalities, creating social mobility. On the other hand, it is argued that despite offering equality in access, schools maintain social inequalities. Both of these theories will be expanded and refined throughout this chapter. 2.1. Theories of educational equality The beliefs that education is correlated to social equality hold that education is a crucial source for social mobility. This soci al mobility theory conveys that schools themselves have the power to change the natu re of the society we live in, making it fairer and more equal (Apple, 1979); based on this lo gic, all children have equal access and receive the same quality of education. These notions reflect a liberal ideology that has been present in the political arena of the United States for over a century; for instance, Horace Mann, an American education reformer and secretary of Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1848, called education “the great equalizer”(Glennerster, 1980, p. 45). During the 1960’s, the concept of educa tion as an “equalizer” was manifested in President’s Lyndon B. Johnson War on Poverty; pa rt of the approach to eliminate poverty was to establish and strengthen prog rams of compensatory education.


8 The idea that education allows for upwar d social mobility rests on meritocratic ideology which indicates that the educational system is de signed in an objective manner so that a student’s educati onal achievement depends on his/her ability and effort. Thus, “the educational system becomes the key mechan ism of social selecti on, to the benefit of both society and the individual” (Roger Dale as cited in Apple, 1979, p. 17). Supporting this concept, it is also argued that academi c accreditations, such as degrees or diplomas, fix the unfair distributio n of life chances. It is believed that the institutionalized cultural capital that schools provide th rough certification can make-up for discrepancies in other types of cultural and hu man capital (Tenti, 1995). In addition to this idea that education c ontributes to an equal society, it has been suggested that schools in the United States help create a tole rant and progressive nation. According to John Dewey (1916) in Democracy and Education : The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, di ffering religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new a nd broader environment. Common subject matter accustoms all to a unity of outlook upon a broader horizon than is visible to the members of any group while it is isolated. The assimilative force of the American public school is eloquent tes timony to the efficacy of the common and balanced appeal. (p. 22) Along this same line, it is argued that schools contribute to gender equity; according to this view, education –especi ally higher education– pr ovides women with access and opportunities for social inclus ion (Dubet & Martuccelli, 1998) In contrast to views of education as the great equalizer, however, some scholars argue education perpetuates inequality. 2.2. Theories of educational inequality The theories on educational inequality are rooted on the notion that there is stratification in educationa l opportunities. These scholars argue that schools cannot


9 establish equality in an une qual society: “we cannot vi ew education without also considering its societal context” (Persell, 1997, p. 7). For instance, when it is argued that education has promoted gender equality, on e can see that having equal access to education or equal accreditations does not mean that women receive the same salary, jobs, and positions as men. Michael Apple (1995) further notes that there is an “overproduction of credentialed individuals at a time when the economy no longer ‘requires’ as many high salaried personnel” (p. 15). Theref ore, rather than schooling giving equal opportunities through accredita tions, it in fact does not prevent unemployment and leads to disappointment. There are multiple theories about the reasons and mechanisms in which schools reproduce inequalities –these will be explained later; however, most of them concur with the idea that schools do not provide the same opp ortunities to all student s and that this is reflected in the unequal structures of so ciety (Apple, 1979, 1982; Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Carnoy, 1982; Gamoran, 2001; Lipman, 1998; McCarthy & Apple, 1988; Persell, 1977; Weis, 1988). Th ese theories view schools as “contested terrains,” in which “the struggle over ideas, values, and power in so ciety are acted out” (Lipman, 1998, p. 6); therefore, th e structures of dominance in society are reflected in the educational arena. Max Weber (1946) was th e first to use the term “structure of domination” in the context of education, to indicate that powerful and privileged groups use their resources to develop policies that maintain them in power (p.426). Supporting this idea, Michael Apple (1979) argued that educational in stitutions provide one of the major mechanisms through which power is preserved and challenged.


10 This notion that schooling is a major sorting mechanism congruent with the interests of dominant groups in society is prevalent in the theo ries of educational inequality; nonetheless, “postulating the importance of educational structures and ideologies does not explain how they affect educational outcomes. To do this, we need a theory of process, including a theory of how consciousness is soci alized” (Persell, 1977, p. 6). In the following sections, I discuss th e different theories on how schools reproduce and produce inequalities. 2.2.1. Economic reproduction theory Early critiques of schooling were charact erized by focusing on the role that schools play on the reproduction and mainte nance of the capitalist economy and its division of labor (Bowles & Gintis, 1 976; Carnoy, 1982; Jencks, 1972, 1979; Spring 1976). This theory, known as the economic re production theory, views schools as part of a system of social control; it is rooted in Marxist ideology, which suggests that the educational apparatus has to be examined historically and in relation to economic changes: “it is not the cons ciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determin es their consciousness” (Marx, 1904, p. 11). The economic reproduction theory is presented in depth in Schooling in Capitalist America (1976) by Bowles and Gintis. Based on the notion that schools are shaped by society’s structure of dominance, the authors claim that schools replicate the relationships of dominance of the economic sector: “t he social relations of education—the relationships between administrators and t eachers, teachers and students, students and students, and students and thei r work—replicate the hierarchal division of labor” (p.131).


11 This theory suggests that school s reproduce the class division of labor and the relations of production by socializing students into accep ting their position as directed by the schooling meritocracy (some succeeding in the struggle for social mobility, most not) – “a position which the school claims is fairly and equitably determined, and by inculcating youth with profound belief in the perfec tion and justice of bourgeois democracy” (Carnoy, 1982, p. 117). The Marxist educational critics and the economic reproduction theory have been criticized because of their tendency to “re duce all activities of sc hooling and society to the singular operations and requirements of the economy…and define class in narrow and restrictive economic terms” (McCarthy & Apple, 1988, p. 19). Alt hough the critics agree with the premise that education acts as a system of reproduction, they argue economic reproduction theory treats the school as a blac k box by ignoring that it is also a cultural apparatus which has an internal order and so cial relations within (Apple, 1995; Bernstein, 1977; McCarthy & Apple, 1988; Persell, 1997). What the investigators who dealt almost totally with the problem of economic reproduction were neglecting was the cultu re preserved, transmitted, and rejected within the institution. The way the curriculum was organized, the principles upon which it was built and evaluated, and, fina lly, the very knowledge itself, all of these were critically important if we were to understand how power was reproduced. (McCarthy & Apple, 1988, p. 21) Therefore, they develop a keener an alysis of the process of reproduction. 2.2.2 Cultural reproduction theory The cultural reproduction theory arises as another approach in explaining how schools reproduce inequality. In comparison to the economic reproduction theory, this approach leans more heavily on a cultural and ideological orientation, arguing that schools are both economic and cultural apparatu s. This theory suggests that schools use


12 culture as a mechanism of dominance becau se schools are strate gically designed to legitimate the dominant culture a nd benefit those who possess it. The cultural reproduction theory suggests that students belonging to the dominant groups are advantaged in school because th ey possess dominant cultural forms. To understand this relationship, it is necessary to examine how economic capital is linked to the cultural capital that gives certain st udents advantages in the educational field. According to Bourdieu (1986), economic capital is the root of all the other types of capital, including cultural capital: “ev ery type of capital is reduci ble in the last analysis to economic capital” (p. 252). The economic capit al of a person can be converted into cultural capital through various ways: for instance, owning a car gives parents the opportunity to drive their children across to wn to attend a ‘bette r’ school; additionally, economic capital allows parents to provide thei r children with cultura l resources, such as extracurricular activities or camps. Cultural cap ital exists in three main forms: in the embodied state (long lasting ha bits of mind and body); in th e objectified form (cultural goods and resources, such as art work or lite rature); and in the institutionalized state (degrees and credentials of the cultural capital held by a pe rson) (Perez, 2009). Although the institutionalized cultural capital, such as possessing a high school degree, is the easiest to convert to economi c capital, the other two forms are also linked to economic control and distribution. To comprehend how cultural capital is transformed into economic capital, one must understand what Bourdieu referred as the “habitus.” The notion of habitus stresses the set of disposi tions and taste toward culture, society, and one’s future that the individual generally l earns at home and then takes for granted: “Bourdieu suggests that differences in habitu s give individuals varying cultural skills,


13 social connections, educational practices, and other cultural resources, which then can be translated into different forms of value as individuals move out into the world” (Lareau, 2003, p. 276). The relation between cultural experiences a nd educational inequality arises from the fact that schools are institutions that store and distribute culture. The cultural experiences in the home facilitate the stude nts’ adjustment to school and academic achievement, thereby transforming cultural reso urces into cultural capital (Lareau, 1987). According to Bourdieu, schools take the cultur al capital, “the habitus,” of the dominant groups as natural and employ it as if all children ha ve had equal access to it. This gives children who possess the cultural forms of the dominant groups an advantage in school, while the children whose parents have lower levels find themselves at a disadvantage. Therefore, “the cultural capital stored in schools acts as an e ffective filtering device in the reproduction of a hierarchical society” (Apple, 1979, p. 31) The students belonging to the dominant social groups find themselves at an advantage because educators tend to perceive their cultural capital as the “nat ural and proper sort” (Perez, 2009). For instance, when children from higher social loca tions enter schools, they are familiar with the linguistic structures, aut hority patterns, and types of curricula employed in these institutions (Lareau, 1987). The meritocratic system employed in school s serves the interests of those students who have access to the prominent cultural capital, since educational achievement is determined by the ability to demonstrate a command for some of the skills which the cultural capital provides (Hogan, 1982). The repr oduction of class relations occurs as the school’s system of teaching and communi cation is based on the dominant group’s


14 “cultural arbitrary”: those differe nces in habits, tastes, attitudes, preferences, values, norms, and languages are among “the many cultural conditions that make it more difficult for students from disadvantaged families to succeed in school” (Gamoran, 2001, p. 139). Overall, the cultural reproduction theo ry suggests that through the use of “symbolic violence,” schools create and internalize forms of consciousness that reproduces class relations without having to re sort to overt mechanisms of domination: “School is seen as part of increased domi nation with a reduction of physical violence— the internalization of repression and substitu tion of symbolic for real violence” (Carnoy, 1982, p. 105). In response to these cultural a nd economic determinist theories, some scholars presented post-structural views that enhance our understand ing of the processes through which inequality is reproduced. These post-structural theori es bring back the importance of economic and cultural structur es, but move beyond them into institutional analysis; thus, they highlight the activ e role of schools in social reproduction. 2.2.3. Active force theory: schools as producers and reproducers of inequalities Post-structural scholars argue that while one must not disregard the school’s role in the economic and cultural reproduction of th e dominant social stru cture, one also has to consider schools as an apparatus of production. Education is both a “cause” and “effect” he re. The school is not a passive mirror, but an active force, one that also serves to give legitimacy to economic and social forms and ideologies so intimately connected to it. As it is just this action which needs to be unpacked. (Apple, 1979, p. 39) The notion that schools are an active force s uggests that education not only reflects class dynamics, but helps to form them (Hogan 1982). Thus, school can be viewed as a “double-sided mirror” which takes the class fo rces outside of it and produces them as


15 well. This theory suggests that cultural distribution and economic power are intimately intertwined in the formal corpus of school knowledge (Apple, 1979). Based on this idea, it is argued that, to understand the mechan ism of dominance employed in schooling, instead of input-output studies of school achievement, one must examine the complex interactions that oc cur in classrooms. Within th e school, culture is produced and reproduced, making culture a commodity rather than a lived experience; this way, schools become sites that produce ideo logies and control knowledge. This “active force theory” maintains that sc hools, in addition to being institutions of cultural and economic reproduction, cont ribute to the creation of ideological hegemony (Apple, 1979; Berstein, 1971). Hegemony acts to “saturate” our very cons ciousness, so that the educational, economic and social world we see and interact with, and the commonsense interpretations we put on it, becomes the tout court the only world. (Apple, 1979, p. 4) Therefore, schools are structured so that with in the institution they create and recreate the ideological hegemony of the dominant cla sses and class segments of our society. Based on this idea, it is argued that “there are grounds for proposing that the U.S. relies heavily upon the educational syst em to recreate and legitimate structures of dominance in society” (Persell, 1977, p. 6). The theory of school as a system of pr oduction and reproduction centered its ideas on the fact that schools have a certain degr ee of autonomy. It is believed that while school is shaped by the dominant structures of society, its relative autonomy is “the basic means whereby the consciousness of the agents of symbolic control is legitimatized and maintained and, in cooperation with th e family, reproduced” (Bernstein, 1977, p. 190). Thus, the educational system not only reflect s a social order, but on the contrary, by


16 ensuring its relative autonomy, it is in a positi on to use its internal functioning for social reproduction. Furthermore, the school’s pedagogi cal authority allows it to inculcate a hegemonic ideology without putting into ques tion the social author ity on which it rests (Dubet & Martuccelli, 1998). The conditions that allow for this ideology to be maintained need to be continuously rebuilt during the day-to-d ay school interactions. Yet, thinking of schools as the producer s and reproducers of society’s dominant social relations does not answer how hege mony comes about and how is it produced through the day-to-day occurrences at schools. Therefor e, based on the theory that schools are relatively autonomous institu tions that produce ideological hegemony, a theory on the production of knowledge was developed. This theory examines the mechanisms within the school setting that maintain the hegemony and legitimate inequality. To understand fully how schools function as “producers,” we must view them as institutions that process knowledge and serv e an ideological func tion (Apple, 1979). We first have to reject the noti on that knowledge is a neutra l “artifact,” given that the knowledge distributed and inculcated in classr ooms represents selections from a much larger universe of possible knowledge. Therefor e, we must question what should count as knowledge, and who shall control the selecti on and distribution of knowledge? Scholars suggest that social interests are embodied in the knowledge form and that the distribution of knowledge reflects the dominant stru ctures of society (Anyon, 1979; Apple, 1979; 1982; Beyer & Apple, 1998; Wexler, 1976; Young, 1971). Those in positions of power will attempt to define what is taken as knowledge, how accessible to different groups any knowledge is, and what are accepted relationships between different knowledge areas and between those who have access to them and make them available. (Young, 1971, pp. 31-32)


17 By perceiving schools to be an appa ratus that processes both people and knowledge, we can comprehend how they function as both a productive and a reproductive tool. The “processing” of knowle dge in schools implies two mechanisms: on one hand, schools unevenly distribute knowledge among social and economic classes and groups of different power, thus reproduci ng inequalities. On the other hand, schools produce particular kinds of knowledge form s that are necessary to legitimate and maintain the structures of an unequal society. On the matter of schools reproducing soci al inequalities, it is suggested the unequal distribution of knowledge is achieved through the employment of curricula that differs by the social class of the students. A ccording to this idea, schools employ a hidden curriculum in everyday classroom interacti ons and through living in, and coping with, institutional expectations; su ch curriculum serves to inculcate norms, values, and dispositions in accordance to the students ’ social class (Apple, 1979). For instance, a number of scholars “argue that this differential hidden curricul um can be seen in the fact that working-class students ar e taught punctuality, neatness, respect for authority, and other elements of habit formation” (A pple, 1982, p. 67). In contrast, high-income students are taught to think independently and critically and to deve lop their analytical skills (Anyon, 1981). Thus, by implementing a c overt curriculum, schools maintain the ideological hegemony of the dominant groups. Furthermore, other critical theorists c onsider both the hidden and the official curriculum significant, not because of thei r explicit teachings, but “because of the knowledge it legitimizes and delegitimizes, the effects of this process, and the manner in


18 which it distributes this knowledge differently to different classes of students” (Posner, 1998, p. 95). According to this notion, schools produce a “lived curriculum” (also known as “in-use-curriculum”) through the “bodily and linguistic interactions among texts, students, and teachers in educational institut ions and between these institutions and other sites” (Apple, 2003, p. 26). Since schools cont rol meaning, the teaching of different dispositions and values to di fferent school populations contribut ed to shaping this “lived curriculum.” For instance, “the categories educators employ to think about, plan, and evaluate school life are consistently bi ased towards extant and unequal social regularities” (Apple, 1982, p. 41). Howeve r, according to Michael Apple (1979), educators do not necessary intend to produce th is inequality, but rath er, they are unaware of it. For many of them these are “natur ally” generated and commonsense assumptions that shape their practices about teaching and learning, what is normal and abnormal behavior, and what is importa nt and unimportant knowledge. We can also see that the structure of the school give teachers the au tonomy and authority to produce this “in-usecurriculum”; the most important pedagogic, cu rricular, and evaluati ve activities are designed in such a way that st udents only interact with the teacher on a one to one level, and rarely with each other (Apple, 1982). Another way in which a “lived curr iculum” and knowledge are produced in schools is through the interaction with text books and other curriculum material. These also play a critical role in the production of inequalities because they are representations of what powerful groups have defined as le gitimate knowledge and they speak to ongoing struggles over cultural legitimacy (Apple, 2003). It is important to understand that textbooks are not objective; they are the results of political, economic, and cultural


19 battles. Textbooks portray the interests of the people who wrote and publish them; they embody what Raymond Williams (1 958) called “selective tradition”: someone’s selection of knowledge and culture. Therefore, these tool s help maintain privilege in cultural ways by taking the form and content of the cu ltural and knowledge of powerful groups and defining it as legitimate knowledge to be preserved and passed on. Given that culture is a lived e xperience, schools produce knowledge and meanings that contribute to inequality. Ho wever, since culture is also a commodified experience, this production contributes to the reproduction of inequalities. Schools produce important technical/mechanical knowle dge that is accompanied by ideologies; this knowledge is commodified and accumulate d as a form of cultural capital which advantages the most powerful groups. Theref ore, the school’s crea tion, organization, and distribution of meanings cont ributes to a process of capita l accumulation and legitimating ideologies (Apple, 1982). The capital formed in schools is distributed differently in accordance to the social position of the student s; the knowledge a stude nt received serves to legitimate his or her position in the social hierarchy. This leads to a continuous cycle, in which students leave the schools with certain technical/mecha nical knowledge and accumulated cultural capital that was created in it; these acquisitions define their place in their workplace and in society; each of these sites transfor ms knowledge until it reenters the schools and is reproduced and produced again. Conclusion Throughout this chapter I explained that theories on the role of education in society can be divided into tw o positions: those that view sc hools as instit utions that create social mobility and those that view schools as reproducers of inequality. The


20 educational inequality discourse is further s ubdivided into various theories, each of which suggests a mechanism employed in schools that creates inequality. The economic reproduction theory suggests that schools are economic apparatus that are configured to satisfy the needs of the economic sphere of a nation; thus, schools reproduce the economic hierarchy and its inequalities by socializing and educating students with particular skills and values according to their social class. Cultural reproduction theory deepens our understanding of this process, by noting how schools ar e cultural apparatus that reproduces inequalities by rewarding th e dominant groups’ cultural capital. This theory suggests that schools take the cultu ral forms of the dominant groups and apply it as natural; therefore, the students who already possess them are advantaged. Many scholars, however, argue th at schools not only reproduce inequalities through economic and cultural mechanisms, but also produce them by creating knowledge and distributing it unequally. Based on this theory, similarl y to wealth, knowledge is controlled by powerful groups; the dominant groups retain their status by di stributing knowledge unevenly. In addition, this theory suggests that the production of knowledge that reinforces and legitimates a students’ social position is possible because schools have a degree of autonomy. In the following chapte r, I will examine how these theories are applied in empirical studies conducted in American schools; thus, I will determine whether the role of the schools in the U.S. is to produce and re produce inequalities.


21CHAPTER 3: The role of schools in the United States It is revealed by census and other demogr aphic data, that throughout the last fifty years, the unequal distributi on of wealth in the United St ates has been increasing. As reported by the GINI coefficient, which measur es inequality of dist ribution (0 expressing total equality and 1 total in equality), the index in 2009 wa s 0.47; it can be observed that twelve years before, in 1997, the GINI coeffi cient indicated more equality and the index was 0.40 (U. S. Central Intelligence Agency, 2010). Furthermore, the share of aggregate income received by the bottom quintile was 3.4 percent, while the highest quintile was around fifteen times greater –50.3 percent. The inequality in income has also been expanding over time: In 1967 the income of th e highest quintile was about eleven times greater than the bottom qu intile –$17,820 versus $1,600 (D eNavas-Walt et al., 2010). Given that social disparities in the U.S. have increased over time, it is important to understand the role that schools have ha d in the formation and preservation of this unequal society. While it is evident that since the Second World War, the U.S. educational system has expanded vastly in size and there has been a striking overall equalization access to education, there has been no comparable equalization of incomes (Glennerster, 1980). Therefore, by combini ng the theoretical framework on school inequality presented in the pr evious section, I will analyze th e mechanisms of social class production and reproduction that take place in the American educational system. Those theories argued that schools simultaneously produced and reproduced the dominant social structures of society. The employment of mechanisms that pr oduce and reproduce the social hierarchy is possible because schools are stratified by social class. Therefore, the first part of this


22 chapter will examine how schools in the U.S. are segregated by social class; in addition, I will examine the economic mechanisms used in the structure of schools that serve to reproduce economic inequalities. In the s econd section, I will demonstrate how schools employ cultural mechanism to benefit the dom inant groups and repr oduce the ideology of the dominant culture. The third section will examine how the structure of the U.S. educational system benefits the parents who have the most social capital. The fourth section will present the knowledge creation a nd distribution mechanisms used in schools which serve to produce and reproduce social inequalities. After analyzing all of the mechanisms suggested by the educational ineq uality theories, I will show how the current educational policies further segregate schools and allow for the employment of these mechanisms. 3.1. Educational segregatio n and economic reproduction The socioeconomic status of the student is determinative of his/her educational experience; school placement, possession of cu ltural capital, and classroom experiences are directly correlated to the student’s socioeconomic background. This section will examine the economic factors that contribu te to educational inequality and the reproduction of social class. Prior to analyzing the imp act that the student’s socio economic status (SES) has in the classroom, it is necessary to acknowledge that for vari ous centuries schools in the United States have been characterized for being significantly hom ogeneous in terms of SES: The economic composition of most schools tends to be relatively homogeneous…In older suburbs or cities, children of higher-income families are more likely to attend homogeneous neighborhood schools, selective public schools, or private schools, and to be in higher trac ks, while lower-income and


23 ethnic-minority children are most likely to attend schools together (Persell, 1977, p. 34). This homogeneity, which enables the su ccessful employment of production and reproduction mechanisms, is attributed to resi dential segregation and school policies. 3.1.1. Residential and educational segregation Residential segregation in the U.S. ha s been a prevalent and persisting issue throughout the last century; federal and stat e policies have favored suburban sprawl, concentrated urban poverty, and economic se gregation (Anyon, 2005; Dr eier et al., 2004; Fruchter, 2007; Massey & Denton, 1993; Saga lyn & Frieden 1992). However, American cities have not always been segregated and sprawled; in the 1920s, they were twice as dense as they are now (Dreier et al, 2004, p. 59). The drastic transformation of the urban scene occurred when World War II ended; as soldiers were returning to the United States in search of housing, a new housing market was waiting for them. To satisfy the housing demands of the middleand upper-classes, th e government implemented federal policies which encouraged suburban migration; thes e policies included: tr ansportation, military spending, and federal programs promoting hom eownership. These policies also promoted suburbanization, urban sprawl and economic se gregation in cities (Dreier et al., 2004, pp. 116 & 120; Fruchter, 2007). Ethnic minorities and underprivileged so cioeconomic groups were disadvantaged by these policies, and government policies “f avored concentrating the poor in central cities” (Dreier et al., 2004, p. 104). The re sulting residential segregation caused innumerable problems in the economic, political, and social spheres of the city. Once the middleand upper-class moved out, the city f aced social and economical deterioration,


24 including high rates of crime and unemploymen t, poor health care and public services, and decline in the quality of edu cation (Massey & Denton, 1993, p. 13). The social class homogeneity of American schools is the result of the combination of socioeconomic and racial residential segregation and e ducational policies. The most vital educational policy relating to segregati on is that of assigni ng students by geographic catchment area. Based on this ruling, stude nts are assigned to pub lic schools based on their region of residence (Lau en, 2007). In 2003, about 73 percen t of students in grades 112 attended a geographically assigned public school (Dumas, 2009, p. 92). Under the mandate of this policy, public schools in the Un ited States reflect its social hierarchies: the mechanisms of residential segregati on result in schools that are relatively homogeneous with respect to race, income and occupation (Persell, 1977; Ball, 2003, Anyon, 2005). The American population is awar e of the school segregation caused by residential patters and the po licy of assigning schools by place of residence; therefore, better positioned families try to avoid certain institutions by strategically choosing their place of residence based on the assigned schools for that region (Andre-Bechely, 2005; Gamoran, 2001; Lauen, 2007): “National estimates suggest that about one-quarter of parents report moving to their current neighborhood for the school” (Lauen, 2007, p. 483). 3.1.2. Segregated school system and educational inequalities One crucial consequence of having sc hools segregated economically is that funding policies tend to favor the schools lo cated in the wealthier regions. Schools located in the poor urban centers are inadequa tely funded because school tax tends to be based on property tax, hence low-income neighborhoods are not able to support the


25 schools within their borders (Fruchter, 2007). Cordon & Roscigno (2003) show that “the wealthiest districts spend as much as th ree times the per-pupil amount of the most economically disadvantaged dist ricts” (p.18). Discrepancies in spending are driven by the fact that schools are dependent on federal, state, and local sources of revenue. Therefore, the policies of school placemen t and education funding have allowed for the middleand upper-class communities to exercise their social and political influence to garner more than their fair share of education do llars (Anyon 1997; Apple 2001; Cordon & Roscigno, 2003; Dumas 2009; Herriott & St. John, 1996): School systems do not distribute their re sources equitably, bu t favor middle-class schools in the assignment of staff, as well as in the building and maintenance of plant and in the allocation of teaching materials and special resources. (Herriott & St. John, p. 1996, p. 10) Although funding is not a determining factor in providing a good-quality education, several financially driven factor s do shape a school’s social and learning environment. Since a student’s academic ach ievement is correlated to class size and quality of teachers, on e of the most important functions of school funding is covering instructional materials and teachers’ salaries As the per-pupil expenditures increase, the teacher-student ratios decrease and teachers’ credentials are higher: “the most highly credentialed teachers are not randomly distributed within a district, but are concentrated in high-SES schools with higher per-pup il expenditures” (Cordon & Roscigno, 2003, p. 22). Funding contributes to th e physical conditions that cons truct the learning and social environment. According to Frankenberg, Or field, and Lee (2002), the socioeconomic composition of schools is strongly linked num erous factors that influence educational opportunity, including: “test sc ores, graduation rates, the ab ility to attract and retain talented and experienced teachers, the range of course offerings, student health, and


26 parental involvement” (p. 18). Michael J. Dumas (2009) shows the economic and political mechanisms contribu ting to educational maldistri bution between districts in Seattle. This study compares a school located in a segregated region of Seattle, in which half of the student population qua lifies for free or reduced lunch,1 to a school located in a wealthier region of the city, in which twenty percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Dumas observes that the w ealthier school has s ubstantially more dictionaries than the poorer school; therefore, his study aims to find out why they have more resources and why this maldistributi on has not been corrected. He finds that Washington state schools are not adequately funded, yet so me schools in the wealthy north region established endorse ments to raise funds; these es tablishments attract students who would go to private school, and family c ooperation enhances the socially segregated schools. Meanwhile, in the south, the middleclass increasingly chooses private schools due to the deteriorating conditions of their public schools; this leaves a high concentration of poor students in those decaying schools. Parents and caregivers of these poor students are the most politically and economically disenfranchised in the cit y, which makes it more challenging to mobilize for political action. It is not th at parent and community organizing does not occur; however, this population ha s minimal access to the kind of social capital needed to make demands for e ducational justice. (Dumas, 2009, p. 85) Dumas finds that even when school districts have made some e ffort to direct more dollars to poor and working-class communities, afflue nt communities have been able to ensure that a range of federal, state, and lo cal policies serves their interest. Another study on educational maldis tribution demonstrates that the socioeconomic, cultural, and political power of certain groups allows for inequalities within the same school district. This study, c onducted by Dennis J. Cordon and Vincent J. 1Qualification for reduced and free lunch is a common indicator of low socioeconomic status.


27 Roscigno (2003), examines how funding vari ed based on the socioeconomic composition of eighty-nine public elementary schools in the Columbus, Ohio school district. Cordon and Roscigno find that, within a give n district, the per-pupi l spending in public elementary schools ranges from $3,045 to $8,165. Instructional pe r-pupil expenditure (the amount spent on actual classroom instruction) ranges from $1,330 to $4,920. The results also show that those schools that sp end more exhibit higher levels of academic achievement. Cordon and Roscigno explain th at the discrepancies in funding arise because schools are dependent on federal, state, and local sources of revenue; the decisions taken at the local level by the local school boards are responsible for the disparities in funding within th e school district. Given that school board members in most locales are elected officials, their decision making is likely to be shaped with a voting constituency in mind: Since poor and minority communities are more likely to be alienated from the policies process and less likely to par ticipate in it, school board decision is arguably shaped more by concerns and issu es that are of relevance to the more affluent, voting public. (Cordon & Roscigno, 2003, p. 21) However, this bias in decision making can occur without the pressure from voters; Cordon and Roscigno argue that parents and parent-teacher organizations from high SES institutions are the most active and resourcef ul when it comes to pressing local school boards for resources. Other empirical research has found that the socioeconomic composition of the student body also determines the amount of be havior control in the schools, with lowerclass schools showing more control (Nolan, 2009). According to Loic Wacquant (2001),


28 marginalized public schools “have deteriorated to the point where they operate in the manner of institutions of confinement whose primary mission is not to educate but to ensure ‘custody and control’—to borrow the motto of many departme nt of corrections” (as quoted in Nolan, 2009, p. 40). Similarly, Ka thleen Nolan (2009) conducts a study at an inner-city high school located at a lowincome neighborhood. At this school, eighty percent of its students qualify for free lunch, and the dropout rate is approximately sixty percent. Given that the school faced high rate s of violence, a disciplinary system which consisted of moving “problematic” students to detention centers was employed. Nolan’s research question is centered on the notion that punish ment is used as a political strategy of power and the fact that there seems to be a strong correlation between concentrated poverty and increased incarcerati on rates; therefore, she ex amines the si gnificance of social class reproduction in the context of high unemployment, the mass incarceration of people of color in the US, and school-based penal management. Nolan finds that during one school year, 239 court summons were i ssued; over half were for “disorderly conduct,” which is ambiguously defined as ac tivities ranging from fights to disruptive behavior (Nolan, 2009). Although it is not possible to see wh ether the school’s ordermaintenance policies in 2007 reproduce those st udents’ social position, Nolan finds that these policies did not se rve to reduce crime. 3.1.3. School as an apparatus of economic reproduction Educational segregation by so cioeconomic status, which results in inequalities in resources and quality of education, is a mech anism to reproduce the social positions of the students. Empirical research on Ameri can schools has found that the disadvantaged groups are segregated in schools that have fewer resources and poorer educational


29 quality, in comparison to middl eand high-class establishm ents. By placing the most disadvantaged students in the most disa dvantaged schools, problems such as lowacademic achievement, school failure, and high dropout rates emerge. Because poverty is associated with poor educational performance, segregation also concentrates educat ional disadvantage. The or ganization of public schools around geographical catchment areas, in othe r words, reinforces and exacerbates the social isolation that segregation creates in ne ighborhoods. By concentrating low-achieving students in certain schools, segregation create d a social context within which poor performance is standa rd and low expectations predominate. (Massey & Denton, 1992, p. 141) Various studies comparing academic achievement by income and economic status reveal that impoverished students do not perform as well in schools as students from better positioned families: “the average scores fo r the schools with less than 50% of their students in poverty exceeded th e US average score, while th e scores for the schools with greater than 50% of their st udents in poverty fell below th e US average score” (Berliner, 2007, p. 495). More specifically, a study on read ing knowledge of fifth grade students by family income shows that the percentage of students living above poverty who can “evaluate nonfiction” is about fifteen times greater than the percentage of students living below poverty –10.6 percent versus 0.7 percent (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). According to Michael Apple (1996), every year a child spends living in poverty increases the likelihood that he/she will be below the us ual school grade level for his/her age; “lowincome children average nine points lower on IQ tests given at age 5, and are 1.3 times more likely to have learning disabilities” ( p. 75). The highly economic segregated schools of Chicago were denominated as “the worst in the nation” by the former Secretary of Education in Regan’s administration –W illiam Bennett (Lauen, 2007). Despite some efforts to reform the Chicago schools, th e majority of schools are considered under-


30 performing by local and federal standards and continue to be on academic probation (Lauen, 2007). While academic achievement is also determined by cultural and social factors, one of the economic reasons that low-inco me students have a lower performance in school is that income matters for cognitive development: Income allows parents to provide their children with safer, more stimulating home environments; to live in comm unities with better schools, parks, and libraries and more challenging peers; to afford tuition and other expenses associated with higher education; to pu rchase or otherwise gain access to higherquality health care; and in many other wa ys to buy the things that promote the health and development of their children. (Anyon, 2005, p. 73) Furthermore, low-academic achievement also results from self-ful filling prophesy caused by placing children in disadvantag ed institutions and labeling them as being problematic. In the past decades, public policy has often denominated low-income children as “at-risk” in reference to their likelihood of experi encing poor academic achievement, drug use, dropping out, etc. The use of the “at-risk” labe l is extremely problematic since it operates as if school failure is a natural consequence of the students’ charac teristics; “in popular use, ‘at risk’ has become a signifier for ra ce and class and a badge of deviance to be pinned on urban youth” (Lipman, 1998, p. 13). In addition, the argument that American society is stratified by cognitive ability is also problematic. For instance, in Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve (1996), the authors suggest th at it is better to be born “smart” than rich: “…almost no one with an IQ in the top quarter of the distribution fails to get a high school education, no matter how poor their families” (p. 143). Instead of focusing on the segregating and discriminatory institutional practices and policies that contribute to school failure, th e tendency to blame the victim results in the perpetuation of these issues.


31 School dropout is another recu rring issue, resulting in the further disadvantage of disadvantaged students. According to the 2009 Current Population Survey, the status dropout rate of students belongi ng to the lowest family inco me quartile was about sevenand-one-half times greater than the status dropout rate of the st udents in the highest family income quartile in 2008 –16.4 percent versus 2.2 percent (U. S. Census Bureau, 2009a). Status dropout refers to people in th e 16to 24age group w ho are not enrolled in school and have not completed a high school program. The 2009 Current Population Survey also reveals that the discrepancy between dropout rates for the lowest family income quartile and the highest has been in creasing over time. In 1970, the status dropout rate of students belonging to the lowest family income quartile was about five times greater than the rate of st udents in the highest quartile –28 percent versus 5.2 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009a). Thus, it can be observe d that the status dropout rate has been decreasing at a faster rate for the wealthier group. As stated in The Condition of Education 2010 report, in 2007-2008, approximately 68 percent of twelfth graders in high-poverty schools graduated with a diplom a, compared to 91 percent of twelfth graders in low-poverty (Aud et al., 2010). This discrepancy is at its historical maximum, since in 1999-2000, the average percentage of seniors in high -poverty schools who graduated with a diploma was 86 percent. While the percentage for the high-poverty schools students has declined from 86 to 68 percent, there in no measurable difference between the 1999-2000 graduation rate in lowpoverty schools and the 2007-2008 rate in low-poverty schools (Aud et al., 2010). For some inner-city high schools, dropout rates in 2009 were as high as 80 percent (Nolan, 2009). As of 2005, relatively few low SES urban


32 students went beyond the ninth grade; for instan ce, in fourteen schools in New York City, only 10 to 20 percent of ninth graders gra duated four years later (Berliner, 2007). The segregated American schools system reproduces the inequalities of the nation. Educational inequality and poverty become a cycle in which the neediest are marginalized and receive the worst educa tion; their academic experience is weak, resulting in the stagnation of their socioec onomic position. This cycle has been recorded by the 2009 American Community Survey, which i ndicated that the percentage of people living below the poverty line between 2005 a nd 2009 varied drastically depending on the educational attainment of the householder: while 25% of the people who earned less than a high school diploma live below the poverty lin e, 2.4% of the people with a bachelor’s degree or higher lives below the pover ty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009b). Despite the fact that low-income individua ls desperately need a college degree to find decent employment, only 7 percent obt ain a bachelors degree by age twentysix. So, in relation to the n eeds of low-income students, urban districts fail their students with more egregious consequen ces now than in the early twentieth century. (Anyon, 2005, p. 69) As an economic apparatus, schools reproduce cla ss, status, and racial relations through a system of urban segregati on and through their integrati on into a marketplace of credentials. However, to unders tand the role of schools, we must also understand their relationship to cultural power. 3.2. Cultural reproduction As noted in the previous chapter, many sc holars argue that the use of particular cultural patterns in schooling perpetua tes inequality (Apple, 1979; Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Passeron 1977; Carnoy, 1982; Hogan, 1982; Lareau, 1987). Based on this theory of cultural reproduction, various sc holars have examined how dominant cultural


33 relations in Unites States ar e reflected in schools. For in stance, Basil Bernstein (1977) shows that classroom learning in the U.S. is reflexive and interactive, and that language in the classroom draws unevenly from the so ciolinguistic experien ces of children at home. Along these lines, Pauline Lipman (1998) suggests that most teachers are unprepared to teach children whose racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural background is different from their own. In addition, advantag es for educational success also result from the possession of cultural resources at home; students whose families own more reading material, attend educational events or vis it libraries, and have similar enrichment opportunities perform better on cogni tive tests, receive higher gr ades, and stay in school longer than do students whose families lack these resources (Gamoran, 2001). It is suggested that these differences in family background and cultural capital account for about one-third of the test score gap in American schools (Hedges & Nowell 1999; Jencks & Phillips 1998). Empirical research on the re lation of exposure to high status cultural resources and school success began to appear in the United States during the 1980’s. Paul DiMaggio was one of the first scholars to examine the relation of cultural capital and academic achievement in American e ducation (1982; DiMaggio & Mohr 1985). DiMaggio and Morh (1985) claimed that Bour dieu had argued that participation in a prestigious status culture is most strongly rewarded in the school, “yet not a single study on the U.S. educational attainment pro cess has ever attempted…to distinguish operationally cultural factors from measures of class position” (p. 1233). Therefore, these authors examined students’ attitudes toward cultural activities and knowledge about high culture, as well as their educational achievem ent over a period of eleven years. The


34 results of this study reveal that cultural capital has a strong si gnificant effect on both educational attainment and college at tendance (DiMaggio & Morh, 1985, p. 1241). DiMaggio’s and Morh’s data indicates that the variation of levels of cultural capital in high school students affects th e likelihood of obtaining a high er education degree; those possessing more cultural capital are more likely to obtain it. According to Teachman (1987), most studies about the relation of social class and schooling have focused on socioeconomic indica tors, such as income. In contrast, his study suggests that parents use objectified a nd embodied cultural cap itals to create a home environment conducive to higher attainme nt in education. Using the data from the National Longitudinal Study of the high school cl ass of 1972 enrolled in public, private, and church-affiliated institutions in the U.S., Teachman analyzed the impact that material and nonmaterial cultural resources have on e ducational achievement. The results support the notion that a home atmosphere that fosters academic skills, motivation, and orientation, through the use of embodied a nd objectified cultural artifacts, plays a significant role in determining educational attainment for both males and females; the people with the most resources and nouris hing home environments reach the highest levels of schooling. While these studies demonstrate a co rrelation between socioeconomic status, cultural forms, and educational achievement, they do not present the specific cultural factors that benefit those be longing to the dominant social groups in school. Annette Lareau’s ethnography, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life (2003), examines the critical aspects of family life that give certain children an advantage when they move from the home into the world of social institutions. This ethnography is based


35 on a study which consisted of home and clas sroom observations of twelve children and their families; the twelve children observed vari ed in gender, race, and social class. The fundamental difference found among the households based on social class, is that the middle-class parents were engaged in concer ned cultivation and lower-class parents were engaged in accomplishment of natural growth. Concerned cult ivation means the fostering of the child’s growth through involvement in terms of both financial aspects and time. Parents in middle-class families have the time, money, and educational background to stimulate their children’s development and to cultivate their cognitive and social skills. On the other hand, the working-class and poor parents viewed children’s development as unfolding spontaneously, “as long as they were provided with comfort, food, shelter, and other basic support” (Lareau, 2003, p. 238). Th e different childrearing practices among families of different social classes were reflected in terms of enrollment of organized activities, language use, social connections, and interventions in social institutions. For instance, children from middle-class households were enrolled in several extracurricular activities; their pa rents promoted reasoning through conversation and extended negotiation between themselves and their chil d. In contrast, in the lower-class household, the parents drew strong boundaries between adults and children; adults gave directions to children and gave them freedom to spend their free time playing. Lareau’s study shows that those children whose cultural practices were associated with concerned cultivation possessed an adva ntage in school. This advantage resulted from schools’ valuing the cultural capital of the dominant groups, therefore, benefiting those who possessed it. For inst ance, the study’s findings rev eal that schools rewarded those who possessed the values of individualis m; however, mostly middle-class children


36 developed and valued an individualized sens e of self, which resulted from the way they were raised and their access to coveted activities (Lareau, 2003). Similarly to Teachman’s study (1987), Lareau’s study (2003) also f ound that educational resources at home determined academic success: “Middle class pare nts’ superior levels of education gave them [the students] larger vocabularie s and more knowledge” (Lareau, 2003, p. 237). Furthermore, research on the relation of cultural capital and education reveals that the cultural capital stored in schools not only determines the expectations that educators had for their students, but also for parents. According to this idea, teachers assumed and expected all parents to participate in the same ways and degrees in their children’s education. However, it is suggested that th e involvement of parent s in their children’s education differs by their social class and leve l of cultural capital. The level of parental monitoring and collaboration –such as th e number of school events they attend, assistance with school work, and enrollment in other educational activities– is a determinant of educational outcomes (Gamor an, 2001). Studies centered on American schools reveal that those belonging to well-positioned socioeconomic groups, who possess the dominant cultural capital, have higher educati onal attainment (Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Lareau, 1987; Teachman et al., 1996). Annette Lareau (1987) explai ns why different level of cultural capital leads to different parental invol vement and demonstrates how this involvement is linked to school success. This study examined two first-grad e classrooms located in two communities –an upper middle-class one and a working-class one; Lareau interviewed the parents, teachers, and principals of both schools. The study shows that social class and cultural capital have a powerful influence on parent al involvement patterns; the variation on


37 involvement is based on factors such as pa rents' educational attainment, occupational status, and ways in which they promoted e ducational success. Since the parents in both communities possessed different types of cultu ral capital, their views on how to promote educational success differed. While both groups wanted their children to be successful in school, the working-class parents believed th at academic success is achieved by turning over the responsibility for educ ation to the teacher; in cont rast, the middle-class parents saw education as a shared enterprise and scrutinized, monitored, and supplemented the school experience of their children (Lareau, 1987 ). In addition, the higher cultural capital of upper-middle class parents allowed them to understand and handle the diagnostic and instructional language used by teachers. Als o, material resources played a role in facilitating family-school relationships: while the working-class parents could not attend school events because of their jobs or lack of material resources, upper middle-class parents rarely faced their problem. As a result of all these difference s, the cultural capital of the upper middle-class group allowed them to take a more active role in schooling compared to the lower status group; this included: “promoting verbal development, reading to children, taking children to the li brary, attending school events, enrolling children in summer school, and making compla ints to the principal” (Lareau, 2000, p. 3). Lareau’s empirical work also shows that since schools embody the cultural capital of the dominant groups, the students from those groups, whose parents were more involved, were the most benefited. For instance, “the teachers’ methods of presenting, teaching, and assessing subject matter were based on a structure that presumed parents would help children at home” (Lareau, 1987, p. 75) Therefore, the teachers’ expectations were based on the notion that all students a nd their parents’ possesse d the same level of


38 cultural capital. In addition, teachers believed that parental participation was fundamental and that “their requests of pa rents are reasonable and that all parents, regardless of social position, can help their children in first a nd second grade” (Lareau 1987, p. 76). Again, the expectations that the teachers held reflect the idea that all pare nts possessed the same cultural capital and the same values. Aside from being more distant from the schools, when working-class and poor parents did try to intervene in their children’s educational experiences, they often felt ineffectual and ba ffled. As a result, “even as early as second grade, the children’s positions in the educational system seemed destined to re-create –rather than challenge– the social positi on of their own parent s” (Lareau, 1987, p. 82). Cultural capital, while playing an important role in the way schooling perpetuates inequalities, does not work alone ; social capital is also an important intervening factor contributing to the schools reproductive role. 3.3. Social capital and education Social capital, which is determined by economic capital and socioeconomic status, is another factor that shapes edu cational success and outcomes. Pierre Bourdieu (1986) defined social capital as: the aggregate of the actual or potential re sources which are linke d to possession of a durable network of more or less in stitutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognitions —or in other words, to membership in a groups— which provides each of its members with the backing of collectively-owned capital, a “credential” which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word. (pp. 248-249) Research on this topic suggests that social capital determines how much information parents have about schools’ qualities, how to apply to these institutions, and how to obtain financial aid and other resources: “Parents who know other parents, especially


39 parents who are knowledgeable about maneuvering through the academic landscape, can affect student outcomes” (Kao, 2004, p. 173). According to Stephen J. Ball, Richard Bowe, and Sharon Gewirtz (1994), the social cap ital of middle-class parents allows them to decode and manipulate the systems of sc hool choice and recruitm ent, because they possess the knowledge, skills, and contacts to do so. Furthermor e, parents’ social capital plays a role in producing high achievement of children, becau se it shapes the relationships between institutions, teachers and families (Noguera 2004; Perez, 2009). Empirical works on schools in the United St ates reveal the significance that social capital has on educational opportunities and achievement (Brantlinger, 2003; Kao, 2004; Lareau, 2000; Lipman, 1997; Noguera, 2004). For instance, Annette Lareau (2000) examined how social networks linked to so cial class position pr ovide parents with different amounts of general information about schooling. Her comparative study on a working-class and a upper middle-class school reveals that “upper-m iddle-class parents had teachers, resource specialists, principals counselors, and specia l education teachers” within their social circle (Lareau, 2000, p. 173). The findi ngs also show that uppermiddle-class mothers also had close ties with other mothers whose children attended the school; “as a result, upper-middle class parent s had much more information about the educational process in genera l and about the specifics of their children’s school-site experience than did working-class parent s” (Lareau, 2000, p. 9). In addition, Lareau found that social capital influences the resour ces that parents have available to access and challenge social institutions. Her data shows that a factor determining upper-middle-class children’s acceptance to higher education inst itutions was that they know how to comply with the standards of application; “social class influences this process, in part because of


40 the different levels of information and ec onomic resources at the family’s disposal” (Lareau, 2000, p. 183). Empirical research also s hows that parents’ social capital also influences educational policies in the United States (Brantlinger 2003; Lipman, 1997). Ellen Brantlinger’s (2003) study found that within a di strict, middle-class parents’ social capital allows them to mobilize to ensure that school choice programs exclude lower-income families of color. The significance that the dominant groups’ social capital has on education is also exemplified by Pauline Lipman (1997) in a study examining teacher participation in restructuring at a junior hi gh school composed of thirty-six percent of affluent White students and sixty-four perc ent of low-income and working-class AfricanAmerican students. Lipman’s study took pl ace when this urban school was in the beginning stages of restructuring; the need to restructure arose because the school had disparities in academic achievement based on social class and race, which was perpetuated by the tendency for affluent Wh ite students to be concentrated in honorstrack classes and poor African-American stude nts in regular-track classes (Lipman, 1997, p. 8). Therefore, the objective of Lipm an’s study was to observe how teachers’ collaboration and decisions during the restru cturing was influenced by the interplay of relations of power in the school, it s district, and its city. The results show that upper middle-class families’ influence and power allowed them to control and structure the school’s practices in subtle and overt ways. For instance, “they called the superintendent directly at home and at the office, paid visits to district officials to press thei r positions, and had two repr esentatives on the elected school board” (Lipman, 1997, p. 20). By raising a significant amount of money for the


41 school, and through their support of the principal, they gave him power in his own battles with the superintendent and the Board of E ducation; in return, th e principal “ensured a place for their children in honors classes or with particular teachers, transferred teachers they disliked, and maintained policies they insisted on” (Lipman, 1997, p. 22). Furthermore, the power of the upper middl e-class White parents at the district level was illustrated when they opposed a new, experimental, untracked Study and Research Methods class. The study finds that the control that the families with the most social capital had on the school shaped the teachers’ decisions, thus reinforcing the privilege of the wealthier students. For in stance, the power of the upper middle-class group influenced the teachers’ “reluctance to tamper with academic tracking and undergirded their concern with controlling African-American children's behavior” (Lipman, 1997, p. 29). Thus, a family’s social cap ital is a factor of educational outcomes because it determines the students’ access to educational institutions and the power they have in them. Schools in the United States ar e designed to benefit those with the most social capital, thereby reproduci ng social class inequalities, “w hile at the same time begin an important agency for the production of th e technical/administra tive knowledge needed for capital accumulation (Apple, 1982, p. 7). 3.4. The production of inequalities: Unequal distribution of knowledge As noted earlier, post-modern theories on educational inequality suggest that schools need to be seen in a more complex ma nner than simple soci al class and cultural reproduction (Apple, 1979, 1982, 2003). View ing schools as only reproducing inequalities implies that stude nts passively internalize what is taught; they take in the dominant social messages without modifying them by their class cultures and class.


42 Therefore, post-modern theories suggest another approach, seeing schools as not only institutions that reproduce cultural capital, but as pr oducing knowledge and cultural capital that contribute to maintaini ng and legitimating an unequal society. The production and reproduction of so cial positions through the unequal distribution of knowledge assumes that the dominant groups control knowledge. To understand how knowledge gets legitimized and into schools, it is important to examine how the normative conceptions of legitimate culture and values entered historically into the schools’ curriculums in the United States. This analysis permits a keener understanding of the way intern al political forces, and larg er social structures of inequality, prevent schools from play ing the role of great equalizers. In 1850’s, when public schools in New York City became solidified, schools were seen as a tool to preserve the community li fe, values, and norms of the “natives”; this way the powerful groups protected their advantages against the minorities and immigrants. “The schools reflected the attitude of the general native public, who wished to Americanize the habits, not the status, of the immigrant” (Carl Kastle as quoted in Apple, 1979, p. 64). As the population in American cities increased, so did the problems; thus, the school began to be perceived as th e “solution” to deal with the rising population. Schools were structured to acculturate the vast increasing number of “minority children” by becoming standardized in terms of procedures and curriculum. Between 1870-1920, the school was pronounced as the fundamental institution that would solve the problems of the c ity, the impoverishment and moral decay of the masses, and, increasingly, would adjust individuals to their respective places in an industrial economy. (Apple, 1979, p. 64) The contemporary curriculum field is infl uenced by the field’s founders– Franklin Bobbitt, W.W. Charters, Edward L. Thorndike, Ross L. Finney, Charles C. Peters, and


43 David Snedden (Apple, 1979). These men defined that curriculum construction had to be shaped by community power and control; thei r main concern was to overcome the threat to the “unitary” U.S. culture and commun ity posed by immigrants and other diverse groups. Thus, the purpose of the curriculum was to acculturate the immigrant into middle-class values, beliefs, and standards of behavior (Apple, 1979). Additionally, the early construction of the curriculum was concerned with serving the needs of industrialization and division of labor. Also, it promoted the idea that the curriculum needed to be differentiated to prepare individuals of differing intelligences and ability for a variety of different but specific adult li fe functions (Apple, 1979). “The mass of the population was to be taught to accept these beliefs and st ands whether or not they understood them or agreed with them” (Appl e, 1979, p. 72). Therefore, we can see that the knowledge getting into school s since their formation was determined and served the interest of the dominant groups. Contemporary empirical works on U.S. school s validate the idea that the official curriculum and its materials, the hidden cu rriculum, the social organization of the classroom, and the authority relationships between teachers and students contribute to social production and repr oduction (Anyon, 1981; Apple, 1979; Erickson & Mohatt, 1982; Gearing & Epstein, 1982; Gaskell, 1985; Taylor, 1984; Va lli, 1985; Wilcox, 1982). Before evaluating the findings of such studies in detail, it is necessary to examine how the schools in the United States have th e autonomy that allows them to create and distribute knowledge. Brian Rowan (1990) finds that the local politic al control of the curriculum in the American educational system allows for the infiltration of dominant


44 influences. Given the influence that the local level has on structuring schools, there is no standard rule on what teachers should teach and there is a greater diversity in the textbooks that are available for teachers to use and in the t ypes of training available for teachers (Rowan, 1990). Based on a nationally representative sample of high school teachers, Rowan (1990) finds th at seventy-six percent of te achers in the U.S. had to report and be observed on what they taught one time during the school year. Another study on five U.S. states expl ains that American schools are responsive to local influences because they rely on local funding and community support; this “dependency” leads to the variability in the content of the implemented curriculum between schools. The results of this study revealed that seventy percent of the school districts had their own offici al curriculum. Therefore, “t eachers in the decentralized American educational system have consider able autonomy and discretion in how they handle classroom instruction and learning” (Stevenson & Baker, 1991). This autonomy results in teachers who often modify the offi cial curriculum according to their or their students’ needs (Cohen et al., 1990). The adaptation of the cu rriculum and expectations to the students’ “needs” often results in th e creation of a knowledge gap, in which the students move to a higher level without having acquired the nece ssary knowledge to succeed—which results in an achievement gap. The schools’ relative autonomy contributes to educational ine quality because their autonomy allows them to construct a curri culum that is frequently shaped by the students’ social class. For instance, numer ous studies reveal that the tracking system employed in the majority of American schools helps maintain and perpetuate social class inequalities (Alexander & Mc Dill, 1976; Alexander et al., 1978; Breton, 1970; Eder,


45 1981; Jones et al., 1987; Oakes, 1982; Oakes, 2007; Persell, 1977; Rosenbaum, 1975; Schafer & Olexa, 1971). This system consists of sorting students into different curricular programs based on the idea of me ritocracy and ability: “Many believe that teaching and learning are facilitated if students of similar perf ormance potential are grouped together so that teachers can focus on thei r particular needs” (Jones et al., 1987, p. 115). Yet, studies show that performance in not th e only factor that determines a student’s placement into track location. The tracking sy stem allows for inter-school and intraschool social class inequalities. For instan ce, a study done by James D. Jones, Joan Z. Spade, and Beth E. Vanfossen (1987) shows that there is a str ong correlation between socio-economic origin and track location: “a very good student from a lower-SES background has only a 52/48 chance of ending up in an academic track” (Jones et al., 1987, p. 115). Therefore, the tracking system results in social class in equalities within the same institution: the students of higher soci oeconomic status are grouped in the advanced tracks and they are taught diffe rent knowledge and at diffe rent pace than students of lower socioeconomic status within the same school. In addition, the relative autonomy that each school has to develop its own curricula and a tracking system allows for inter-school social inequalities. For instance, a study by Joan Z. Spade, Lynn Columba, and Beth E. Vanfossen (1997) shows that the courses offered at each schools varied by the social class of the students. The study examined the levels of mathematics and scie nce courses offered at different schools, as well as the processes of how a student was pla ced into these courses. Using a series of regression analyses, the researchers selected three pairs of schools fr om low, middle, and high class districts. In each pair, there was a school rated “excellent” and another


46 “average”; this categorization was based on the students’ performance on statewide examinations in math and science. The resu lts of this study show that the number of advanced mathematics and science courses offered in each institution increased in accordance with its socioeconomic status. The process of placing students in advanced courses also differed among the socioeconomic status of the school and its “excellence.” The authors found that school personnel in wo rking-class communities were less active in the selection process of courses, and more emphasis was placed on parents’ and students’ choices in course-placement decisions. In contrast, school personne l in middle and upperclass schools were “more central in the proce ss, both in the use of objective measures and in how actively they were involved” (Spade et al., 1997, p.273). The variation of course offering based on the socioeconomic status of the school is another way in which schools control knowledge and distribut e it unevenly. As students get grouped together in classes based on socioeconomic status, they receive the knowledge necessary to maintain their position and legitimize it. Having established how schools in the U.S. are partially autonomous institutions and how they vary in curricula, we can examine how knowledge that legitimizes and reproduces social inequalities are produced in classrooms. In a study on school curricula in the U.S., Jean Anyon (1981) shows how the autonomy of schools and their hidden curriculum allows students in different schools to receive different educational experiences based on their socioeconomic stat us. The author menti ons Apple’s argument that the curriculum is taught accordingly to th e social level of the students; however, she argues that there has been little attempt to investigate this idea empirically. Anyon’s study observed five elementary schools over th e course of a school year; the five schools


47 were chosen based on the criterion of the soci al characteristics of the students attending and their parents, including social-class designation, income, and occupation. Three schools were located in urban areas and two in the suburbs. Based on these factors, the author labeled two schools “working-class schools,” one “middle-class school,” one “affluent-professional school,” and one “executive elite school.” The working-class schools were characterized by a mechanical procedure, where the significance of the material was not explained and critic al thinking was not encouraged. The textbook was not always use d, and work was evaluated as “correct” if the students followed the assigned directio ns. The students in these schools did not experience “hands-on learning,” meaning that they just watched teachers demonstrate or do science experiments “as a class.” Social studies classes taught students “facts,” such as the name of the states and their abbrevia tions. The author noticed that the teachers in these classrooms attempted to control cla ss time by making decisions without explaining them. In the middle-class school, the teaching ta ctics were based on getting the “right” answer and getting a “good grade” for it. In comparison to the teachers at the workingclass schools, the teachers in this school were portrayed as more thorough; they explained the material while teaching it. The author as ked the language arts teacher in the middleclass school why students were just learning simple grammar; the teacher responded that this was what the students need ed for everyday life, to know how to write business letters and thank-you notes. Most lessons were ba sed on the textbook material, and a critical perspective was not provided because it might have been “dangerous.” The teachers in this school based their decisions for the cl assroom on external ru les and regulations.


48 In the affluent-professio nal school, Anyon found that work is a creative activity carried out independently. Cl ass-work involved individual thought, expansion of ideas, and choice of method. The education in this school focused on ha nds-on experience, and it is used with the reasoning that it enables th e students to “make sense” of what they are doing. Teachers were not observed as being co ntrolling of the classroom; rather, they negotiate with the students. The aim of th e executive elite school was to develop the students’ analytical intell ectual powers: “Children are continually asked to reason through a problem, to produce intellectual produ cts that are both logically sound and of top academic quality” (Anyon, 1981, p.15). Cla ssroom discussions were a common teaching method in this school. Teachers at tempted to control the classroom, but emphasis was also put on the “responsibilitie s” that the child had as a student. Based on these observations, Anyon concl uded that fifth-grad ers of different economic backgrounds were already being prepar ed to occupy particular positions of the social hierarchy as an affect of the “hi dden curriculum” and the unequal distribution of knowledge. The author suggests that differi ng curricular, pedagogi cal, and evaluating practices emphasized different cognitive and behavioral skills in each social setting. Anyon’s analysis focused on the reproductive and non-reproductive as pects of knowledge found in each social-class setting: “Reproductive” refers to aspects of school knowledge that contri bute directly to the legitimation and perpetuation of id eologies, practices, and privileges constitutive of present economic a nd political structures. “Nonproductive” knowledge is that which facilitates fundame ntal transformation of ideologies and practices on the basis of which objects, services, and ideas (and other cultural products) are produced, owned, distri buted, and publicly evaluated. (Anyon, 1981, p. 32)


49 Anyon suggests that only in the working cla ss were there two repr oductive aspects of school knowledge. First, students in these sc hools were not taught their own history—the history of American working class and its situation. Also, at this institution, the curriculum and classroom instruction empha sized the inculcation of mechanical behaviors: “these working-class children we re not offered what for them would be cultural capital—knowledge and skill at manipul ating ideas and symbols in their interest” (Anyon, 1981, p. 33). Therefore, in comparison to the students at th e other schools, the working-class school students were not able to accumulate the same lived and commodified cultural experiences. Furtherm ore, the emphasis on the production of mechanical knowledge at the working-class scho ol serves to legitimize and reinforce the students’ position in th e social hierarchy. 3.5. The market and educ ation: Today’s schools Assigning public school placement based on the region in which students live automatically resulted in segregated school s due to the housing patterns that emerged with the increasing indus trialization of urban centers during the 1950’s. Urban schooling is a success or a failure depending on th e perspective we take in its examination. As an instrument and an agency of cultural st ability, the school is a historical success. As a medium for the amalgamation of diverse cultures and acculturation, the school in the city has su cceeded. As a funnel for fitting persons into the industrial segment of society (and keeping some out), it has done its job. As a reenactment of the social order of privilege and underprivileged, it has succeeded. (Rosenfeld, 1975, p. 304) Various scholars have documented how capita l and the interest of the dominant groups shaped the trajectory of urban e ducation policy (Anyon, 1997, 2005; Apple 2001, 2010; Berlier, 2007; Lauen 2007; Lipman, 2002, 2003). The problem of educational segregation caused by residential segregation has been pr esent for almost a century, yet educational


50 reforms have failed to bring substantial improvements. In the last decades, the problems of segregated and low-achieving urban schools have been addresses by applying market mechanisms to the educational system. The “marketization” of education does not refer only to its privatization, but also to education as a “consumer good.” Privatization refers to a reduction of state subsidies and more deregulation, changes of services from the pub lic to the private sectors, and decline in state provision. Although the privatization of the American educational system has increased in the last thirty years, when we focus on the issue of public funding, education has not yet been privatized. “Marketization” is a more accurate description of the new policies’ approaches; it refe rs to the development of “ quasi-markets” in state funded services. The quasi-markets in education involve a combina tion of increasing parental choice and school autonomy. Such a mech anism advocates “viewing citizens as consumers, treating government as a busine ss within the public sector, and increasing efficiency within that sector by having pub lic good and services delivered by competitive agencies” (Smith, 2003, p. 5). These “marketiza tion” initiatives are characterized by the neoliberal logic that the educational system will be more efficient if it has the autonomy to be structured by the free-market ideals and economic rationalit y; also, neoliberal ideology suggest that self-int erest can serve colle ctive interest (Apple, 2001; Smith, 2003). School choice advocates seek to repl ace the neighborhood-based school with a wide variety of schools tailored to fit th e needs and interests of various student groups. Advocates argue that school choi ce can help parents both find a school that better fits their child’s educationa l needs and potentially leverage school reform by promoting competition among schools for students. (Lauen, 2007, p. 463)


51 The neoliberal ideology has had enormous implications for urban education in the United States (Andre-Bechely, 2005; Belfie ld & Levin, 2002; Gabbard, 2003; Landers, 2003; Lauen, 2007; McClafferty, Torres, & Mitc hell, 2000). The market-driven policies have supported the restructuring of education to the needs of the workforce, based on the notion that competition among producers and choice for consumers can increase the quality of schools, transform low-performi ng school districts, a nd reduce inequality between poor and non-poor districts (Lauen, 2007). Educational reforms have addressed the pr oblems with urban education in various ways, making today’s school c hoice more complex than it ever was (Andre-Bechely, 2005; Barkan, 2011; Bracey, 2005; Lauen, 2007; Kafer 2005; Mcclafferty, Torres, & Mitchell, 2000). Some of the policies in clude expanding school choice through vouchers, charter, and magnet schools, as well as implementing funding mechanisms based on standardized testing results. The policies of increasing academic standards by employing standardized testing and school choice were first proposed in the report “A Nation at Risk,” commissioned by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. These recommendations became federal mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, which establishes a budgeting mechanism based on asse ssments of quality of education through standardized tests in every state, promotes school choice and competition, and hands over some educational functions to non-profit or ganizations and for-profit corporations (Anyon, 2005; Bracey, 2005). The implementa tions of these policies reflect a simultaneous centralization and decentralization of the educ ational system: the use of standardized testing for funding makes it more centralized, while th e expansion of school


52 choice and the agencies in charge of its administration makes it more decentralized (McClafferty, Torres, and Mitchell, 2000). Upon introducing his educa tional agenda on 2001, President George W. Bush said that “American children must not be left in persistently dangerous or failing schools. When schools do not teach and will not change parents and students must have other meaningful options” (as quoted in Lauen, 2007, p. 462). Based on this idea, the NCLB act requires that students in schools that have failed to ma ke adequate yearly progress (AYP) be given the possibility of transf erring to a school that has done so. Schools labeled and sanctioned as not meeting the AYP are given one year to make changes in practice and improve student achievement; if a school fails to meet AYP for a second consecutive year, it is require d to offer students the opportuni ty to transfer to another school, within the same district, that is ma king AYP. If the school continues to miss AYP for a third consecutive year, it is required to offer free tu toring and other supplemental educational services. A fourth year of faili ng to meet AYP involves “corrective action” at the school, which can include introducing a new curriculum or replacing the staff. The failure to restructure the entire school and missing AYP for five or six consecutive years leads to closing the school or turning it into a charter or private school (Dillon & Rotherham, 2007). Some of the alternatives offered to in crease school choice included the creation of magnet schools, charter schools, and vouche rs programs –although the latter are rare. Magnet schools programs were developed with the aim of being integration programs; they encouraged racial integration by cr eating enriching learning environments in minority and low-income schools to attract bett er socially positioned students to enroll.


53 “Magnet school programs grew and increased parental choice of schools beyond that of their neighborhood school or assigned de segregated school ch oice options” (AndreBechely, 2005, p. 36). Although these programs in crease the options available for most students, they have to meet ce rtain criteria in order to be admitted: the magent programs have an application process and a lotter y; for gifted magnets, students need to demonstrate high ability or achievement; the se ats available are limited and thousands of applicants are rejected yearly (Lauen, 2007). As of 2005, there were 1,736 magnet schools in 28 states (Kafer 2005). Charter schools are structur ed as public schools, yet they are operated as private institutions. These schools are run by independent private gr oups and are granted a fixed term performance contract by public authorit ies; in exchange, charter schools receive public funding. Although they ar e meant to increase schoolin g choice, they have very limited space, require an applic ation, and do not provi de transportation fo r their students. Given these conditions, charter schools “are usually subject to desegregation laws and student testing programs, but we have a great deal more autonomy over hiring, procurements, and curriculum decisions” (Lauen, 2007, p. 465). As of 2005, there were 3,400 charter schools in the United States (Kafer, 2005). The neoliberal educational policies al so promoted a voucher system which consists of providing educational funding direct ly to parents, in the form of vouchers, rather than to the institutions themselves. The justification for implementing this system is that the voucher will be equally funded to all parents and anyone can choose to go to a wealthy public school. However, what this disc ourse overlooks is that “like any producer, schools with better facilities a nd better qualified teachers are li kely to charge a premium”


54 (Smith, 2003, p. 13). This program was not im plemented on a large scale in the United States; as of 2005, six states and the District of Colu mbia had voucher and tuition programs (Kafer, 2005). In addition to expanding school choice, th e “marketization” of the school system included delegating administrative educational functions to for-profit corporations. While percentage-wise the amount of funding for K–12 public schooling coming from private philanthropies is minimal (almost $4 billion out of $500 billion), the private agents’ influence in the structure of the educationa l system is significant (Barkan, 2011). For instance, three funde rs—the Bill and Melinda Gate s Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family F oundation—work in sync to command the field (Barkan, 2011). Due to their financial cont ribution to the educational system and the use of mayoral control, th ese funders can push through their market-based goals, including increments in choice, competi tion, deregulation, and data-based decisionmaking. Therefore, their funds are directed to implementing “charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay fo r teachers whose student s improve their test scores… and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher” (Barkan, 2011, p.2). The market-driven educational policies not only failed to resolve the educational inequality issues, but exacerbated the ex isting inequalities (Andre-Bechely, 2005; Anyon, 2005; Apple, 2010; Ball, 2003; Berlier, 2007; Berlier & Nichols, 2007; Conley, 2003; Cross, 2004; Lauen 2007; Lipman, 2 002, 2003, 2005; Smith, 2003; Stein, 2004). The various school choice programs and the schoo l transfer programs, which initially were targeted at low-income students, did not se rve the needs of this population. For instance,


55 the transfer program implemented by the NCLB act did not make a drastic change in providing students with a better education: “Despite the fact that 3.3 million students were eligible for NCLB transfers in th e 2003-2004 school year, only 31, 500, or 1%, of eligible students actu ally transferred to a school that was making AYP” (United States Government Accountability Office as quoted in Lauen, 2007, p. 462). Furthermore, the NCLB act’s incorp oration of standardized-testing as a determinant of funding demonstrated a nega tive impact in the quality of education. Although there is not much rese arch on the effects of this policy, the few findings show that payment based on examination results worsens educational quality problems (Au, 2007; Barkan, 2011; Lipman, 2003; Landers, 2003; Nichols & Berliner, 2007). Given that the schools are rated a nd funded by their “achievement,” the curriculum is often manipulated to emphasize the tested subjects of math and reading; for instance, science and history teachers in Texas have been fo rced to teach math and reading (Au, 2007). Additionally, a 2010 Vanderbilt Univ ersity study showed that me rit pay for teachers does not produce higher test scores for students and “a National Research Council report con rmed multiple studies that show standardized test scores do not measure student learning adequately” (Barkan, 2011, p. 2). Pa uline Lipman (2002; 2003) proves that testing policies, such as publicly reporting st andardized test scores by school site, further legitimizes program differences by al lowing those schools with high test scores to retain flexibility in inst ruction and requiring schools with low test scores (principally composed of students living in poverty) to institute more regimented methods of instruction. Lipman’s (2002) qua litative case study on four Chicago elementary schools shows that the new policies on standardiz ed testing prompted schools to practice


56 education as test preparation and basic skills, instead on focusing on enhancing the learning experience; such policies “widen educational inequalities by institutionalizing a narrowed curriculum in low-scor ing schools” (Lipman, 2002, p. 392). The detrimental effects of the market-driven policies are exemplified in the case of the city of Philadelphia, in which “the state replaced the manage ment and organization of public institutions like schools, hospita ls, and even prisons with the everencompassing neoliberal model of corporate management” (Landers, 2003, p. 203). The educational system in Philadelphia becam e dominated by the for-profit corporation “Edison School Inc.”--the country’s leadi ng for-profit manager of public schools—after signing a six-year $101 million contract to run 45 of the city’s neediest schools. This transfer of power over education to privat e actors resulted in “the largest scale privatization of a school system in the c ountry,” as well as the implementation of standardized testing as a de terminant for funding. The empha sis given to these policies resulted in the deterioration of educational quality in the public schools, since teachers “became increasingly directed by districts and school administrators to focus on raising test scores rather than teaching fo r understanding” (Landers, 2003, p. 206). Research on school choice programs, such as magnet and charter schools, also show that these benefit the better positioned social groups since the most disadvantaged families seem to be less likely to exerci se school choice (Andre-Bechely, 2005; Cobb & Glass, 1999; Henig, 1995; Lauen, 2007; L ee et al., 1996; McNeil, 2000; Teske & Schneider, 2001). For example, one study found that lower income and minority parents are less aware of magnet programs (Hen ig, 1995). Another study on magnet schools found that these programs’ admissions criteria resulted in the “opportunity for parents to


57 make their enrollments choices based on cultura l capital, social cla ss, and special access to information about schools” (Andre-Bechel y, 2005, p. 36). Furthermore, charter schools also contribute to school segregation due to their lower levels of government oversight. In Arizona, for example, it has been found th at charter schools are more racially homogeneous than public neighbo rhood schools (Cobb & Glass, 1999). “Stanford University’s 2009 study of charter schools—the most comprehensive ever done—concluded that 83 percent of them perform either worse or no better than traditional public schools” (Barkan, 2011, p. 2) The implementation of school choice programs exacerbated the segregation in schools: since magnet and charter programs mostly serve middle-class students, the se gregation in schools was extended because previously integrated schools serving mixed localities became more segregated (Whitty & Power, 2007). One of the reasons why low-income families are not likely to exercise school choice is because the majority does not have the dominant groups’ social and cultural capital. For instance, Lee et al. (1996) found that among low-income parents, those with higher education levels are more likely to ex ercise school choice for their children. Along these lines, another study found a positive corr elation between social class and school choice, indicating that parent s of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to be involved in school choice (T eske & Schneider, 2001). Lo is Andre-Bechely (2005) found that as parents tried to get their children into better schools, they we re treated differently by local and district level administrators; their experiences diffe red by how they were positioned in the social class hierarchy and th eir race. Although the parents in this study were doing their choosing among a relatively small number of district magnet schools


58 and other schools that were perceived to pr omote racial and class integrity, the White middle-class parents were advantaged over the Hispanic and Black low-income parents. Overall, the latest studies on the curre nt educational polic ies show that the marketization of education has further disa dvantaged the already disadvantaged groups. Schools have always been socially and racially segregated to the extent that residential segregation existed; the marke tization of education did not re verse this situation and even exacerbated these problems. The market-dri ven policies promote unequal educational opportunities and experiences by advantaging the families with the higher social, cultural, and economic capital. Ultimately, these neol iberal ideologies applied to current educational policies shift respons ibility for education into the individual, thereby limiting those who do not have the tools to work at an individual level. Conclusion In the second chapter I offered a general presentation of sociol ogical theories of education. In this chapter, I i llustrate the way an analysis of the educational system in the United States substantiates the arguments presented by theories of inequality. The educational system in the United States does not promote equality in education nor in access to skills that lead to upward mobility. The evidence co nsistently shows that such educational system not only reproduces, but actively produces class inequality. This is observed not only in terms of the different res ources available in the schools, but also in terms of the cultural capital that is pr omoted and privilege middle and upper-class children. Furthermore, educationa l inequality can also be observed in the way the social and human capital already prevalent in mi ddle and upper-class families privilege their children in gaining access into the best publ ic schools. As noted, some scholars argue


59 these differences are relate d to the fact that American schools are increasingly decentralized, with differences in the quality of the curriculum, offering disparities in quality of education. One must, therefore, wonder, whether a central ized curriculum, one where all the children in the country are expected to le arn the same levels of knowledge and understanding would offer a more egal itarian outcome. Argentina offers the possibility to explore this question. However, before delving into th e results of my field research, we must gain a keen understanding of the history of Argentina’s educational system.


60CHAPTER 4: Education in Argenti na: History, structure, and inequalities Schools in the United States fulfill a sor ting mechanism in which dominant social relations are reproduced and legitimated. Poli cies, curricular decisi ons, and institutional norms and values benefit those students who possess the most economic capital and the dominant cultural capital, thus recreating cl ass hierarchies. By implementing a hidden curriculum and unequally distributing re sources, culture, and knowledge, schools legitimate an unequal economic and social stru cture. The educational inequality in the United States has been exacerbated by neoliber al policies; this market-driven approach towards education served to maintain and aggr avate social class stratification in schools. Argentina’s political, economic, and social spheres have been highly influenced since the 1980’s by neoliberal policies, cap italist values, and international finance institutions that are based in the U.S. Th ese influences have caused drastic social transformations; for instance, in 1980, Argentina had 4.7% of people living below the poverty line, while the average in La tin America was 29.5%. By 2007, 21% of Argentina’s population lived below the poverty line, while the average in Latin America was maintained at 28.9% (Rivas, Vera, & Bezem, 2010, p. 19).2 Furthermore, the socioeconomic gap in Argentina grew vastly in a period of twenty years: based on the Gini coefficient, which measures inequality of di stribution (0 expressing total equality and 1 total inequality), from 1975 to 2005 Argentina went from .36 to .50 (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 19). The rapid growth of inequality in Argen tina in the last decades had an impact on all social spheres; I will examine what ro le schools in Argentina played during this 2 All literature and legal documents used in this chap ter were translated from Spanish to English by me.


61 period. Furthermore, I will analyze if, similar to the schools in the United States, schools in Argentina contribute to the maintenan ce and reproduction of the present social inequality. To find out the role of the school in relation to the expansion of social inequalities, one must look at the history of Argentina’s educational system and how it has changed as the other spheres of the c ountry evolved. Therefor e, this chapter will provide an overview of the establishment of the educational system in Argentina, as well as the social, political, and economic transformati ons that shaped the school to what it is today. 4.1. Establishment and developm ent of education in Argentina The emancipation process in 1816 was a star ting point in the national experience of Argentina, but the act of breaking w ith the imperial power did not mean the automatic transformation from being a Span ish colony to a nation state (Oszlak, 1997). To achieve and impart the desired "order a nd progress," the Argentinean government had to assemble its resources and create conditi ons that would overcome the “disorganization and backwardness” (Oszlak, 1997, p. 18). Achi eving “order and progress” was only possible if it occurred in such sequence: the State had to crea te order before being able to progress. Therefore, the main issue was how the State could establish order; the solution was institutionalizing it through the school system. In other Latin American countries wh ere the population is substantially homogeneous, such as Chile or Costa Rica, the nation-state consolidated earlier than in other regions (Oszlak, 2007). In the case of Argentina, the population was extremely heterogeneous: by the mid-nineteenth centur y, fifty percent of the population of Buenos Aires was immigrants (Lionetti, 2005). Thus the Argentinean State used schools as the


62 mechanism for homogenizing the population, with the aim to establish order and form a nation-state (Oszlak, 1997). Argentina was the first country in Latin America to establish a massive primary education system (Rivas et al ., 2010). This system inherited two models from the French revolution: to use education as an element of social control a nd to promote it as a right of social freedom. However, the establishment of an educational system represented a struggle between the social act ors that wanted to control it. On one hand, the Catholic Church strived to control the Argentinean school system; on the other hand, the large number of illiterate people in the country imposed on the National Government “the urgency to develop a strong national edu cational policy” (Lio netti, 2005, p. 1226). One of the principal driving forces behi nd the establishment of “a strong national educational policy” was Domingo Faus tino Sarmiento (1811-1888). Sarmiento’s standpoints on schooling were influenced by hi s experiences abroad and the examination of other educational systems; as the Arge ntine ambassador in the United States (18651868), Sarmiento developed many ideas about democracy and the structure of society (Romero, 2009). Through his powerful political positions, such as being the governor of the Argentine province of San Juan a nd the President of Argentina (1868-1874), Sarmiento influenced and shaped the educati on based on his principl e that a nation could not be democratic if it was not educate d. For instance, during his presidency, he implemented several measures which corresponde d with his belief that “every child in the nation has to receive an education” (Sarmi ento, 1896, p. 86): he significantly increased educational funding for the national govern ment, established 800 institutions, and increased the enrollment in schools from thirty thousand studen ts to one hundred


63 thousand (Bertoni, 2001). Sarmiento’s educatio nal ideals became the foundations of the Argentinean school. For example, he viewed e ducation as an instrument to civilize the “barbarians” and form a nation: “by raisi ng its moral character, the school prevents incontinence and bad habits… ther efore, education is a resource that serves the interest of the present and future generations” (Sar miento, 1987, p. 61). After his presidential administration, Sarmiento continued to strugg le for the establishment of a secular and universal educational system. As the Direct or of Schools for the Province of Buenos Aires in 1875 and the Nationa l School Superintendent in 1879, Sarmiento stood strong by the notion that it is the Stat e’s ineludible role to control and manage education (Romero, 2009): “it is the State’s obligati on to assure that all of its members receive an education during their childhood, which is essential fo r men to…cultivate their intelligence and satisfy the needs of a civili zed life” (Sarmiento, 1896, p. 89). Sarmiento’s influence and struggle resu lted in the sanction of the 1420 Law of Common Education in 1884, whic h officially established a national education system; this was the first law mandating compulsory, free, and secular primary education (Rivas et al., 2010). It also constitu ted the national government as the primary administrator of the educational system; in Article 8, it establ ished the secular characteristic of education and the secondary role that religious institutions have in the educational sphere: “Religious education can onl y be taught in public school s by authorized ministers belonging to the different religious faiths, to the children in their communion and only before or after school.”3 The 1420 Law established that one of the objectives of schools was to guarantee the triumph of civilization and achieve national stability. Based on 3 Artculo 8la enseanza religiosa slo podr ser dada en la escuela pblicas por los ministros autorizados de los diferentes cultos, a los nios de su respectiva comunin y antes o despus de las horas de clase.


64 Sarmiento’s principles, the school was presente d as a tool to prevent crime and civilize the “barbarians” (Paviglianiti, 1993). In addi tion, schools were dire cted to educate the “future citizens of a democr acy” and “Argentinize” the society (Tedesco, 1993). Article 1 of the 1420 Law stated that “t he primary schools’ principal objective is to simultaneously form and promote the moral, intellectual, a nd physical development of every children from the age of six to fourteen.”4 Under this ruling, the State used education as a way to form “good citizens” and develop their civil virtue and civil morality; schools imparted values such as “honor, honesty, family oblig ations, respect for th e law and authorities, nationalism” (Lionetti, 2005, p. 1236). The 1420 Law also established a distinction between genders: the mandatory curriculum for girls included home -economic courses, while boys had courses on military training and agriculture (Lionetti, 2005). For several decades, the public primar y schools established by the 1420 Law of 1884 remained as the principal educators of Argentinean youth. By 1940, only 7.2% of the population attended private primary school —only the elite or those who preferred a religious education chose private ed ucation (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 23). A pivotal moment in the history of Arge ntinean education occurred in 1947, when a political movement known as “Peronismo” or the “Justicialist Party” came into power. The Peronismo attempted to build, through nati onalist and populist id eologies, a Welfare State that guaranteed the social rights of its citizens and inte grated the working class into the political arena (Somoza R odrguez, 1997). By employing a state-led developmental approach, under the leadership of Presid ent Juan Domingo Pern, the country faced several reforms in the economic, political, and soci al sectors. 4 Artculo 1La escuela primaria tiene por nico objeto favorecer y dirigir simultneamente el desarrollo moral, intelectual y fsico de todo nio de seis a catorce aos de edad.


65 The changes in the educational sphere begun when Pern’s government published the “Five-Year Plan of Argentina”; this document established that education was a “social right” and declared the national government to be the primary administrator of the educational system (Puiggros, 2003). This proposa l also argued that education has to be directed to form “efficient workers” a nd that schools should meet two essential purposes: “preparation and confi guration” of students: “Prepa ration” meant that schools had to provide their students with the theoretical knowle dge and skills necessary to “subsist” in life; “conf iguration” meant that the schools’ role was also to create “better men” (Puiggros, 2003). This educational plan not only aimed to prepare students, but also to shape their characte r in a way that met the need s of the government (Somoza Rodrguez, 1997). By being the primary administrator of ed ucation, the Peronist party made changes that were highly politicized and inclined to favor its government. Another major point proposed in the Peroni st five-year plan is that education has to be fair and equal; the argument behind this point was that only by providing educational equality “an authentic democracy can be formed”: “Education can be truly democratic when it is a heritage we all share and not only a few” (Puiggros, 2003, p. 56). The approach suggested in the five-year plan was to offer assistan ce to those who lack the resources to reach the educational levels that would form them as professionals and citizens (Somoza Rodrguez, 1997). This way, the so-called Welfare State used its administrative role to indoctrinate the masses. The effects of these policies were reflected socially: when Law 1420 was sanctioned, thre e-quarters of the population was illiterate; by 1960, this number was reduced to 10% of the population (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 13).


66 The concept of education as a social right and the government as its primary administrator remained predominant until the 1970’s, when several crises called into question the efficiency and legitimacy of th e Welfare State (Paviglianiti, 1993, p. 30). The crisis of the Peronist government was li nked to a crisis of governance, a dramatic change in oil prices, the exhaustion of import substitution, and a crisis of global capitalism (Lewis, 2001). Making matters worse, when Pern unexpectedly died in 1974 and his wife Isabel took over, misery stru ck the country in all economic, social, and political aspects. The economy nearly colla psed as industrial pr oduction dropped, prices increased from month to month at rates higher than price escala tions in the previous three years, and the workers threatened to fo rce additional concessions (Lewis, 2001). In addition, the government concealed these probl ems by focusing on fighting the “guerillas and subversives”: In 1975, the government orga nized death squads under the name of the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance and offi cially decreed the annihilation of all subversive elements in the country (Feitlowitz 1998). Jorge Rafael Videla, who at that time was the commander-in-chief of the Arge ntine Army, declared: “As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that th e country will again be secure” (Feitlowitz, 1998, p. 6). These conflicts resulted in the collapse of the government and the rise of a military dictatorship led by General Videla. Given that the regime’s principal mission was “purging from the nation all elements that threaten its stability and future hopes,” all spheres of social life were affected—including education (Lewis, 2001, p.144). The same day that the armed forces took control of power, they declared a “day-off from education,” which was extended to several da ys, affecting higher education the most


67 (Puiggros, 2003). The educational system duri ng the dictatorship was extremely unstable: from 1976 to 1982, the minister of education was replaced five times (Pineau, 2006). The changes in the Argentinean schools were pa rt of the military regime’s “National Reorganization Process.” The modification of the educational system consisted of two parts: one was to restructure the system, and the other was to change the objectives of schools. The change of structure comprise d transferring the admi nistrative role of education to other in stitutions and private agents. Th e government stopped financially supporting schools, imposed a quota policy a nd tuition in public universities, and promoted private education (Olmos, 2008). By 1982, government educational investment reached its historical minimum (Rivas et al ., 2010). “The public finance policies of the dictatorship did not favor th e educational field… they even cancelled funds that were collected from special taxes and destined for vocational education” (Puiggros, 2003, p. 22). The changes made in educational objectiv es and inside school s had a repressive character. The regime’s appr oach included the censorship of books, the public ation of an “anti-subversive” teacher manual, and the implementation of st rict discipline in schools (Pineau, 2006). The military regime created a mechanism in which they had to approve all books and textbooks used at schools; this led to the censorship of millions of books. In 1977, the Ministry of Education published a teacher manual entitled “Subversion in the educational field: Get to know our enemy”; the purpose of this document was to make teachers aware of the enemies of the nation a nd the duty that schools have in the struggle (Pineau, 2006, p. 61). As part of the repressive strategy in schools, t eachers, researchers,


68 and students were often victims of forced di sappearances and tortures carried out by the military5. The combination of the restructuring and repressive strategies “was the ‘beginning of the end’ of the public schools inherited from the previous decades”; furthermore, the reforms implemented during this time laid the foundation for subsequent neoliberal educational projects (Pineau, 2006, p. 25). In comparison to Argentina, the other Latin-American countries that suffered fr om repressive military dictatorship during the 70’s had educational policie s that were more progressive nationalistic, and technical. Education in Argentina was at a standstill for more than eight years; thus, the country did not progress in any other sphere (Puiggros, 2003). After the return of democracy in 1983, the development of the educational path cr eated during the dictat orship can still be observed; this path encouraged a decentralized educational system in which the national government transferred the responsibility fo r educational expenditures to private and secondary actors (Tedesco & Tenti, 2004) As neoliberalism expands further and becomes the basis of all the economic, polit ical, and social policies, education in Argentina transforms to what it is today. 4.2. The neoliberal years The military dictatorship of 1976 culminated in 1983, leaving a weak democracy, a collapsing economy, and a shaken nation. The policies implemented in the political and economic sectors during the years subsequent to the return of democracy—which will be 5 The most common operation in the “Nation Reorganization Process” was to “disappear” people. To be “disappeared” was to be put in a state of uncertainty where one does not exist; there was no record. People were being kidnapped, no charges were laid, no evidence was produced, and no trails were mounted to determine what crimes had been committed or whether they were guilty. It is estimated that during those eight years of dictatorship and state terrorism, 30,000 people were “disappeared” and/or murdered.


69 explained in the following paragraphs— had a high impact on the social sphere and the educational field. Raul Alfonsn was the first democratically-elected president after the dictatorship. Among the many inherited social, economic, and political problems from the military regime, Alfonsn had to face an economic depression resulting from a financial collapse in 1981 and its consequential massive foreign debt. The situation was also exacerbated by international agencies —specifi cally the Internati onal Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank— which pressured governments to a dopt structural adjust ment policies to address these balance-of-payment difficulties and fiscal deficits (Torres and Puiggros, 1995). Pressured by the creditors and their demand for interest payments, Alfonsn unsuccessfully attempted to reform and st abilize the economy by im plementing various neoliberal economic programs (1983 to 1989) (Teichman, 2004). Among these programs, the stabilization plan in 1985 (the Austra l Plan) involved wage and price freezes and reduction of the fiscal deficit. The Austral Pl an, the first involvement of the World Bank's policy in Argentina, was followed by a tr ade liberalization and public sector restructuring plan, which culminated in the announcement of the sale of forty percent of the shares of the state telephone company and the state airline (Teichman, 2004). The last attempt was th e “Springtime Plan” ( Plan Primavera) in late 1988, which promoted privatization and a revised fiscal deficit target; it was also sponsored by the World Bank. The failure of revitalizing the economy, as well as a sharp increase in government expenditure, resulted in two hyperinflati onary episodes in 1989 and 1990 (Teichman, 2004). The intensity of such crises set th e stage for what has been known as “the


70 formation of a new social pact of domination” in Argentina: the neoliberal state (Torres and Puiggros, 1995, p. 7). The neoliberal transfor mation of the state took off at full speed when President Carlos Menem was elected in 1989. As soon as Menem took office, he dismissed his campaign discourse which pr omised a “productive revolution” for the working class and was centered on the social ju stice ideology of the Peronist Party. At the very opposite, he executed a neoliberal model that altered the rela tionship between the state and society by drastically reducing the state sector in the economic and social spheres (Torres & Puiggros, 1995). The policies implemented during the Menem era reflect neoliberal ideals; these advocate free trade and the liberaliza tion of the economy while rejecting “any intervention that disrupts the natural flow of the market”—including the government’s administration (Huerta Moreno, 2005, p. 135). Menem’s economic policies followed the Washington Consensus, which included “Fiscal policy discipline, tax reforms, redirection of public spending, priv atization, trade liberation, dere gulation, and lega l security for property rights” (Huerta Moreno, 2005, p. 135). By 1994, the principal state-owned companies were privatized; th ese included the state-owned telephone, electric, airline, railway, petroleum, steel, and military defe nse companies (Teichman, 2004). In addition, these policies were complemented with an outward-oriented development strategy, characterized by “industrial restructuring” a nd the insertion of th e national economy on foreign markets: by 1991, most tariffs on im ports had been removed (Teichman, 2004). These reforms were principally carried out in the context of negotiations with major lending institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, who offered loans under the conditions of implementing market-l iberalizing and structural adjustment


71 policy reforms (Teichman, 2004) “Probably no other country carried out market reform as rapidly as did Argentina under Menem. It was during this peri od that international policy networks proliferated rapidly” (Cocorda, 2000, p. 56). As it was presented in the introduction of th is chapter, the neoliberal policies that have brought market-driven mechanisms to Argentina had disastrous effects. The indiscriminate opening of the market imposed an unsustainable competition, which led to the bankruptcy of small and medium businesses. These policies also resulted in a process of social polarization, in wh ich the gap between the rich and the poor widened deeply (Rivas et al., 2010). The groups affected th e most by the reform faced impoverishment, unemployment, job insecurity, deterioration of living condi tions, and increasing social marginalization. In the following section, I wi ll explore how the educational neoliberal policies that began during the 1976 military regime rapidly expanded during Menem’s government in the 1990’s. 4.2.1. Neoliberal education According to the neoliberal perspective, some of the flaws of the state when administering the educational system were th at it was too centralized, there was too much bureaucracy, and thus, there was an enorm ous gap between the people who make the decisions and their beneficiaries. It also argues that, given these faults, the central educational authorities had li ttle and /or distorted informa tion about what was happening both locally and in their own schools. Ther efore, neoliberal educational policies presented themselves as the “solution” to the educational system’s flaws and problems: decentralizing and applying the theory of the market to the educational system was the only way of making it efficient (Dubet, 2004).


72 Under these neoliberal ideals, the educational system begun to face a decentralization reform that started during Vi dela’s military regime and continued when democracy was restored: between 1978 a nd 1991, out of twenty-four thousand public schools in Argentina, six thousand establishm ents were transferred from national to provincial administration (A guerre, 2002, p. 503). However, a major educational reform, based on the market-driven neoliberal principles, took place during Menem’s administration. This process encompassed the tran sformation of the role of the state in the educational sphere, redefining the public sector, and bringi ng new actors into the system. These policies transferred the responsibilities of the system to other actors, while also centralizing control for the government (Fel dfeber, 2000). The neoliberal educational policies applied in Argentina were “r ecommended” by international finance organizations-the World Bank, IMF, and Inter-American Development Bank; their loans were made conditional on implementi ng neoliberal reforms. Such reforms fundamentally altered the relationship be tween the state and society, by emphasizing privatization, decentralizati on, and the drastic reduction of state spending on education (Feldfeber, 1997). For instance, according to a World Bank report in 1996, in order to ensure equal opportunities, the State had to fulfill six specific roles when managing education: prioritize education, focus on resu lts, public investment focused on primary education, health equity, household particip ation, and autonomous institutions. It recommended that it was more efficient for schools to be autonomous and administer their own funding. In addition, this World Ba nk report justified its intervention in the educational sector by stating that it “contributes to re duce poverty and increase the productivity of the poor, reduce birth rates, improve health conditions, and prepare


73 people with the necessary aptitudes to part icipate in the economy and society” (1996, p. 3). The neoliberal years were characterized by an increment in the number of foreign loans used in the educational sector. On 1994, the Inter-American Development Bank approved the Program of Reforms and Interven tions in the Educational Sector, allocating a 600 million dollar loan. The project focuse d on increasing the coverage and improving the quality of primary education and improved the efficiency of th e educational system (Cocorda, 2000, p. 59). The neoliberal educatio nal policies and intern ational investment generally prioritized primary educati on funding. For instance, the 1996 World Bank report recommended that the State had to pr ioritize budgeting primary education because the funding for secondary and higher institutions tends to benefit the “rich” students that attend them. Therefore, the Central Bank r ecommended promoting private education and complementing public funding with private fi nancing. It was suggested that private education provides a “beneficial comp etition” to public institutions. The Argentinean educational reform offi cially began with the sanction of the Federal Law of Education of 1993. This law reinstated the 1420 Law of 1884, which until then was the principal regulator of the e ducational system (Tedesco & Tenti, 2001). Among its numerous reforms, the Federal La w of Education decreed an extension of compulsory education, a renovation of curri cular content, dece ntralization of the educational system, and a system of evaluation of educational quality. This law reflects a neoliberal ideology towards education; one of the main market-driven reforms was mandated in Article 4 of the Federal Law of Education: “Educational activities are the responsibility of the family, as primary and na tural agents of educat ion, and of the nation


74 state, as the principal respons ible to the provinces, municipa lities, the Catholic Church, other official religious denomina tions, and social organizations.”6 The Article 4 eliminates the state as th e principal administrator of the education system by declaring “the families” as the primary agents, thereby creating an “educational market.” The formation of th e “educational market” was centered on the belief that the right to edu cation consists of equal opport unity and freedom of choice principles. This concept of education as an individual right regulates the state’s subsidiary role, demanding the right of pare nts to be involved in their children's education, the need for these institutions to be autonomous, and the importance of having a decentralized bureaucracy. The educational markets proposed in this reform are quasimarkets, in which the state has a secondary, yet key, role in education. In this model, the parents’ right to choose thei r children’s schools and the auto nomy of these institutions replace the centralized bureaucracy (Van Zanten, 2000). This freedom of choice was sanctioned by Article 22 of the Provincial La w of Education of 1994, which states that “the students’ parents or guardians have th e right to choose the sc hool that meets their philosophical, moral, and religious convi ctions for their children or ward.”7 The main points involved with the freedom of c hoice included the commodification of the educational system, the priva tization of education services and the introduction of the private sector’s logic to the public sphere (Feldfeber, 2000). According to neoliberal 6 Artculo 4Las acciones educativas son responsabilidad de la familia como agente natural y primario de la educacin, del Estado nacional como responsable principal, de las provincias, los municipios, la Iglesia Catlica, las dems confesiones religiosas oficialmente reconocidas y las organizaciones sociales. 7 Artculo 22Los padres o tutores de los estudiantes tienen derecho a: c) Elegir para sus hijos/as o pupilos/as, la institucin educativa cuyo ideario resp onda a sus convicciones filosficas, ticas o religiosas.


75 ideology, the quality of edu cation will improve “automatically” under the mechanisms of the market. The process of decentralizing the edu cational system started before the sanction of the 1993 Law. In 1991, the government ratified the Law of Transference of the National Educational Services; this ruling transfers the administration of all public schools from the federal government to th e government of each jurisdiction in Argentina.8 This ruling was reinforced in the sanc tion of the Federal La w of Education in 1993. 8 The Argentinean nation is divided into twenty-four jurisdictions: twenty-three provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (which has the same powers and rights as the provinces). Map 1. Jurisdictions of Argentina


76 The decentralization of the system caused th e most radical change in the role of the government in education: it transformed the state from administrator to subsidiary. The federal government’s new role was that of promoting financial, educational, and administrative measures that maintain and encourage the growth of private sector in the educational system. The transfer process of schools was completed by 1994. In addition, as a way to promote private education, Ar ticle 37 of the 1993 Law established that private institutions are entitled to receive publ ic funding to cover the costs of teachers’ salaries (Dioguardi, Gr asso, & Marturano, 2009). However, the neoliberal reforms applie d in the educational system combined a centralizing and decentralizing double logic. While the management of the system was fragmented, the concentration of educa tional control was implemented through the establishment of a standard national curri culum. In addition, the Federal Law of Education established a standardized evalua tion system and a national teacher training system; it also increased the number of sc hool days and the years of compulsory education for all students. The previously mentioned standardized evaluation system was proposed in Article 48 of the 1993 Law: “The Ministry of Culture and Educati on, the provinces and the Municipality of the City of Buenos Aires, must ensure the quality of teaching in the different stages, levels, and special arrange ments, through an ongoing evaluation of the educational system, controlling its adap tation to the provision of this law….”9 The 9 Artculo 48El ministerio de Cultu ra y Educacin de la Nacin, las pr ovincias y la Municipalidad de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, debern garantizar la calidad de la formacin impartida en los distintos ciclos, niveles y regmenes especiales mediante la evaluacin permanente del sistema e ducativo, controlando su adecuacin a lo establecido en esta ley, a las necesidad es de la comunidad, a la poltica educativa nacional, de cada provincia y de la Municipalidad de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires y a las concertadas en el seno del Consejo Federal de Cultura y Educacin.


77 national quality assessment system encouraged policies of financing and funding based on productivity and performance. This mechanism established a competitive system, since the “best schools” were re warded financially. In some cases, funds were released only after the efficiency of establishmen ts was assessed or when mechanisms for nationally centralized systems of control ov er the teaching profession were established, paradoxically, in the context of increasingly decentralized systems of public education (Torres & Puiggros, 1995). Th ese policies demonstrate the trend of the commodification of education and the implementation of a me ritocratic, individualistic, and competitive logic. The competitive and market logic of Menem’ s neoliberal educational policies can be observed in decree N 2.68212 of 1999; this ruling establishes nine “experimental schools” (Feldfeber, 2003). This project uses th e “charter schools” of the United States as a model; these schools are defined as a hybr id of the public and private school. The schools are financed by the state but function independently. The state also evaluates and assesses the progress of the school, and the schools compet e among each other to remain functioning and financed (Feldfeber, 2003) In addition to the evaluation approach, ma jor changes in the funding of education were caused by the decentraliz ation of the system. After the transfer of schools was completed in 1994, the national government cove red 25 percent of th e national education budget, while the remaining is covered by the provinces (Rivas et al., 2010). Given that the national government only contributed to 25% of the educa tional funding, the 1993 reform also encouraged the establishment of parents' cooperatives and associations in schools, in order to raise revenues to suppl ement dwindling state subsidies. These


78 cooperadoras had to cover expenditures for services that used to be free, such as libraries, exams, and salaries for teachers in special subjects (To rres & Puiggros, 1995). Ever since the educational system wa s decentralized and the Ministry of Education did not manage any institution, educational policy was marked by a financial increment effort at both national and provincia l levels. On this note, Article 61 of the Federal Law of Education states that “the to tal public investment in education will be gradually doubled and at minimum rate of 20 percent per year, based on the 1993 budget; or it will be increased by 50 percent based on the percenta ge of the gross domestic product allocated to education in 1992….”10 The implementation of this policy resulted in a large increase on nationa l education spending from 1995 to 1999. However, when compared to the investment in other public sectors, this increase in educational investment did not involve a major effo rt of the national state; all public spending (not just education) as a whole increased during this period in terms of real and relative GDP (Rivas et al., 2010). 4.2.2. Effects of the neoliberal education reform Since 1975, the social structure in Argen tina became progressively unequal and the proportion of people living under the poverty line increased significantly. These social changes had a profound impact on the educational system, and schools became increasingly segregated by the socioeconomic level of their students. In addition to the external social factors that affected the schools, the neo liberal reforms in the educational 10 Artculo 61La inversin pblica consolidada total en educacin (base 992:, ser duplicada gradualmente y como mnimo a razn del 20 por ciento anual a partir del presupuesto 1993; o se considerar un incremen to del 50 por ciento en el porcentaje (base 1992. 4 por ciento) del producto bruto interno (base 1992: 153.004.900.000), destinado a educac in en 1992. En cualquiera de los dos casos, se considerar a los efectos de la definicin de los montos la cifra que resultare mayor.


79 system perpetuated social inequality (R ivas et al., 2010). To understand how these policies fomented inequality, one needs to think about the risk s involved with the decentralization of the system; these include deepening of inequalities between regions and states; inability of some local actors to administer the schools; reduction or deflection of educational funds; and privatization of education (Ibarro lla & Bernal, 2003). Various scholars suggest that the Transf er Law originated as an approach to reduce the public sector budgeting of the fede ral government (Garabn, 2009; Kisilevsky, 1998; Veleda, 2003; Winkler & Geshberg, 2000) : “In Argentina the objective of the reform was simply to transfer the respons ibility for educationa l expenditures to the provincial governments… the question if th is change would improve or worsen the educational quality was not an central concern” (Winkler & Geshberg, 2000, p. 23). Fiscal policy guided the proces s of transferring educational establishments to the jurisdictions without carrying on a thorough ex amination of the facilities that each possessed and lacked; also, the transfer did not take into consideration the financial situation of each jurisdiction and the numbe r of establishments in each (Kisilevsky, 1998). As a result of the lack of strate gy in the transfer of schools, numerous establishments were not able to be sustaine d at a provincial level, causing several schools to deteriorate even further and others to be shut down (Feldfeber, 2000). The high-need schools and their students were the most affected by the dece ntralization policies; instead of creating a competition among institutions th at would improve the quality of schools — as proposed by the neoliberal policies—the decentralization of the system led to a divergence between the richer sc hools and the poorer schools.


80 Between 1980 and 1995, the number of stude nts in primary education increased by 65 percent, and the number of teachers in creased by 55 percent, while public spending in education increased by 13 percent (Tenti 1995). The inadequate funding for education compared to the significant influx of new students into the system led to the deterioration of the Argentinean public schools. This de terioration resulted in elementary and secondary schooling segregated by class, with the poor attending public schools, while middleand upper-class students are largely educated at pr ivate instituti ons (Torres & Puiggros, 1995): Only 7.2 perc ent of students attended priv ate schools in 1940; in contrast, by 2006, this number grew to 22.4 pe rcent (Rivas et al., 2010). This change shows that, while before private education wa s only used by the elite or those students who preferred religious education, “in the pr esent private educati on is an option for almost one quarter of the population: the middl e and high class groups that seek a social distinction” (Veleda, 2003) A national study conducted in 1996 revealed that not only family spending on education increased due to th is expansion of privat e education, but it also increased for those families who remained in public establishments: family spending increased by 15.5 percent for public primary sc hools and 66.2 percent fo r private schools, while at the secondary level the percentages are 14.9 and 60.4, respectively (Rivas et al. 2007, p. 67). The emphasis that the neoliberal educational reform put on primary education also perpetuated educational inequality at the secondary and higher levels. The government’s failure to provide universal s econdary education and adequate funding was most detrimental for those who had the least amount of resources. According to the 2001 Census, by the time students reach higher education, only 30 percent of students


81 belonging to the lowest income quintile are enrolled in an educational institution, in comparison to 70 percent of students belonging to the highest income quintile (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 21). Overall, the market mechanisms app lied by the educational reform were discriminatory, since the “best” educational services are co-opted by those “consumers” who possess the resources to obtain them (Veleda, 2003). This discrimination counteracts the “democratizing” policies of equality in access by advantaging those students who are in positions to attend the best establishm ents. In addition, the market approach and the quality evalua tions led schools to strategical ly choose their “clientele”: “The administrators of the e ducational establishments use se veral subtle, yet effective, measures that exclude the undesirables” (Tenti, 1995, p. 74). The competition caused by the quality assessment system of educati on also contributed to this educational segregation; the better positioned families place their children in the “best” schools. Therefore, the schools that in the first pl ace have more resources tend to have the wealthier students. The segreg ation of social class in sc hools affects th e budget of the institution, since the cooperadoras that are in charge of collecting money for basic necessities have more funding as the socioecono mic status of the students is higher. 4.3. Trajectory from the ne oliberal era to the present The neoliberal policies a pplied throughout the 80’s and 90 ’s in Argentina led to the collapse of the economy in 2001. Th e downfall of the economy had severe repercussions on the political and social sphere s of the nation. The st rategies applied to “stabilize” the economy, such as freezing all bank accounts, caused upheaval and chaos among the Argentinean citizens. By December 2001, the political sector also collapsed


82 and President Fernando de la Rua was forced to resign; a series of four different individuals then occupied the presidential offi ce in less than a two-week period. By this point, the educational sector was facing a severe crisis, marked by high drop-out and grade repetition rates, institu tional disintegration, and a pr ofound educational inequality (Tiramoni, 2009). Educational discrimination a nd segregation resulted in a segmented distribution of education, which prevente d the high-need stude nts from accessing the same levels of education that the dominant groups received. After two years of facing a severe econom ic, political, and social crisis, in 2003, new powers took charge and bega n to create and modify polic ies. This period marked the beginning of a new era, which combined the economic model of the 1990’s with structural changes that promoted domestic production and benefitted employment (Rivas et al. 2007). In the past seven years, Argentin a has been going through a recovery period. On one hand, it is clear that certain sectors of the nati on have been steadily improving— such as the economic sector. On the ot her hand, the governments after Menem’s neoliberal era have failed to radically cha nge some of the most sharp and unjust issues that Argentinean society faced, including income polarization, marginalization and exclusion of large sectors of the populat ion, high unemployment rates, and regional inequalities (Feldfeber, 2007). 4.3.1. Today’s schools Over the last six years, the federal government has a pplied various measures to overcome the educational crisis. The first m easure was taken in 2005 with the sanction of the Education Finance Law; this law esta blished that the national and provincial governments must progressively increase thei r investment in education, science, and


83 technology, until its funding matched six perc ent of the GDP by 2010 (Rivas et al. 2007). However, a substantial increase in the Stat es’ school budget can begin to be observed by 2006 and 2007 (Rivas et al., 2010). The structure of the educational system was modified by the sanction of two laws: The National Education Law of 2006 and the Provincial Educationa l Law of 2007. Both of these decrees attempted to substitute some of the neoliberal educational policies applied during the 90’s. Artic le 11 of the National Education Law of 2006 mandates that the objective of the national educational policy is to “guarantee equal access and opportunities to a high quality education, without regional imbalances or social inequities.”11 On one hand, the expansion of access to education was accomplished before the ratification of the 2006 law: according to 2001 census data, 98.1 percent of the schoolaged population was enrolled in school (CIPPE C, 2008). On the other hard, the matter of equality in quality of educa tion was still an unresolved is sue; therefore, the National Education Law of 2006 places emphasis on meas ures to provide equality in quality. For instance, Article 85 of this law decrees that the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology is to guarantee high educational quality by “establi shing curricular structures and contents, and prioritizing core topics for all levels and years of compulsory schooling.”12 Based on this ruling, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology 11 Artculo 11Los fines y objetivos de la poltica educativ a nacional son: Asegurar una educacin de calidad con igualdad de oportunidades y posibilidades, sin desequilibrios regionales ni inequidades sociales. 12Artculo 85Para asegurar la buena calidad de la educacin, la cohesin y la integracin nacional y garantizar la validez nacional de los ttulos correspondientes, el Mi nisterio de Educacin, Ciencia y Tecnologa, en acuerdo con el Consejo Federal de Educacin: Definir estructuras y contenidos curriculares comunes y ncleos de aprendizaje priorita rios en todos los niveles y aos de la escolaridad obligatoria.


84 published a Curricular Policy Framework in 2007. This document lays the foundation of the national curriculum and de nominates the curriculum as “encompassing all curricular documents—including structure, proposals, or materials—as well as the practices that take place in the teaching and learning proces ses. In other words, not only what is established by the documents, but also what is effectively taught—explicitly and implicitly—and learned in the classroom.”13 In addition, the National Education Law of 2006 tries to achieve equal opportunity in qu ality of education by establishing equal educational resources. For inst ance, Article 91 states that the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology will enhance school libraries and will create them in the institutions that do not posses them14. It is important to note, that even though the law establishes a national curriculum and promotes equality in resources, the government does not provide schools with textbooks or ot her classroom material for student use. The most important educational policies es tablished in the neoliberal period that remain enforced are those that decentralize th e educational system. For instance, Article 5 of the Provincial Educational Law of 2007 dictat es that the province has the principal and irrevocable responsibility to pr ovide, guarantee, and supervise an integral, inclusive, and 13Marco General de Poltica Curricular: La poltica curricula r de la provincia de Buenos Aires se sostiene a partir de una concepcin de curriculum entendido como “sntesis de elementos culturales (conocimientos, valores, costumbres, creencias, hbitos) que conf orman una propuesta poltico-educativa”. Es importante destacar que esta definicin contempla tanto los docu mentos curriculares –ya sean diseos, propuestas o materiales de desarrollo curricularcomo las prcti cas concretas que se expresan en los procesos de enseanza y de aprendizaje. Es decir, no slo lo que se establece a travs de documentos, sino tambin lo que efectivamente se ensea –en forma explcita e implcitay se aprende en el aula. 14 Artculo 91El Ministerio de Ed ucacin, Ciencia y Tecnologa, en ac uerdo con el Cons ejo Federal de Educacin, fortalecer las bibliot ecas escolares existentes y asegurar su creacin y adecuado funcionamiento en aquellos establecimientos que carezcan de las mismas.


85 permanent education for all its habitants.15 Along these lines, Article 121 of the National Education Law of 2006 validates that the provincial governments are responsible for planning, organizing, administrating, and financ ing their respective e ducational systems, based on the social, economic, and cu ltural needs of their jurisdiction.16 However, the national government does not provide any as sistance for those provinces with urgent “social, economic, and cultural needs”; in the provincial regul ations, only four Constitutions mention the obligation of the Stat e to implement a system of grants as a mechanism to generate equali ty in educational opportunities —this is the case in the provinces of Jujuy, Misiones, San Luis, a nd Neuquen (Rivas et al. 2007). Furthermore, the current policies continue to promote priv ate education by providing public funding to private institutions. This pr ocedure is endorsed by Articl e 65 of the 2006 Law, which establishes that the national government will s ubsidize certain private institutions through the payment of teachers’ salaries.17 4.3.2. Today’s educational problems Despite the measures taken to overcome th e educational crisis, basic issues, such as low quality, unequal access, low retention, grade repetition, high drop-out rates, are 15 Artculo 5La Provincia, a travs de la Di reccin General de Cultura y Educacin, tiene la responsabilidad principal e indelegable de proveer, garantizar y supervisar una educacin integral, inclusiva, permanente y de calidad para todos sus habitantes, garantizando la igualdad, gratuidad y la justicia social en el ejercicio de este derecho, con la participacin del conjunto de la comunidad educativa. 16 Artculo 121Los gobiernos provinciales y de la Ciudad Autnoma de Buenos Aires, en cumplimiento del mandato constitucional, deben: Ser responsables de planificar, organizar, administrar y financiar el sistema educativo en su jurisdiccin, segn sus pa rticularidades sociales, econmicas y culturales. 17Artculo 65La asignacin de aportes financieros por parte del Estado destinados a los salarios docentes de los establecimientos de gesti n privada reconocidos y autorizados por las autoridades jurisdiccionales competentes, estar basada en criterios objetivos de ju sticia social, teniendo en cuenta la funcin social que cumple en su zona de influencia, el tipo de establecimiento, el proyecto educativo o propuesta experimental y el arancel que se establezca.


86 still present (Feldfeber, 2007; Rivas et al., 2010; Tiramon ti, 2009). The principal issue impeding the end of the educat ional crisis is that the gove rnment did not approach the problems with integral policies, but rather with individual res ponses to the present political needs (Feldfeber, 2007, p. 130). To understand the magnitude of the inequa lity problem caused by the transfer law and the defragmentation of the educational system, it is necessary to acknowledge the social disparities between the provinces. For example, in 2007, the Buenos Aires Province’s public spending reached AR$1,878 pe r person, while the province of Santa Cruz used AR$11,781 per person (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 46). This indicates that within one nation provinces coexist with resources that resemble those of the developed countries and provinces with resources sim ilar to the poorest nati ons in South America (Rivas et al., 2010). The discrepancy in resour ces between provinces is directly correlated to the vast inequalities in educational budgets For instance, while the relatively wealthy provinces in the Patagonia spend annually 4,500 pesos per student in public education, the most populated provinces spend half of this amount and the poorest spend even less, 2,171 pesos (Rivas et al., 2010). Therefore, the most populated provinces are the most affected because they receive the same amount of federal assistance as the other provinces, yet they need to di stribute the budget into more establishments and students. Furthermore, the provinces with the hi ghest levels of pove rty have the worst establishments and the people who need them the most. The discrepancy in per-student funding among the provinces is reflected in the quality of education and the di stribution of educational resour ces. For instance, the results of the National Evaluation of E ducation reveal that the province of Buenos Aires, which


87 was one of the jurisdictions most affected by the fragmentation of the educational system, descended from being ranked number two out of the twenty-four provinces in Argentina in terms of educational quality in 1997 to number sixteen in 2007 (CIPPEC, 2008). Furthermore, recent national assessments re veal the unequal distribution of resources among its public schools: as of 2010, 12 percen t of the public schools in Argentina had more students than desks available, a nd 20.2 percent of schools did not have enough bathrooms based on the number of students (Riv as et al., 2010, p. 70). This lack of basic resources contravenes the right to educati on. Additionally, an international examination reveals that only 53 percent of the students in Argentinean primary schools own and use, at least, one textbook (R ivas et al., 2010, p. 72). Given that around ninety pe rcent of the educational funding goes to paying salaries, the differences in per-pupil spending are also reflected in the teachers’ wages: while in the province of Tierra del Fue go salaries exceed AR$1,000 per month, in the poorest jurisdiction some teachers live in poverty; in the provinces of Misiones and Tucumn, teachers were receiving less th an AR$490 per month (Mezzadra & Rivas, 2005). The inequality in teachers’ salaries dir ectly impacts the quality of education, since the teachers that receiv e the lowest wages tend to carry ou t strikes and prot ests that put on hold educational activities: “Between 1994 a nd 2004, the provinces that faced more than forty consecutive days of teachers’ strikes tend to be those that offer the lowest salaries and have the lowest per-student budget” (Mezzadra & Rivas, 2005, p. 3). The effects of the education neoliber al reform of the 1990’s, including the deterioration of the public schools’ quality and the resu lting expansion of private education, are still present today. In comparison to ot her nations, Argentina is


88 characterized by having a large private educational sector, wh ich serves one quarter of nations’ students. This phenomenon is not on ly caused by the neoliberal policies that weakened public education, but the federal government c ontinues to promote private education: 65.2 percen t of the private schools in Arge ntina receive a federal subsidy which covers teachers’ wages. In 2005, the transfer of state resources to private establishments added up to AR$2,482 million; this number represents 13 percent of the total educational budget (CIPPEC, 2009). For example, in 2005, the Buenos Aires Province spent 2,111 pesos per student in pub lic education and AR$820 per student in private sector. A study by the Centro de Implementacin de Polticas Pblicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC) (Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth) shows that in addition to the AR$820, each student in private school had an average tuition of AR$1,946; therefore, the spending on public schools per student was 30 percent lower than the budget for private school students in the Buenos Aires Province (Rivas et al., 2010). Additionally, other studies show that private and public schools refl ects the existing social gap. According to one study, if the population was equally divided into thirds based on income, 92 percent of the lowest third attend public institutions, in comparison to 42 percent of the highest third. However, these numbers are distorted because the higher social class encompasses a much smaller number than one-third of the Argentin ean population; “thus, if the population was divided into ten groups based on income, the numbers would show that the majority of the highest tenth of the population attends pr ivate schools” (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 91). The deterioration of educational quality in Argentina and the inequality in distribution are also reflected in international quality assess ments, such as the Program


89 for International Student Assessment (PISA) In the 2003 PISA evaluation, Argentina was ranked number six out of forty-three nations, in terms of having the largest divergence of results between schools (CIPPEC 2008). In 2006, the PISA evaluation measured the quality of education in fi fty-seven countries, including all “developed countries.” Argentina was placed at the bot tom of this ranking: number fifty-one in science, fifty-two in mathematics, and fifty-three in readi ng (CIPPEC 2008). In comparison to the results of 2000, out of the thir ty-six countries that participated in both the 2000 and the 2006 evaluations, Argentina wa s the one with the largest drop in the results for reading. Aside from the unequal financial distribution, another cause for the discrepancy in educational quality among schools is the failu re to address the he terogeneity of the students (Feldfeber, 2007). These problems contri bute to the fact that only 31 percent of the students who enter first grade finish their secondary education. The educational system is marked by high levels of grade repetition, which surpasses 25 percent of the students in primary school (R ivas et al., 2007). The problem s of educational exclusion and grade repetition manifest in secondary school, when the drop-out rates increase dramatically. In 2004, there was a 9.6 percent drop-out rate in the seventh to ninth grade: practically, ten out of a hundred students who start the school year in those levels do not continue to the next one (Riv as et al., 2007). The situation exacerbates between the tenth and twelve grades, in which the drop-out rate was 16.8 percent by 2004. The educational inequalities between regions, caused by the fragmentation of the system, are also reflected in the drop-out rates. For instance, in 2004, the poor est provinces, such as the


90 province of Buenos Aires or Jujuy, had a dr op-out rate between th e tenth and twelve grades that surpassed 20 pe rcent (Rivas et al. 2007). Research reveals that the divergence in distribution and educational quality favors the groups that are better positioned in th e social hierarchy. For instance, one study indicates that in 2008 the public schools with st udents of higher soci oeconomic status had more technological equipment and buildings in better conditions than schools of students of lower socioeconomic status (Rivas et al, 2010, p. 152). A study carried out by the CIPPEC in 2004 indicates that the public sc hools with the poorest students have fewer computers, the least experienced teachers a nd administrators, and th e most deteriorated buildings—in comparison to the public schools that have the wealth ier students (Rivas, Veleda, & Vera, 2009). According to this study, the uneven distribut ion based on social class results from several factors, including the State’s failure to plan and distribute resources equitably due to the lack of c onsideration of socioeconomic indicators and policies that are too broad. Another contributing factor is residential and spatial segregation; this results in homogeneous school s that reflect the soci oeconomic status of the regions in which the institution are located. Furthermore, schools themselves reproduce disparities by the unequa l collection of funding by the cooperadoras ; the budget of the cooperadoras varies by the socioeconomic position of students and parents, and tends to be used for vital aspects for the functioning of the school (Rivas, Veleda, & Vera, 2009). This system of cooperadoras which has been established by educational policies since the 1990’s, puts the most disadv antaged students in a further disadvantaged position.


91 The processes of residential segregat ion have a high impact in education, reflecting the social ineq ualities of the region onto the schools. Although this phenomenon was brought up by the 2004 CIPPEC study, the distribution of educational opportunities based on the socioeco nomic levels of different re gions has not been widely examined (Veleda, 2005). “While in Englis h-speaking countries this issue has been present in their literature for at least twenty years, there are few studies that focus on this matter in Latin America” (Terigi, 2009, p. xi). In Argentina, the issue of educational inequality is centered on inequalities found among provinces; some studies, however, do exam ine the relation between the levels of poverty within the provinces and its relation to ed ucational opportunities. For instance, Fernndez, Lemos, and Wiar (1997) c onducted a study based on census data, which showed that educational inequalities are deeper at an intra-provincial level than at an inter-provincial; “the magnitude of the e ducational inequalities found between provinces expands significantly when observing th e social inequalities within these regions”(Fernndez, Lemos, & Wiar, 1997, p. 198). One major study on residential segrega tion and its impact on education was carried out by Cecilia Veleda between 2001 and 2003. Veleda examines how the province of Buenos Aires refl ects its social and resident ial segmentation in its public school system. The study is centered on two regi ons within the province of Buenos Aires: General San Martin, a region mostly compos ed of a low-middle class population, and Vicente Lpez, a region mainly composed of a high-middle class. Throughout extensive field work, Veleda finds that the schools are not only segregated as a reflection of residential segregation, but th ere are also endogenous factors that contributed to schools


92 that are homogenous in terms of social class (Veleda, 2005). Given that families have the “freedom” of choosing their child ren’s educational establishmen ts, schools try to attain as many students as possible; however, in the ca se of the highest “demanded schools,” they get to select their student population base d on social and educa tional criteria. The structure of the educational system reinforces institutional segregation; for instance, the “most popular schools” have the privilege to choose their students, and since the socioeconomic status of the studen ts is reflected in the parents’ cooperadora funding and the quality assessments results, they try to fa vor children with this profile (Veleda, 2005, p. 54). Veleda also observed that the student s who could not enter --or did not try to enter-the schools positioned at the top of the hierarchy go to the institutions positioned at the middle of the hierarchy. At the very bottom, those schools that could not gather enough students; these institutions tend to re sort to decreasing academic standards or offering in-school food banks, as a way to attr act the children in disadvantaged positions (Veleda, 2005, p. 55). The study concludes by sta ting that the socioeco nomic status of the students is correlated with the school’s prestig e, its academic level, the quality of its teachers, the resources available, and the funding of the cooperadora. Conclusion In this chapter we have seen an overv iew of the formation of the Argentinean educational system, its influences and objectiv es. From starting as a tool to indoctrinate “barbarians” and form “good citizens,” th e role of the school has been changing according to economic, political, and social shif ts. The influence of neoliberal policies in all spheres during the military dictatorship in the 1970’s and 1980’s marked a beginning of a major transformation of the educational system. These market-driven policies, which

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93 became fully implemented during the 1990’s, had an enormous impact in the inequality of wealth. Census results, su rveys, and studies from the 1990’s and 2000’s reveal that as the gap between the rich and the poor in Argentina became wider, the inequality in educational offer also expanded. For instance, the neoliberal policies that fragmented the educational system resulted in an uneven di stribution of resources, given that the main source for funding became each of the twenty -four jurisdictions in Argentina (twentythree provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires). Empirical research shows that there are grave inter-jurisdictional ineq ualities, however, few studies examine if all students within one jurisdiction have th e same opportunities to access a good quality education. Therefore, given the limitations of the existing works, I conducted a study to examine if within one jurisdiction (the Aut onomous City of Buenos Aires), having the same primary source of funding and the same curriculum results in equality in access to a good education. In the following chapter, Methodology, I will expl ain the logic and procedures to test this hypothesis.

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94CHAPTER 5: Methodology Given the limited research on how social inequalities within a province affect education, my study examines the educational system within the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (note that the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is separated from the province of Buenos Aires, acting as two differe nt jurisdictions). The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (ACBA) has been historically expanding, encompassing seventeen percent of the total Argentinean population in 1870 to forty percent in 2010 (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 33).18 The city is socioeconomically diverse a nd geographically segregated; its southern region is composed mostly of a lower socioeconomic status population, and the northern region has a higher socioeconomic status populat ion (Rivas et al, 2007). For instance, the diversity in socioeconomic st atus is reflected in the num bers of dwelling ownership: while 60.7 percent of the population of ACBA owns a property, 27.7 percent rents, and 11.6 percent are occupant by special permissi on, assistance, or loan (Terigi, 2009, p. 33). The region constitutes a paradigmatic location for the analysis of the relation between residential and educational segrega tion due to the significant number of youth living in poverty: 16.1 pe rcent of the population in ACBA is under fourteen years old and 20.1 percent of these minors live below the poverty line (INDEC, 2006). The city’s social inequality is reflected by a profound level of urban poverty, which is perpetuated by a “federal scheme of unfair distributi on of resources” (Rivas el at. 2010, p. 114). Furthermore, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires was one of the epicenters of the neoliberal economic crisis of 2001; “due to the large number of households that were vulnerable to cope with those conflicts and critical situations, ch ildren and adolescents 18 All literature and statistical data used in the first two sections of this chapter (5 and 5.1) were translated from Spanish to English by me.

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95 were the most affected segment of the disa dvantaged population, as they then have the highest drop-out rates and the majority ca nnot obtain employment” (Leporee, 2006, p. 9). My study will examine whether the social inequality found in Buenos Aires and its geographic segregat ion by socioeconomic status are re flected in schools. Therefore, I will analyze if, depending on the region within the city, schools are stratified by social class and how this stratification impacts the students’ educati onal opportunities. In addition, I will consider if the schools in the residentially segregated ACBA use the same mechanisms that contribute to producing and reproducing social inequalities in the residentially segregated cities of the Un ited States; these mechanisms, which were described in chapter two, include the unequal distributi on of knowledge and economic and cultural resources. 5.1. Choosing sample school districts Existing research on the United Stated has shown that territorial segregation is highly reflected in the educational sphere; theref ore, to prove that this effect also occurs in Argentina, the research sample has fi rst to be drawn based on location (Anyon, 2005; Cordon & Roscigno, 2003; Dumas 2009; Dreier et al., 2004; Fruchter, 2007; Herriott & St. John, 1996; Massey & Denton, 1993; Sagalyn & Frieden 1992 ) Therefore, I selected to examine Argentinean schools that were loca ted within the same c ity but in different school districts. Specifically, the school districts chosen had to differ in socioeconomic demographics. By choosing school district s located in the same jurisdiction, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, all sc hools should be receiving the same funds and covering the same national curriculum. For the academic year of 2009, the city of Buenos Aires had 662,332 students enrolled in pub lic primary schools and spent yearly

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96 AR$5196.64 per student (CIPPEC, 2009); this a llocation is the primary source of the funding that public primary sc hools receive in the ACBA. The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is officially divided into twenty-one districts (INDEC, 2001c). Given that the national census does not measure the income based on region, for the purpose of selecting di stricts of varying socioeconomic status – high, middle, and low– I analyzed the statistics on the living conditions of the residents of each district. The last census, carried out in 2001, reports the percentage of people living in “critical overcrowded conditions”—someone who is living in a residence where a room is shared by three or more people. The percentage of people li ving in these critical overcrowded conditions range from 0.2 percen t to 10.6 percent; the mean percentage for the twenty-one districts is 3.5 percent, and it has a standa rd deviation of 2.2 percent (INDEC, 2001b). Based on this information, I calculated that thos e districts standing between 1.3 percent and 5.8 percen t represent territories composed mainly by people with a middle socioeconomic status. Those district s that have from 0.2 percent to 1.2 percent of people in critical overcrowded conditi ons were considered to represent high socioeconomic status areas. The districts th at had above 5.8 percent of their population living in critical overcrowde d conditions were labeled as low socioeconomic locations. Based on these standards, of the twenty-one di strict divisions of Bu enos Aires, five are considered to contain a population with highsocioeconomic status, eleven districts of middle-socioeconomic status, and five of low-socioeconomic status. These socioeconomic regional divisions based on liv ing conditions concur with the existing research findings which state that the ACBA is socioeconomically divided into three parts: the south is mostly composed of a lower socioeconomic status population, the

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97 center has mainly a middle-class populat ion, and the northern region has a higher socioeconomic status population (Rivas et al, 2007). Map 2. Districts of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires 5.2. Choosing sample schools Once I had the school districts labeled by high, middle, and low socioeconomic status, I had to select one public prim ary school from each division. The reason for carrying out field work at three different sc hools is because it allows for the comparison of the three typical la yers of social stratification base d on the location of the institution. This comparative analysis permits the resear ch to contrast the students’ educational

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98 experience based on the general social class category of the district where the school is located. In addition, having a sample of three institutions was sufficient to compare the impact that socioeconomic status has on education. Snowball sampling technique was applied to get access into the three schools where the study’s field work was carried ou t. I was referred to different schools’ principals by an educational science profe ssor who knew about my research project; after explaining my study and the field work procedur es to the administrators at the schools I was granted access to three institutions. Subsequent to accessing the three sa mple schools, the study was narrowed by focusing only on sixth-grade classes within those institutions. One of the principal reasons for choosing sixth grade is that it is the last grade in primary school. The Argentinean public secondary school system is complex since it is split into two models: Educacion Secundaria and Polimodal; thus, the official curricul um is not the same in all public secondary institutions. In addition, examining the sixth grade allows me to compare how the students are being prepared for secondary school. Another reason for studying the sixth grad e is that, as of 2009, the total school attendance rate in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires was 99 percent for sixto twelve-year-olds and 89.5 percen t for thirteen to seventeen-y ear-olds (Rivas et al., 2010). Even though school attendance is compulsory between the ages of five and seventeen, attendance in primary school is higher than in secondary. Therefore, narrowing the focus on elevenand twelve-year-old students seemed to contribute to a more representative sample, given that only one percent of student s that age are not enrolled in an educational institution

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99 The research sample was further narr owed by centralizing ultimately on sixthgrade social studies classes. According to Michael Apple (1979), “social studies and science as they are ta ught in the large majo rity of schools provide some of the most explicit instances of hidden teaching” (p.82). Due to the subjectivity of the subject, I expected to find the most vari ations in didactic approaches in social studies courses among the different schools. 5.3. Triangulation method Given the macro-nature of the research subject, I chose to apply methodological triangulation to increase the validity of the fi ndings. Identifying and deciphering a hidden curriculum encompasses several variables; th erefore, data has been collected from multiple sources and through multiple qualita tive methods: classroom observations, openended interviews, and content analysis. Each method employed served to complement the others, as well as to contribute to the corr oboration of the findings. The field work was carried out in a period of four months, st arting in March and ending in June 2010. The principal ethical issue that I ha d to address for the field work is confidentiality, both of the teachers and the schools. After being granted permission to carry out the field work by the principal of each school, I had to present my research proposal to the sixth-grade teacher and be aut horized to conduct the investigation. I kept participants’ names, names of the schools, and the districts confidential. All the field notes and interviews were transcribed onto my computer before returning to the U.S. Each interview was coded by the socioeconomic status of the school (HSES, MSES, and LSES) and by teacher 1 or 2. All the field wo rk data collected was in Spanish; after analyzing it, the fragments used in the th esis were translated to English by me.

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100 5.3.1. Classroom observations One of the methods carried out was clas sroom observations; this consisted on observing eight sessions of the sixth-grade social studies class in each school. After obtaining consent from the teachers in each school, I was given a schedule of the times social studies was taught. In each of the thre e schools, I varied the days and times I observed the classes; I did this to see if the classroom dynami cs differed according to the time the class was held or the day of the w eek. During the observations I sat in the back of the room, took notes on several aspects of the classroom, and did not interact with the students. I analyzed the classroom atmosphere and environment, in cluding structure and resources available. I paid close attenti on to the interactions between teachers and students, as well as among students. Both the content being taught and the pedagogical approach were evaluated; this included an swering questions such as: How much space for critical thinking does the educator gives the students? How interac tive are classes? Do teachers use lectures or are there active le arning activities? In addition, I examined how much time the instructor devoted to discip line and how the disciplinary messages were transmitted to the students. In addition to the premeditated questions I prepared, each class and each school brought up new relevant matters. 5.3.2. Interviews Another approach used to evaluate ine quality and consider whether a hidden curriculum existed in each classroom wa s employing open-ended interviews with teachers. I interviewed each of the social studies teachers who taught in the classes I observed. In addition, I interviewed a supplementary sixth-grade teacher from each school. Conducting two interviews at each schoo l was pertinent to obtain a different point

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101 of view in addition to the one from the teach er seen in the classroom observations. Also, it served as a way to confirm the teachers’ pe rceptions on the institution where they were working. The interviews were semi-structu red, and each lasted about forty minutes. Some of the goals of the interview we re to gain a better understanding of the teaching practices; to find differences and/or similarities among the methods used by the different teachers; to examine the classroom expectations for each teacher; and to find patterns with the qualifications of the teacher and the socioeconomic level of the school. Teachers were asked about their qualificati ons and experiences in the field, their involvement in the school, and their points of view about the class’s st ructure. I also used the interviews to reaffirm some of the issu es or matters observed in the classroom. The question about expectations and the work of the students was repeated in all six interviews. I asked the teachers to express how relevant they thought the content of their course is for the students’ life and academic career. 5.3.3. Content Analysis Another method employed to complement the comparison of schools was content analysis, which consisted of examining and decoding the textbooks used in the social studies classes observed. Even though the cu rriculum is imposed by the government, the State does not provide schools with textbooks; th erefore, each teacher has the freedom to select the class’s textbook. I narrowed this method by focusing on a specific recurring topic in all textbooks (such as a historical event or civics topic) and comparing the three books to see if they cover the same ideas, how they each present “facts, ” and what type of questions are asked. The idea to compare soci al studies textbooks arises from Apple’s argument, which suggests that:

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102 It has become increasingly evident that the formal corpus of schools knowledge found in, say, most history books and social studies texts and materials has, over the years, presented a somewhat biased view of the true nature of amount and possible use of internecine strife in whic h groups in this country and others have engaged. (Apple, 1979, p. 93) The choice of material used in class reflects as well the covert and overt ideologies that are being inculcated and internalized by students. Conclusion By conducting my study in schools located in the same jurisdiction, the variables of the official curriculum and state funding are constant: the primary source of funding should be equal in amount for all institutions, and the official curriculum covered should be the same. Therefore, by selecting schools lo cated in different socioeconomic sectors, I can examine if the educational experience va ries by the socioeconomic status of the students. In the following chapter, I presen t the results from the classroom observations and interviews conducted in each institution, as well as the results from the analysis of the content of the material used in each classroom. By employing classroom observations, teacher interviews, and content analysis, we can see how the socioeconomic status of the school and its st udents shapes the classroom and learning experiences.

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103CHAPTER 6: Data and analysis In the previous chapter I posit that the Autonomous C ity of Buenos Aires is polarized along class lines; th erefore its public schools te nd to group populations that mainly pertain to the same social class. In this chapter I show how socioeconomic status of the students attending public schools in Buenos Aires impact s their education. I present the findings from the classroom observa tions, interviews, and content analysis, at each of the schools, the LSES, MSES, and HSES.19 The chapter is divided into four parts, each encompassing the main factors that shape the students’ educational experience: The first two parts deal with the central agents in the educational process: the teacher s and the students. The last two parts deal with the objects that affect the shape in the interaction among and between these agents: educational resources and the curriculum. I address each separately to provide an explanation of their character. Each part is subdivided into three sec tions, examining several aspects of those factors. Part one is about the teachers interv iewed and observed during their social studies course. It includes information about their qua lifications as teachers, how they exercised authority in class, what norms and values were transmitted though discipline, and how they perceived and modified the official curriculum. The second part is about th e students and their parents. It examines how the ethnic background of the students shap es their academic experien ce; how the involvement of parents in the school is refl ected in the funds and resour ces of the school; and how the 19 LSES= Low socioeconomic status; MSES= Middle so cioeconomic status; HSES= High socioeconomic status. The socioeconomic status of the school was determined by the socioeconomic status of the school district.

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104 involvement of parents outside school impact s the students’ academic performance and the curriculum. Part three is about the relation between resources and education. It presents the differences in material used in class throughout the three schools, the different resources each inst itution possessed and offered, and the impact the students’ assets had on the curriculum. The last part examines the content of the lessons and academic materials used in class. It partic ularly focuses on the transmission of norms, values, and ideologies that reinforce a soci al position. It also includes how knowledge is distributed and the impact that teaching met hods have in the lear ning experience of the student. 20 6.1. Part I: Teachers Teachers’ qualifications, approaches to di scipline in the classroom, various ways of using the curriculum and managing clas sroom activities are components of the complex dynamics of a classroom which shape the learning experience. 6.1.1. Teachers’ qualifications Similar to other professions, the experience and training that teachers receive is reflected in their work. Through various in-dep th interviews, I was able to compare the educational qualification of teachers based on the socioeconomic status of their institution: two interviewees worked at the LSES school, two at the MSES school, and two at the HSES school. One interviewee fr om each of the three schools taught in the classes I observed; therefore, I was able to analyze and corroborate if their experience in the educational field resonated when teaching and managing the classroom. 20 All data used in this chapter was translated from Spanish to English by me.

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105 Prior to evaluating the qualif ications of the teachers at each school, it is necessary to understand the hiring proce ss that each educator must go through. In the Argentinean educational system, teachers obtain their posit ions based on a point system: when there is an opening at a school, teachers apply and the ones with the most point s have priority in obtaining the job. These points ar e awarded to educators base d on their studies and years of experience in the teachi ng field; currently, the require ments to become a licensed primary school teacher is completing three years in a higher education institute and subsequently one year of re sidency. A common issue with this system is that since teachers tend to prefer to work at schools that have a solid structure and numerous resources, the wealthier school s get to hire the most qua lified applicants. As the interviews show, there are always some ex ceptions in which teachers with significant experience prefer to work at instit utions with disadvantaged populations. A professor whom I observed teaching soci al sciences at the LSES school had thirty years of experience on the field; sh e mentioned that she was one of the most experienced teachers at the school. This teach er completed the mandatory training in a year and a half and started working in the educ ational field when she was eighteen; at that time the studies required to become a teacher were less demanding than they are now. Although she claims, “I graduated when I wa s eighteen and I needed to start working right away,” she mentions, that regardless of the financial ne ed to have a job, she always wanted to be a teacher. In her years of expe rience, she worked with different grades and different socioeconomic populations at various institutions located in different districts, and with different grades. “Since I began teachi ng I always worked with the subjects of social studies and language arts because that is my passion; it is like I am meant to teach

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106 about these topics.” At the time of the inte rview, the teacher was working at another school during the afternoons due to “fin ancial necessities”; even though the other institution was located in another district, she says that the popul ations at both schools were similar. She explained that her preferen ce for teaching at schools located in districts of low socioeconomic status arises from he r personal experiences; since she came from an underprivileged family and had to atte nd low-resource school s during her childhood, she wanted to “help make a difference for ch ildren in that position.” In comparison with the other five, she had completed the fewest ye ars of studies to become an educator but was the one with the most years of experience in the field. Her justifications for working at that particular school dem onstrate her awareness of the so cial class of her students and the precarious situati on of the institution. A second teacher interviewed at the LS ES school was the youngest and had the least teaching experience out of all the interviewees. She had been teaching for three years; one of those years she worked as a s ubstitute teacher. Her preparation to become a teacher included two-and-a-half years of the required teacher training and half a year of mandatory “residency.” The residency was co mpleted at a primary school located in a middle class district; however, the teacher was already familiar with the population of this LSES school because she was from the area. During her three years of experience, she worked teaching different grades and differe nt subjects; at the time of the interview, she was teaching natural sciences and mathema tics to the sixth grade. When I asked why she applied to work at this school, she replie d that “they tend to hire young teachers” and that its location is convenient because she li ves nearby. In addition, she needed to get a job right away, and one of the reasons she thought teaching was a good profession is that

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107 “it does not require too many years of pr eparation and you can work as soon as you complete the training.” This teacher also f ound it necessary to work at a second school during the afternoon, which was also lo cated in the same district. The social studies teacher interviewed and observed during class at the MSES school had been working in the educational fi eld for seventeen years. Sixteen of those years had been spent at this MSES school; durin g the last ten years, he had been teaching the sixth grade and social studies. His first year of teaching was combined with his residency at a school outside the city of Buenos Aires. This interviewee’s preparations as a teacher included a three-year mandatory tr aining, paid residency, and four years of “recreational studies” with a degree as a “recreational instructor.” His working experiences also included a job in the field of “non-formal e ducation” as a coordinator of a summer camp for six years. According to this teacher, his additional degree and experience provided him with enough points to obtain a job at “this great institution.” When I asked about his future plans, he me ntioned that he is very pleased with the environment at the school and has no intentions of changing his job. The other teacher interviewed at the MS ES school also had seventeen years of experience teaching: he worked one year as a substitute teacher for a private school and sixteen years at this MSES school. At the time of the interview, he was teaching natural sciences and mathematics to the sixth grade. He had been teaching the same subjects for the last nine years in grades ranging from fifth to seventh. This teacher completed the mandatory training in three years and did hi s residency for half a year. Aside from working the morning and afternoon shifts at the MSES school, he also had been working

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108 for four years in the teache rs’ union as part of the co mmittee that awards the points previously described to teacher candidates. The teacher interviewed and observed duri ng her classes at the HSES had similar qualifications to the MSES teach ers: they all had seventeen y ears of experience, they all worked for the most part in the same instit ution, and they all had to complete the threeyear mandatory teacher training. This teacher ha d also been working in sixth grade social studies classes for eight years; she explained that, in primar y schools, “teachers with less experience tend to work in the first to fourth grade because it requires you to teach all four main subjects; teachers at the fift h, sixth, seventh grade tend to have more experience and they only concentrate in depth on one or two subjects.” This idea is valid in all of the cases observed in this study, except for the LS ES school teacher who taught the sixth grade with only three years of teaching experience. The second teacher interviewed at the HSES school stood out from the other interviewees because her studies included a degree in biology. This teacher only had five years of experience in the field of education, but she was exclusively hire d to improve the science program and teach natural sciences for the fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. She completed a two-year training to teach natural sciences, as well as five years of studies in biology. The data presented shows that, in most in stances, the socioeconomic status of the institution is positively correlated with years of education and training of the teacher. The point system used to hire teachers reinfor ces inequalities among schools. According to one of the HSES school teachers, an initia tive carried by the Mini stry of Education attempted to even out the disparities by se nding “the best teachers” to “problematic schools.” The project consisted of encouragi ng the “good teacher” with a twenty percent

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109 increase in salary, if he/she took a pos ition at a difficult school. However, due to insufficient funds, the project was not carried out. The qualifications of the teachers are refl ected in how they teach and how they manage the classroom. The variation on trai ning and experience often determined the activities executed in class, teaching appr oach, time management, and views on the relevance of the material. Throughout the rest of the chapter, I provide concrete examples on how the variation on teachers’ qualifications was a contributing factor to the variation of the educational experience of the students in each school. 6.1.2. Discipline and classroom management A portion of each class was devoted, circum stantially, to inculcate discipline and obedience in the students. Th rough classroom observation, I was able to evaluate how long the teacher disciplined students, what message they were conveying, and what patterns existed in the “behavioral” problems of students. It is understood that discipline in the classroom varies depending on the teach er; however, there is also a difference in the attitude of the students and the issues that each teacher needs to address. It was extremely common for the teacher at the MSES school to begin his class by disciplining and “putting things in order:” Right after class started he would make the students put away all food and put on thei r white smocks. In reference to disobeying classroom rules, the teacher at the MSES sc hool talked about priv ileges and asked in a defying manner if anyone in th e class was “related to someon e important in order to have privileges.” This approach shows that in some way the teacher is treating students by their social class; it is also transmitting the message that if you have a certain status you could have privileges to do whatever you please.

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110 In contrast, in two instances at th e LSES and HSES schools, the teachers commenced the class by scolding the students because they came late after recess was over. The teacher at the LSES school be gan class disciplining only when it was necessary—such as having students arriving five minutes late to class. At this institution, the students were taught to stand in a line be fore entering the classroom after recess; the teacher would make the girls go in first and then the boys. In one instance, when class was held at the school’s TV-room, the teacher implemented this practice; the problem was that there were not enough chairs for all tw enty-three students to sit on, so some of the boys had to sit on the floor. At the end of th e class, the teacher se nt all the girls back to the classroom and had the boys stayed to fix the room. This approach makes an excessive gender distinction and ends up incu lcating stereotypical gender norms—such as girls being delicate and boys strong. In compar ison to what I observed in the LSES and MSES, the classes at the HSES school commen ced by jumping right into the lesson; there was only one instance when the teacher had to quiet down the group before starting the lecture. The HSES school teach did not have to spend much time on disciplining at the beginning of class because the students seemed to have been taught that whenever the teacher enters the classroom they need to quiet down. In addition, the HSES school teacher did not place much emphasis on addr essing certain norms that the MSES school teacher would enforce (such as eating in cla ss or wearing the white smocks); instead, the teacher tried to maximize the classroom time by quickly starting the lesson. The issue of taking care of the school’s property and the st udent’s own supplies was a common source of disciplining at the MSES and LSES schools. However, there was a relevant difference in the approach ta ken at each school. At the MSES school, the

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111 teacher would only lecture the students on th e importance of taking care of books and advised them to use a book-cover for thei r own textbooks. The teacher at the LSES schools taught the students to take care of th e class supplies that th ey own and that the school provides, “because there is nothing to spare.” In reference to the use of a large map of North and South America —the only map that the school owned—the teacher stated: “we have to take care of the supplies that the school provides us, because it is truly a privilege to have them.” The emphasis gi ven to the need to value what they have reflects the students’ and the school’s social position. In comparison to the LSES school’s resources, the HSES and MSES schools had one large map of North and South America in each classroom. Another discipline-related issue that occu rred exclusively at LSES school was that of having several students unprepared for cl ass. For instance, during one class, the students had an exam where they were requi red to bring three small maps, which cost approximately twenty cents each; there were seven students who were not able to bring them –or might have forgotten them—and coul d not take the exam. The teacher got upset and asked them for their “communication not ebooks” (a notebook where teachers send notifications to parents) and wrote to the students’ parents asking them to provide their children with the necessary materials for the course. This occurrence shows that even when the teacher intended to use external re sources to engage the students with the material, it was not feasible because th e school could not provide her with those resources and many students could not obtain them. This example contrasts with an occurrence at the MSES school, where the student s also needed a map for class and six of them forgot to bring them. Since there is a “kiosk” at the school that sells supplies and

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112 food, the teacher lent them money to get them. In addition, at the LSES school, there wa s a particular student who was always unprepared for class; the teach er approached this problem by taking his “communication notebook” and scheduled an appointment with the student’s mother. The student argued with the teacher that his mother cannot make it during school hours because she is always working; the teacher responded by changing the meeting time to 7AM. The issue of having students unprepared occurred in ev ery class at the LSES school. The teacher warned her students that this “attitude” will be accounted for in their report cards, and that the next time someone does not bring th e materials needed they would go to the principal’s office. This was not a noticeabl e problem at the HSES or MSES schools: the students had all kinds of supplies that they brought from home, and since they worked with their own textbooks (purchased by them) or additional academic material provided by the school, this was not an issue. A recurrent issue at all sc hools was that the students we re not getting their classwork or their homework done. The teacher at the MSES school handled the problem by lecturing: “to be the central character in your education, you need to learn how to work; there are people who will end up being secondary characters, but to be the primary character you need to always be ready to ge t to work.” In anothe r instance, the same teacher scolded a student for not doing his hom ework: he yelled in front of the whole class that the student’s life is not “so demanding” and that he should have his work done; this again, takes for granted the student’s so cial position. The teacher at the LSES schools approached the same issue by warning those w ho are not doing their work that if they keep up that attitude they will fail the class and will have to see her again next year when

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113 they repeat the sixth grade. The LSES school teacher also scolded a student who did not do his homework and his excuse was that he did not understand th e instructions; the teacher replied by saying “you do not have to be too smart to re-read them [the instructions].” In another instance, when se veral students did not do their homework, she asked them for their “communication notebooks ” and reported this attitude to the students’ parents. This partic ular teacher always tried to involve the parents in the student’s academic life, but she received little feedback fr om several of them. On the other hand, the teacher at the HSES school de alt with the homework issue by lecturing the whole class on responsibility. The issue of cheating in the classroom only arose at the LSES school in one instance when the students were taking a test in which they had to fill a blank map of Argentina with the names of its provinces. Since there was a map hanging in a wall of the classroom, some students were copying the names from it. When the teacher realized this was occurring, she said to the whole cla ss: “if you cheat, it will help you in the short run. But you guys need this knowledge.” Despite the good intentions when saying this advice, the phrasing of “you guys” and “need this knowledge” transmits the message that the students are a partic ular group in a disadvant aged position. A disciplinary concern that teachers had in all three schools was that the students were too talkative. While the teacher at th e LSES school would handle it by scolding and yelling at the whole class, the teachers at the MSES and HSES schools would pick on the “most disruptive” student and would take him/ her out of the classr oom for a couple of minutes. When I asked the teacher at the LSES why she approached the whole class, instead of the “sources” of the problem, she replied that “the stude nt who does not care

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114 about class and misbehaves, won’ t care if he/she is taken in to ‘time-out’.” The difference in strategy when dealing with “behavioral probl ems” is a reflection of the differences in teaching approach. While the lessons of the LSES teach often inculcated collectivistic values, she believed that “collective punishme nt” was an efficient generalized way of disciplining the students. On the other hand, the MSES and HSES school teachers often used a disciplining approach that reflected indi vidualistic values. In the last section of the chapter, I will present in de tail how each teacher’s pedagogy inculcated collective or individual values. Class participation was a matter that onl y the teachers at the MSES and HSES schools called to the students’ attention. Bo th teachers at these schools would “defend” those students who were inte rrupted by a peer. In addition, both teachers emphasized the importance of having everyone contributing to the class discussi on. For instance, the HSES teacher told the students: “I need a nd I want to hear from everyone in here.” A particular observation at the HSES and MS ES school was that the teachers tried to transmit a “moral” message when managing th e classroom. For instance, at the MSES school, while enforcing obedience, the teacher lectured that “everyone in the world is egocentric by nature; even if you have siblings. You guys need to overcome this egocentric stage and understa nd that you are not the center of the universe.” Based on this statement, we can observe that the MSES school teacher tried to promote solidarity by disregarding individualistic values. While the teachers at the HSES and MSES schools placed much emphasis on classroom participa tion and creating an environment in which all students interact with th e teacher, the LSES school teacher did not spend time dealing with this aspect. Although this teacher c onsidered classroom participation to be

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115 important, the way she defined classroom par ticipation differed from the way the teacher at the MSES and HSES defined it. To the LSES school teacher, a student who participated in class was one who was prep ared to work, read out loud, respond to the “factual” questions asked, and talk only when it was appropriate. Unlike the other teachers, she did not demand the participation from all students. Overall, the findings show that among th e three schools, there was a variation in time spent in classroom management and discipline. This difference arises from several factors, including that each teacher had diffe rent teaching methods and valued different aspects of classroom instruction. The MSES school teacher placed much importance on disciplining at the begging of the class; he also expected st udents to be active participants during the lessons. At the LSES school, the time spent on disciplining arose from the lack of resources of the school and the students : the teacher transmitted to the students to value the classroom materials; she also ha d to deal with several students who were unprepared for class. The strategy of disciplin ing the students at th e LSES school was to collectively lecture a ll students or to contact the stude nts’ parents. The HSES school teacher only lectured the students on discipline when certain issues arose, such as class participation or doing the homework. Ultimately, the time spent on classroom management and discipline had an impact on th e structure and pace of the class. As we will see in part four, the different demands of the teachers determined the role of the students in the classroom. 6.1.3. Curriculum and evaluations Another component of the classroom th at differed between each school was how the teachers applied the national curriculum a nd evaluated their stude nts. It has been

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116 previously explained that the city of Buenos Aires estab lishes a curricular design to which all of the primary public schools have to adhere. During the semi-structured interviews with the teachers from the LSES, MSES, and HS ES schools, I was able to gather their perspective of having an estab lished curriculum as well as their techniques when employing it. Even though the idea of having a homogeneous curriculum for all primary public schools might seem to denote eq uality in material covered and learning quality, several factors come into play whic h prevent all students at these schools from receiving the same education in terms of content and pace. The following data demonstrates how and why the curriculum is modified at each school and reflects an existing divergence in the academic experiences between schools. The teachers interviewed had an array of opinions on having an established curriculum for the whole city; these opinions reflect the way each teacher applied the curriculum in his/her class. For instance, wh en I asked one of the LSES school teachers about the curriculum, she res ponded: “I think having a genera l curriculum is something good, but I am also interested in something si mpler, such as having the student know in which country he lives in. I want him to have the basic knowledge of where he is standing.” This teacher, whose social scien ce classes I observed, ha d certain priorities on which topics needed to be covered in class—ev en if they were not part of the curriculum: “I believe there are certain lessons that ca nnot be ignored, just because they are not established on the curriculum. I need to be fl exible.” The standpoint of this teacher was clearly reflected during her cla sses; she spent a fair amount of time inculcating “the basic knowledge” of where the student “is standing,” even if it took time away from teaching the material established in the curriculum. As we will see in part two of this chapter, the

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117 teacher used this approach because a large portion of her students were from abroad; thus, she felt the need to socialize them into Argentinean society. Furthermore, she believed that in order to cover the topics that official curriculum established, the students need to know this “crucial” information. The other LSES school teacher expl ained that the established curriculum constrained her: “I see the established curr icular design as someth ing too idealistic; it contains an enormous amount of material. It would be grea t if one could cover all of them, but to me it does not seem realistic.” She was concerned about not being able to cover everything that the curriculum establis hed because the students were grades behind in certain subjects, which ma de the pace of the course mu ch slower than it should be; therefore, she had to prioritize which ma terial will be taught and which will not. Both teachers of the MSES school held similar opinions on the curriculum: they thought it was correct for the st ate to set certain guidelines on what is supposed to be taught in school. “I do not thi nk that the curriculum should be established by the parents or the institution itself. Ho wever, each school might refl ect its objectives through the curriculum; for instance, at this school we tend to be more political than in other institutions.” This notion of being a politic al institution was reflected in the classes observed and the instructional materials; some of the topics established in the curriculum were studied through a critical, political, point of view. The teachers from the HSES school also perceived the curriculum established by the government as something positive: “it w ould be very chaotic if every teacher, in every school, in every grade, and in every s ubject area decided what to teach.” However, one of the teachers explained that even t hough the topics are established, she gets to

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118 choose the approach and bibliography. Both t eachers expressed that they have complete freedom to take any teaching approach when implementi ng the curricular contents. Throughout several classroom observa tion and six interviews, I was able to identify how the curriculum is modified at each school and what affect this adjustment had on the overall learning experience of the students. The teacher at the LSES school, whose classes I observed and who was also in terviewed, explained th at her students lack some of the expected knowledge that childr en should have when they enter the sixth grade: “There are a lot of s ituations that they should have lived and have internalized. Sixth and seventh grade are the last two years of primary school, and from here there is no turning back.” According to this teacher, as the students passed from one grade to the next one some fell behind; by the time they get to the sixth grade, it is difficult to fill all of the gaps of missing knowledge accumulate d throughout the years. The teacher also indicated that it is difficult to start teachi ng sixth grade material if the students do not posses certain knowledge from the previous gr ades: “why would I requ ire the student to know something that he did not learn in the third grade?” As an example, she explained that some of her students know how to spell bu t cannot read and that “a kid who is in the sixth grade should know how to read.” She al so stated that by re viewing and practicing every class, she hopes to meliorate this situation. This same teacher, who is in charge of the social science and language arts classes, told me that she deals with the “f alling behind” of her st udents by reviewing at the beginning of every class the topics that they have been studying, “so that they stick:” “I try to start every class by repeating the pr evious lessons because it is the only way in which the student will become familiar with the material and internalize it.” She

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119 explained that several minutes that should be devoted to learning new material are used to review material that was taught that same year or materi al that students should have known from prior years. During the observations in the social studies classes, I was able to view this practice, in wh ich the teacher modified the official curriculum by spending less time on the material that is supposed to be covered and using it to re-teach, review, or teach material belonging to the curriculum of lower grade levels. When interviewing this teacher, I asked if she thought she was modifying the established curriculum and what implications this had; she responde d that having an established program put pressure on her, but that she needs to take into consideration the circumstances of her students and accept that she can not cover ev erything that the curriculum intends: “The students are not a container in which I can depos it material; I need to evaluate the time it takes them to process the materi al and what responses I get fr om them. This is why I need to be flexible with the curriculum and thankful ly that at this school the teachers have the freedom to be flexible.” The other LSES school teacher concurred with the concerns expressed by her colleague and explained that “there are a lot of topics in which the level has to be reduced to the level of the students.” According to this teacher, the curriculum has to be adjusted in terms of covering the material “from a lo wer level.” For instance, she indicated that they started studying geometry at a fourth gr ade level; in addition, some of the students did not know the times tables, so they had to st art from that level in order to learn more complex material. The concern this teacher had regarding the curriculum, was that she had to spend so much time teaching material that the students were supposed to have learnt already that she was not going to get to cove r all of the topics that the curriculum

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120 establishes: “I feel like I am falling behind with the materi al, and I do not know if I am going to make it on time by the end of the school year.” Modifying the curriculum to fit the n eeds of the students seemed like a common practice at the LSES school. The reason these teachers had to adap t the curriculum to their students was due to a discrepancy between what the curriculum expects the students to know when entering the sixth grade and the actual knowledge of the students. The need to spend time during class re-teaching, reviewing, and reinforcing earlier material causes the students to fall behind on what the curriculum expects a si xth grader to learn. Therefore, the students and teachers at the LSES school find themselves in a vicious cycle: the teacher cannot teach new material if the student is missing concepts from previous grades; thus, in the attempt to “catch up” with the material, they fall behind on what they are supposed to be learning as established by the curriculum. The LSES school was not the only one wh ere modifications of the established curriculum could be observed; the teachers at the MSES and HSES also implemented adjustments on the program, but these were much different than the modifications at the LSES school. Similarly to the teachers at the LSES school, the te achers from the MSES and HSES schools explained that they shape the curricula to fit the needs of their students. However, the fundamental difference is that, at these schools, the curriculum is adjusted based on the students’ expectations and the topics they are most engaged with; the students always work with “sixth grade topics” and cover everyt hing that is required. When I asked the teachers from these two school s what criteria they used to decide how much time they spend on each topic, they al l responded that it is based on the student’s attitudes and engagement with them.

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121 Another way in which the standard sixth gr ade curricular topics were modified at the HSES and MSES school was that the teacher s tried to incorporat e “current news” into the lessons and often changed the order on th e program to fit contemporary events. For instance, at the MSES school, the science te acher taught the topic of seismology earlier than established on the curriculum because of the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile: “the students were very eager and motivated to learn about this because of what has been happening in Chile.” Similarly, at the HSES school, the social science teacher indicated that she always try to “work with the emerging” and that she shapes the curricula “by what is happening in the world.” An additional factor to enhance and modify the established curricula at the MSES and HSES schools is the use of various texts a nd sources in class. A ccording to one of the HSES school teacher, “the bibliography that one uses for class also defines which contents are studied in deta il and which are not.” One of the MSES school teacher explained that the textbook is strategically designed by the publishing companies to cover the official national curriculum; however “the information provided is extremely basic, pure facts. This is why I c ontribute to the curriculum by complementing the book with other material, because everything has an e xplanation and a reason.” In this teacher’s social studies class, the st udents were using a literary magazine as a way to study critically the topics that the book was presenting. Simila rly in the HSES school, the science teacher explained that one of her duties is to “provide the students with material from different sources, not only with textbooks.” There is a clear distinction on how the cu rriculum is altere d at the MSES and HSES schools from the LSES school. Even t hough in all three school s the modifications

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122 of the curriculum take into account the needs of the students, there is a difference in what knowledge the students are considered to n eed: at the HSES and MSES schools, the curriculum is shaped to fulfill the need to provide different explanations and points of view on the established topics ; at the LSES school the curriculum has to be modified because the students cannot learn some of the t opics established in the curriculum if they do not possess the necessary prio r knowledge. The way the cu rriculum is altered at the HSES and MSES school serves to enhance th e learning experience of the students; in addition, none of the teachers at these school s expressed a concern fo r not covering all of the topics established by the curriculum. Th erefore, based on these modifications, the learning experiences that the st udents at the LSES school have differ immensely from the learning experiences of the students at the MSES and HSES schools. Despite the differences in which the curri culum is managed by the teachers, at all three schools the teachers evaluated the work of the students in the same manner: All of them said to take into account the process, instead of only the result. The grades of the student are not only based on their performan ce and final products, but also they are a summation of the learning processes; “the pr ocesses” included class participation, show of interest, discipline, and commitment to th e work. All teachers acknowledge that some students have more difficulties than others with the material and therefore “it would be unfair to only grade them by the results of their work.” This common approach in evaluating demonstrates that the teachers understand that results are not determinant factors of how much the students learned. Th eir evaluation method attempts to give the same opportunities to all students and to not discourage those who cannot make the grade or are not good test-t akers. The grading manner is ju st one aspect showing that, within the

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123 school, all students had the same opportunitie s: inside each institution, every student received the same instruction, had the same curriculum, the same teachers, the same classes, and was provided with the same res ources. The inequality in distribution of knowledge and educational e xperiences, however, is only found between schools—the modification of the curriculum is a primary example of this inequality. Throughout this first section, we have s een that the teachers have a relatively autonomous role in the classroom that sh apes the educational experience of their students. Among the three schools examined, the teachers varied in qualification and work experience. The difference in approaches and values of the teachers was reflected in how they managed the classroom and the discipline values they inculcated. Simultaneously, the teacher’s role and appro ach was shaped by the circumstances of the school and their students. Furthermore, this section shows that the relative autonomy of the teacher allows for the modification of the national curriculum, proving that having a nationally established curriculum does not overcome the hidden curriculum (this idea will be elaborated in part four of this chapte r). In the following sec tion, we will examine how the background of the students, and the st udents’ families, shapes their schooling trajectory. 6.2. PART II: Students and Parents The field work findings show that the social, economic, and cultural capital variations between the students at each sc hool have an impact on their educational experience. The cultural capital of the students partially determines the pace and content taught in the class. Furthermore, the cultural, social, and economic capital of the parents determines, in part, their involvement inside and outside of school. Parental involvement

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124 also shapes the pace of the course and the cu rriculum taught, as well as the resources that the school can obtain. Due to the structure of the school system, the students and families coming from disadvantage positions are fu rther disadvantaged in the school. 6.2.1. Diversity in classrooms According to the population census, the Argentinean populace is homogeneous in terms of race and nationality: ninety-five perc ent of the population consider themselves to be “white” (from European descent), nine ty-six percent of the people residing in Argentina were born there (INDEC, 2001a). In my sample, cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity existed only in the LSES institution. All of the students in the classrooms at the MSES and HSES were born and raised in Arge ntina; there were only two students at each of those schools whose parents were from other countries in Latin America. On the other hand, the LSES classroom was multicultural; ha lf of the students in the classroom were firstand second-generation immigrants from Paraguay, Bolivia, or Peru. The fact that diversity was only found at the school located in the low soci oeconomic district reveals the conditions in which immigrants in Argen tina live. In addition, the field work findings reveal that a diverse classroom is a factor that contribute s to a different learning and educational experience. According to Bourdie u, schools take the cult ural capital of the middle class and employ it as if all children have had equal access to it; thus, those who have the dominant group’s cultural capital pe rform better in schools because they already have the knowledge to succeed in the syst em. Through classroom observations and two interviews, I was able to detect that in comparison to the MSES and HSES schools, the LSES school gave greater emphasis to inculc ating Argentinean culture; prioritizing and

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125 overstressing teaching about nationality led to one-dimensional and passive teaching lessons. During the interview of the teacher whos e classes I observed at the LSES school, I asked her about the cultural heterogeneity of her students. She acknowledged that it is a “multicultural school” with several students coming from families from Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru. She also mentioned that having students from different cultural backgrounds hinders the pace of the class, beca use she often has to “explain the basics.” The teacher also emphasized that she is pr incipally interested in having her students know “where they live, in which continent, and having the basic knowledge about Argentina.” She said that this information is the most relevant for the students: “I could talk about immigration or globa lization, but they [the student s] still have to learn basic information that they should know since th e third grade.” The teacher’s inclination towards educating the students mainly about Argentina was reflected in the classroom. During one class, the students were complaining about having to work excessively with the map of Argentina, to which the teacher re plied: “We need to get to know our country in order to be able to appreciate it. We n eed to know how many provinces we have and what our population number is. How is it possible that we know more about foreign countries than ours? Yes, knowing about other countries contributes to a general culture, but we need to prioritize our country.” The tendency to inculcate nationalism was again very clear when the teacher corrected a student in front of the class by saying: “you need to write “Brasil” with an “s” because you ar e living in Argentina and not anywhere else in the world.” The attempt to reproduce a cu lture that numerous students do not identify with proved to encumber their overall learni ng experience. Instead of incorporating the

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126 cultural richness of the students into the cl ass, the classroom observations showed a disregard and lack of sensitivity to the background of the students. The teacher’s urgency to teach “basic knowledge about Argentina” conflicted with covering the official curriculum. Ma ny minutes, or even whole classes, were devoted to educating the students on informati on about Argentina that was not part of the sixth grade formal curriculum. One prime exampl e of this is when the students spent one class preparing a PowerPoint presentation on the development of the city and spent another class presenting this to the first grade students. The presentation consisted of pictures comparing colonial times with cu rrent times: it showed how people used to dress, how public transporta tion changed, etc. Some students were assigned to present one PowerPoint slide, while others were in the audience because there were more students than slides. The sixth grade student s were not engaged w ith the lesson, and the teacher ended up teaching the first grade students. This sort of activity puts the students further behind in comparison to the sixth graders in the MSES and HSES schools. After seeing this approach taken by the teacher during her classes, I asked her at the interview if having a multicultural classroom creates a richer environment. She responded by stating that “yes, it can only make it richer. Like I tell them [the students], ‘we have to learn about our di fferences and not make fun of them. Being from a different country does not make one better or worse.” She also pointed out that the students are very open-minded and that they integrate well with each other. During the classes, I also perceived the students to be respectful of their cultural backgrounds; however, I observed one instance in which a student called anot her “a Bolivian” in a derogatory way. The teacher’s answer shows that she is consci ous of her students’ backgrounds; it also

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127 demonstrates the collectivist ideals she im poses throughout her lessons as well as her constant attempt to create a classroom co mmunity. On the other hand, in terms of the curriculum, the diversity of the classroo m was not taken into consideration. The inculcation and reproduction of a specific culture was ep itomized by a poster hanging on the classroom wall: “All Argentineans have the same sky-blue and white dream, and we begin to make it a reality at school” (sky-blue and white are the colors of the Argentinean flag). When I interviewed the other sixth grad e teacher of the LSES school, she talked about the effects of having a culturally dive rse class. She acknowledged as well the array of nationalities and cultures among her stude nts and stated that this diversity was reflected in their academic performance. Th e topic of diversity arose when I asked her how she evaluated her students; she responded that she recently incorporated evaluating and grading their folders “because they work r eally hard in making them neat and perfect. Their hand writing is unbelievable.” I asked he r if their calligraphy is a product of an emphasis given in language arts classes, a nd her answer was: “no, they make sure everything looks neat but they don’t look at the content. They don’t think about what they are writing. They copy what is on the board and transcribe it multip le times until it looks perfect.” I proceeded by asking what could be the source of this practice, for which she replied that it is something instilled by th eir parents’: “The majority of the students’ parents are Paraguayan, Peruvi an, or Bolivian, and it seems that their cultures emphasize neatness.” Since school expectations are also culturally constructed, having a diverse classroom reflects these differences. The problem is that the curriculum is not designed with these factors in cons ideration, and it only promotes “Argentinean educational

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128 expectations.” However, even if the content of the class does not reflect diversity factors, it is worthy that the teacher acknowledges the va lues and hard work the students put into being neat as a way to “encourage them and help them raise they grades.” Despite the lack of cultural diversity in the MSES school, the teacher provided the students with a critical view on the topic. Du ring one class, the st udents had to read a section of the textbook on the demographics of the Argentinean population; the text portrayed the country to be very welcom ing to immigrants. The teacher took the opportunity to refute the myth that “Argentin a is a very generous country” and “that it accepts people from all races and places.” He stated that Argentineans have negative stereotypes towards people of all nationa lities and races, and “then we are very hypocritical when they look down at other coun tries for being racist.” The teacher makes the students reflect on tolerance and tells them that “skin color, height, or appearance does not make us better or wors e. What define us are our acti ons.” One of the two girls in the class whose family is not from Argentina shared the discriminatory experiences that her father had to go through when he emigra ted from Bolivia. This lesson exemplifies another instance in which the teacher complements and modifies the given curriculum to fit the reality of the students. However, at the MSES sc hool, the situation was not forced upon the teacher; he could have easily conti nued inculcating the idea that “Argentina is a generous country.” At the LSES school, even if the teachers acknowledged the cultural diversity of their students, the Argentinean cu lture was not indoctrinated with a critical view; the teacher spoke about tolerance in the classroom but never about intolerance outside of it. This is only one example of several in stances in which students had a more active

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129 and critical role in their l earning at the MSES and HSES sc hools, while students at the LSES were taught in a more structured and passive manner. In addition, the time that the students at the LSES school de voted to divert from the o fficial curriculum and learn about “essential” information about Argentina puts them behind the material that other sixth graders are learning. Supporting Bourdieu’s idea, th e findings show that the students at the LSES school we re at a disadvantage because they did not inherit or already have the “basic” Argentinean cu ltural background. Following, we will observe how the cultural capital of the parents, as well as their social and economic capital, also determines what goes on inside the classroom. 6.2.2. Parental involvement and the “cooperadora” A determining factor in the academic experi ences of the students at the examined schools has been the level of pare ntal participation at the institutions; this was reflected in two aspects: participation in the school’s administration and participation in the academic life of their daughter/so n. All public primary schools in Buen os Aires are likely to have a cooperadora an association run by the parents w hose purpose is to assist the school financially. The cooperadora tends to collect money from the students and other external sources in order to complement the funds gi ven by the local and national government. A strong cooperadora is clearly reflected in the resour ces and equipment owned, as well as in the conditions of the schools’ buildings. In addition, the involvement of parents in the academic journey of their specific children also modifies the students’ academic experience. All teachers interviewed expresse d the benefits of working with parents who participate and are active in their child’s educ ation. All of the data on parent involvement has been mainly collected from in-depth interviews with teachers.

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130 The levels of parental involvement ha ve been very similar for the HSES and MSES schools. All teachers in terviewed at these institut ions concur that parent participation varies, but that there are so me very engaged and helpful parents. The teachers also agreed that all parents are easy to reach and are willi ng to meet with them whenever it is necessary. In addition, most parents at these institutions regularly attend general classroom meetings a nd special events at the schoo l. According to another teacher from the MSES school, the active pa rticipation of parents in their child’s education is highly reflected in the work of the student: “it is good for parents to be aware of their child’s performance and needs, so that they can assist them and us.” Additionally, a teacher from the HSES school affirmed that “parental involvement helps the student stay on track.” Aside from the participation of parent s in their own child’s education, some parents devote their time to assist the school in general. One teacher from the HSES school stated: “At a public school located in a popular site, such as this one, the parents of the students possess plenty of education and information; they know how the system works and what procedures are to carry ou t; they know how to request resources and make changes at the school. Also several pare nts at this institution have the time to do this.” Through the involvement in the cooperadora, parents have the possibility of putting their resources and knowledge of th e system to strengthen the school’s educational program. All teachers interviewe d from the HSES and MSES schools agreed that the cooperadora is a significant contri butor in providing res ources and materials for the school. One of the teachers from the MSES school acknowledged that “in general, not all parents have the time or en ergy to be in charge of the cooperadora; however, it is

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131 important that there are a handful of involved parents, because they end up being the ones who are always on top of things, making sure we have everything we need.” On a similar note, a teacher from the HSES school recognized that the parents in the cooperadora “know all the details of what resources are lacking and they raise money to obtain them.” On the other hand, the other teacher inte rviewed from the HSES school expressed the drawbacks of having excessive involvement of parents; she said th at they “tend to act like they are in charge of the school.” This “excessive” authority given to parents was evident at the HSES school when a woman inte rrupted the social studies class, which I was observing, to collect money for the cooperadora. The funds obtained by the cooperadora usually come from these monthly colle ctions from the stude nts, as well as from the profits made at the kiosks in th e schools. There is no fixed amount that the students have to contribute; however, at the MSES and HSES schools observed, the students paid from 8 to 15 pesos (2 to 3.75 dollars) per month depending on their financial circumstances. In addition, according to one of the HSES school teachers, some of the parents in the cooperadora had the knowledge and resources to apply for external funds or grants. There are no regulations on how funds of the cooperadora have to be spent; however, at the MSES and HSES schools, the cooperadora was paying for whatever the school could not afford in term s of supplies and materi als. In addition, it was the cooperadora’s duty to assist those students who lived in precarious situations. One of the MSES school teacher explained: “if a student has diffi culties purchasing the text book or other clas sroom material, the cooperadora tries to take care of it.” The level of parental involvement at the LSES was drastically lower than at the MSES and HSES institutions. The lower partic ipation at the school has to do with several

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132 factors, mostly pertaining to the social realities of the majority of these families– such as poor living and working conditions. For instan ce, when I asked one of the teachers how accessible the parents are, she responded that “if you schedule them for a particular day or time, they might not come because they n eed to ask permission at work.” The other teacher from this LSES school explained that when she holds general meetings for all parents, out of twenty-f ive students, the parents of four or five of those would come. Both teachers acknowledged that they have never met the parents of several of their students and that “the parents of problematic student s tend to be absent… because they work or they simply don’t come.” The lack of time and th e need to work is not the only factor that hinders the parents from partic ipating in their child’s educ ation—most parents belonging to the MSES and HSES schools also work. Ho wever, the majority of the LSES school parents were not educated and informed about how they can be involved in the management of the institution and how the Ar gentinean educational sy stem is structured; this occurs because the parents do not have the cultural and social capital necessary to navigate through the system—either because they are foreigners, because they do not have the networks, or both. Al so, according to one of the interviewees, the fact that some of the parents never received an education ma kes them believe that they cannot help their children in school. The lack of parental invol vement is recognized by both teachers to be something negative. For inst ance, one of the teachers, who simultaneously works at another school located in an MS ES district, described the othe r institution to be an “elite school” because “over there all the parents wo rk, they are concerne d, they are involved, they will come to the school to ask questions.”

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133 The lack of parental participation no t only affected the academic experience of their own daughter/son, but also the school in general. The cooperadora at the LSES school was perceived by the teachers to be “fairly active”; there were a few parents involved, and most of the funds came from c ontributions from the students. However, given the weak financial situa tion of most students, they co uld only contribute two pesos per month and inevitably some students could not help at all. The funds gathered by the cooperadora at this school were used to subsidize an arra y of items, such as painting the walls, installing fans, or purch asing window shades. Accordi ng to one of the teachers, “the school’s building is falling into pieces, and the cooperadora helps sustain it.” Whenever there were left over funds from the building repairs, some money went to purchasing classroom material. The LSES sc hool not only was at a disadvantage because fewer parents were involved in the admini stration, and there were fewer financial resources available from the cooperadora ; in addition, the cooperadora faced having to spend money on basic items that th e other schools already had. The differences in resources and academic experiences that arise from distinct levels of parental participation clearly dem onstrate a reproduction of social class. For instance, the parents at the LSES school who do not get involved in their child’s education because they feel inhibited due to their lack of educati on, end up causing their own children to be in a position of disadvant age in which the student receives a much poorer education than others. The students w hose parents are uniformed about how they can get involved and cooperate with the school lack resources that w ould enable them to have a richer learning experience. The student s at the LSES school are the ones who need the most financial assistance in purchasing classroom material; instead, the funds from

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134 the cooperadora are limited and have to be used on emergency expenditures that the other schools did not have—such as fixing the decaying roof. Also, the fact that a strong cooperadora requires the involvement of parents who “know the system” and “are informed” puts those who are from diverse na tionalities and cultures at a disadvantage. Again, the schools’ organizational structure does not consider this ethnic diversity. Another social class reproduction pattern se en by the different levels of parental involvement is that those parents who ar e in a comfortable ec onomic position which allows them to devote their time to participate at the school, contribute to their children to receiving significant more support in their e ducation. The next section examines how the differences in parental involvement outside school, which are caused by differences in resources and cultural capital of the fam ilies in each school, impact the education experience of their children. 6.2.3. Parental involvement outside school According to the teachers in terviewed, parental involveme nt inside the schools is as critical in the child’s e ducation as their involvement outside school. The parent not only serves as a role model, but the academ ic success of the students often depends on the parents’ collaboration in their education. The lack of involvemen t of parents outside the school was an emerging problem solely at the LSES school; the teachers at this school attributed it as a principal problem in the lack of motivation and discipline in doing homework. Both teachers at the LSES school explai ned that one common “obstacle,” which causes the pace of the class to be slower, is that the majority of the students rarely complete the homework assignments. This “obs tacle” also affects how class time is spent

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135 and how much practice the students get on each topic. One of the LSES school teachers states that generally the reason why most students do not complete their homework assignments “is not because they are not capable of doing it but because they lack willpower.” She explained that in order to get the students to do so me work outside class one has to be constantly “nagging and remaini ng them” about it. “The problem is that the student goes home, puts away his school b ackpack and does not open it until the next school day. This is where the lack of family support comes into play… if the family does not contribute, participate, and does what th ey are supposed to do, the kids will not get their things done.” The other LSES school t eacher also blamed the homework issue on the lack of parental assist ance: “They do not do the homework because they don’t have a person who will sit next to them and ask them: ‘what do you need to do for school?’” This teacher also agreed that the students ar e capable of getting the work done if they put some effort in it, “but it is an impediment when the family does not cooperate.” The LSES school was not the only in stitution which had to deal with the homework issue; however, at the MSES and HSES schools, the magnitude of the problem was less serious and, therefore, it had a lower impact on the pace of the courses. None of the teachers from the MSES and HSES schools attributed the homework issue to a lack of family support or cooperation; in fact, the students’ families were not even mentioned when talking about this matter. One of the HSES school teachers explained that the students lacked the habit and disc ipline of doing homework, but that they were being successfully taught about this practice. None of the in terviewees believed that the students did not do their homework because th ey did not possess the knowledge to do it;

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136 the majority simply attributed the behavior to “laziness” and so mething that over time “they will get used to do.” To understand why the LSES school teachers attributed the homework issue to be directly correlated to a lack of parental involvement, one has to comprehend the reasons for which the parents did not participate in their child’s education. I asked one of the LSES school teachers, who also works at an MSES school, how the parents from the LSES institution differed from the MSES. She indicated that the fundamental difference is that at the LSES school a large portion of the families were illiterate: “The parents cannot write a note to each other, or they do not sit down with their children and try to help them. There is a lot communication th rough physical violence. The students from this school are exposed to a different realit y, in which their parents never read them a bedtime story or helped them with some homework.” Both LSES school teachers concurred that part of the reason that the fam ily did not help the student was because they lacked education and therefore felt that th ey had nothing to offer or contribute. In addition, one of the teachers also perceived that the reason behind the minimal parental involvement was that the parent s did not care to be involved with the child’ s education: “A lot of my student struggle learning the numeral system, and they do not receive help at home because the parents never learned it or they are not interested in helping.” Parental involvement outside school proved to be as significant in their child’s educational experience as th eir participation at the school. The lack of parent participation outside the school was a sali ent issue emerging only at the LSES school, placing students in a disadva ntaged position. The reasons for the lack of involvement include the large portion of the families from the LSES school who received few years of

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137 education or are illiterate. The impact that the lack of parental participation had on the student rested in the little amount of time dedicated to homework, and hence a slower pace of the class and a weaker understanding of the material. This also explains the LSES school teachers’ inability to cover the enti re established curriculum. Evidently, the difference in parental involvement results in the reproduction of social class. The children from low SES receive a more superficial a nd incomplete education in comparison with students from other socioeconomic status school s. It is unrealistic to expect parents who never received an education to inculcate sc hool discipline and studying habits on their children. Since their families do not have the relevant knowledge capital or information about the importance of part icipating in their children ’ education, the educational experience of the LSES school students is again affected and shaped by their social position. Throughout this section, we can observe that the structure of the Argentinean educational system benefits the dominant soci al groups: the structur e of the curriculum assumes that all students possess the same cultu ral forms. Meanwhile, the structure of the school administration, which expe cts parents to be involved inside and outside the school, assumes that parents have the cultural, soci al, and economic capital to fulfill that active role. The students and parents of the LSES school found themselves in a disadvantaged position, because they did not have the “comm on” knowledge, resources, or values to effectively work in the school system. The LSES school stud ents’ cultu ral capital impacted the pace of the class and the knowle dge taught. In addition, the parents of the LSES school did not have the necessary tools to be involved in their children’s education; thus, this shaped the resources and the pace of the class because the teachers and the

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138 structure of school expected th em to participate. The follo wing part will examine how the students’ material resources outside of school, as well as inside, determines their experiences in school. 6.3. PART III: Resources The educational resources owned by the schoo l, as well as the resources that the students have in their homes, impacts their le arning experience. In th is section we will see that the MSES and HSES schools have more resources than the LSES; thus, providing students with a rich er and enhanced classroom learning. Furthermore, the results also show that the resources that th e students possess in their homes also modify the curriculum; the students with higher economic capital are familiar with the technology used at the school, such as comput ers; this allows them to engage more efficiently in assignments that use these tools. 6.3.1. Materials used in class The learning experience of the student is in part shaped by materials used in class, such as books, academic journals, movies, a nd other educational tools. The quantity of materials used is not directly correlated to the quality of the education; however, the use and variation of educational material does ma ke a lesson richer in content. Through the social science class observa tions at the LSES, MSES, and HSES schools, I was able to notice a significant difference in the amount and quality of ma terials used during class. One of the most critical differences in te rms of materials and resources was that at the LSES school the students did not have a textbook for social studies while at the other two schools they did. The LSES school teacher explained that since the students cannot afford to purchase multiple textbooks, every school year the students are in charge of

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139 purchasing only one textbook for one of the co re subjects (socia l sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, or language arts). Th is year, the students ha d to get the textbook for the natural science course, and even so, several of them acquired photocopies of the original book. When I asked the social sc ience teacher of the LSES school how she managed to teach without having a textbook, she responded that she chose a textbook and provides photocopies of it to the students: “T he students have to pay very little for the photocopies, and if they cannot afford it, I pa y for them from my own pocket. The most important thing for me is that every one has th eir own class material, so that they can all follow the readings.” The teacher photocopied the most important pages of the book and created units divided by topics ; she also offered the students the opportunity to purchase a photocopy of the whole book—some of them acq uired it. The teacher was extremely understanding and conscious of the social background of her st udents: “it is not easy for them [the students] to spend two hundred pesos on books every year. This financial impediment makes you feel the difference of wo rking at this distri ct rather than at another.” Regardless of the obstacles, both LSES school teachers cared deeply about the students having some course materials: “I do not care what it takes, some way or another we [the teachers] manage to provide the students with some material.” In contrast to the textbook situation at the LSES school, the st udents of the HSES and MSES schools owned four textbooks, one fo r each of the core subjects. One of the HSES school teachers expresse d her opinion on the matter: “At this school, we have the benefit of counting on numerous resources; firs t and foremost, it is a privilege that the parents of the students can afford to purch ase the text books.” On a similar note, the MSES school teacher talked about the benefits of using a textbook: “I think it is useful to

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140 use textbooks in the two classes I teach [soc ial studies and language arts], because it allows the students to become familiar with th e use of textbooks; they learn how to read a table of contents, how to identify importan t information, etc.” Despite counting on this material, both social studies teachers at the MSES and HSES schools perceived the textbook to be an “incomplete source,” only us eful as a guide. According to the HSES school social science teacher, the book serves as an informational tool, since “it is written with a very neutral standing and it just presents facts.” Gi ven the notion the teachers at the MSES and HSES school held about the te xtbooks, they used external sources to complement the topics covered in the textbook. During the classroom observation at the MSES and HSES schools, I was able to see which additional materials were used along with the social science textbook. The MSES school teacher try to use sources that had some political inclinations or presented arguments in a critical manner. For instance, when the teacher de voted three weeks to teach about the last military regime in Argentina, he provided the students with multiple academic journals and newspaper articles. One of the articles on the coup d’tat not only covered dates and events, but denounced the corruption and crimes of the military. When interviewing this same teacher, he sh ared that at that moment the class was “working with different articles from the literary magazine Caras y Caretas ; we are reading, analyzing, and trying to connect them to what we are studying in class.” During one class, in which the students were learning about the Falklands War, the teacher handed around another magazine and announced: “maybe if your parents belong to a different union they might not agree with some of the standings presented here, but I think it is a valuable piece of information to complement what you have been studying.”

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141 The following class the teacher kept working on the same topic and provided the students with another academic journal titled Efemrides The social studies class at the HSES school, similarly to the MSES school, used various academic journals in order to “provide the students with di fferent ways of thinking a nd understanding” (personal interview). In addition, the teacher often brought in current newspaper articles that were related to what they were studying. At all three schools, the social science t eachers used documentaries as part of the class materials. At the HSES school, th e students watched a documentary on the Falklands War. At the MSES school, the st udents viewed a documentary on the people that were abducted and “disappeared” by the m ilitary during the dictatorship; it showed how people were abducted and included testimonies from the victims’ families. At the LSES school, sixth and seventh grade stude nts went to the library to watch a documentary about the Argentinean declar ation of independence. One significant difference among the schools was in how this tool was employed. At the MSES and HSES schools, after the movie finished, the t eacher initiated a discussion and encouraged the students to analyze it. At the LSES school, the teacher summarized the documentary once it was over and it was not brought up in class again. The differences in quantity and quality of materials used in classes appear to be caused by two factors: access to resources and teachers’ preferences. The lack of access to various educational resources constrains th e learning experience of the students. At the LSES school, both the institution and its stude nts are financially limited and do not have access to many materials; thus, this is another form in which social class is reproduced at schools. For instance, not having a textbook ha s several negative repercussions on the

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142 education of the LSES school student. The textbook provides a structure for the course; using scattered photocopies gives the student s a different perception about the class. Without a textbook, the students only read about the topics and the pages that the teacher considered to be important; they do not get to analyze what is relevant and what is not because it is all given. This also demonstr ates how part of the use of educational materials in class depend on what the teach er thinks is necessary or relevant. For instance, both social studies teachers at th e MSES and HSES schools considered the use of multiple sources as important, and either through the school’s resources or their own, they would provide the class with a variety of educationa l material. In addition, the teacher also plays a decisive role in matters of content. For instance, the teachers at the MSES and HSES schools preferred to offer thei r students material that reflected critical political ideologies. Overall, the variation among the materials us ed in class in each school resulted in different educational experiences for their stude nts: differences in th e amount of material covered and information taught, in exposure to different sources and points of view, and in the manner in which topics are approached. Following, we will see how the differences in the general resources of the school vary by the socioeconomic status of its students and how this affects the learning experience. 6.3.2. School resources One striking disparity between the LSES, MSES, and HSES schools was the quantity and quality of resources available for the students; this included differences in the conditions of the buildings, space, tool s, and commodities. The resources owned by the school proved to shape the educational expe rience of the students in terms of content

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143 and activities carried out during class. In th is section, I will present what each school offered their students and how these differences resulted in an academic disadvantage for the students who attended th e most modest school. The building of the LSES school was accura tely described by the science teacher as “falling into pieces.” Since the en vironment was not learning-friendly, the cooperadora had to constantly use its funds to ma ke repairs of the building. The other teacher explained that space and capacity was a problem at the school: “the classrooms are too full and the students are very cramped; you can see that there is no room for me to walk by their desks.” During the classroom observations, I noticed that whenever students had to go to the library, there were not enough chairs for the whole class, and some had to sit on the floor. The library was the only place in the school where there was a TV, so it was not frequently available and it was too small for multiple classes to use at the same time. Similarly, when the students spent one class working in the computer lab, the space was extremely limited, and the students had to sh are one computer among four people. The classroom, aside from being narrow, was very cold: often times, the students (and me) would sit in class w ith our winter coats on. The rooms had no heating or air conditioning. While the social science teacher was concerned that the school did not have an auditorium for patriotic plays, the sc ience teacher explained that her class is disadvantaged by the lack of a science la b: “I can not do anyt hing without a lab. I remember once I brought a chemistry game that my sister had and I used some flasks and test tubes from there, but it not efficient. Since there is no lab or equipment for the students, a lot of class time is wasted b ecause they can only see me do experiments and they do not get to enjoy them.”

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144 The MSES school was established in a la rge and antique build ing; its structure was well preserved and the walls were r ecently painted. The school had constant maintenance: during recesses, there were al ways employees cleaning the classrooms and patios. Inside the building, th e students had access to a bookstore and kiosk. The school had a “technology lab” which had a projecto r and enough computers fo r all the students; the science teacher stated that earlier in the year he used this space to show the students YouTube videos on the earthquake that stru ck Chile and afterwards had the students prepare a PowerPoint presentation on the topic. “We have the necessary tools to keep the students engaged and interested in the lessons.” The social science teacher also indicated that the school’s resources allowed him to carry on whichever lesson he wanted: “if I did not assign an activity it was because I did not want to do it, not because of a lack of resources.” The school also had a biology lab and a physics/chemistry lab; according to the science teacher, “the use of these spaces [the laboratories] is very democratic,” and he uses it as much as he needs to. The student s also had access to a library and a reading corner, furnished with sofas and bean-bag chairs. The classrooms themselves were large but not luxurious; however, they had all the resources necessary fo r the students to be comfortable. The HSES school was the largest of the th ree in terms of the number of students and the size of the building. It wa s located in a central area an d established in a historical building which was preserved in good conditi on. Inside the school, there was a bookstore, a kiosk, and a cafeteria. The cl assrooms were spacious: ther e were enough desks for all the students, one chalkboard, and one dry-eras e board. According to the science teacher, the school had a well-equipped lab, which had “microscopes, flasks, and other brand new

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145 tools.” The students would often go to the la b during science class and do experiments. During the social science class observation, I also saw how the school’s prestige and recognition advantaged it in terms of res ources. The students had the opportunity to attend the Buenos Aires City Council where they were to present a construction/refurbishing project for the school’s building and compete with other schools from the same district Two social science classe s were spent working on the proposals, watching tapes of the legislative pr ocess, and practicing out loud how to speak to the authorities; the teachers pretended to be the legislator s and they asked questions the students questions. The students demanded “t he right to play in a decent place” and petitioned that the school’s patio be roofed. According to one st udent, “it is urgent to roof the patio because we cannot go out when it is ra ining”; the teacher adde d that “the school is so big, that it does not get any shade from the buildings or trees.” After comparing the resources each school possessed, the disproportion in distribution is clear. The LSES school fa iled to provide a comfortable learning environment for its students, and their academic experience was disadvantaged by the lack of resources. The most definite example is the absence of a science lab, so that the students did not experience ha nds-on learning. Similarly, the LSES school’s computer lab did not have enough resources to give each student the possibility of becoming familiar with them; one has to take into considerat ion that the LSES students needed the most practice because, in contrast to the MSES a nd HSES students, the majority of them did not have computers in the homes (this will be expanded in the following section). Evidently, the resources of the school have a strong impact on the learning experience of the students. Once again, it is found that th e education of the students in the lower

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146 socioeconomic class is weaker than the rest. The project carried on at the HSES sc hool, in which the students petitioned an “urgent” refurbishment of the building, also reflects the inequality among schools. The contrast of what is “urgent” at the HS ES and LSES schools shows the difference in resources. While the students at the HSES school demanded that the patio be roofed because they had “the right to play in a d ecent place,” the students at the LSES school did not have the slight chance to demand their ri ght to learn in a decent place. Also, the fact that the HSES school students had the opportuni ty to participate in activities that teach them how government works, how to make demands of their legislators, and how to develop their critical and analytical thinking, puts them at an advantage; they become exposed to this environment, and they are taught to get their voices heard and demand changes. On the other hand, the observations also showed that there ar e certain aspects in all of the public schools that do not run smoothly, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the students. For instance, none of the sc hools had substitute teachers available, unless the teacher announces his/her ab sence with weeks in advan ce. While I was observing the classroom at the HSES school, the teacher got ill, and for one week, the students did not have a social science class; other faculty or administrators covered her shifts but did not work on social studies material This occurred as well in at the LSES and MSES schools, when the teachers missed class or had to leav e early. Another example is that none of the schools had an administration that was effici ent. For example, one of the HSES school teachers complained that the plumbing of the school had to be fixed and “instead of doing it during the summer vacations, they did it duri ng the school year.” One time, during the

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147 observations at the MSES school, the classr oom was flooded because “there has been broken pipe for a long time and when it ra ins, the water gets into the class.” The infrastructure of the schools, the conditions of their buildings, and their education resources proved to have an imp act on the learning experience of the students. Unlike the MSES and HSES schools, th e LSES school, which had the most disadvantaged students, did not have the re sources to provide di fferent educational activities. Furthermore, the bui lding of this school was in de plorable conditions; this also affects the environment that is created in the classroom. 6.3.3. Reflections of students’ econo mic capital in the curriculum Aside from demonstrating how the disparity in school resources and material used in class affected the studen t’s education, the field work also manifested how the commodities the students possessed affected their school experience. The socioeconomic background of the students is first and foremost critical because it mainly defines what educational institution they attend. However, it was evident during the interviews and classroom observations that the difference in economic capital of the students among the LSES, MSES, and HSES schools affected what they learn and what they do during class. During the interviews, I asked all six teacher s if the socioeconomic background of their students had an impact on the pace or activitie s carried out in class. The HSES and MSES school teachers stated that their students co me from a solid middle class background, in which they did not have surplus of resour ces, but also did not lack them. At both institutions, the teachers indicated that the parents of the students were mostly “professionals, teachers, or bus iness people” that overall had a stable financ ial situation. None of the HSES or MSES school teacher s thought that the socioeconomic background

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148 of the students shaped what they learned or ca rried out in class. According to one of the MSES school teachers, he always worked w ith all the teaching materials he needed “because either the students purchased it or the cooperadora of the school did.” On the other hand, the LSES school teachers were the only ones who acknowledged that the students’ precarious living condi tions negatively affected the educational experience. One of the principal issues that the LS ES school faced was that over the years the number of students enrolled has been decrea sing. According to the te acher, this occurred because “multiple kids who attended the schoo l squatted in buildings near by; however, the last couple of years their families were displaced and the majority of those students were gone.” As a follow-up question, I asked if a lot of students in her class “were lost” do to this; she replied: “that is not the cas e at this point. For in stance, some of the students of my class live in hotels nearby, and when the rent goes up, they are forced to move somewhere further; nonetheless, they are old enough to take a bus and come to school by themselves.” Overall, however, the students’ unstable living condition impacted their overall education. In addition, the students’ acce ss (or lack of access) to re sources outside the school modified their learning experiences. Fo r instance, the two LSES school teachers indicated that the socioeconomic status of the students did not permit them to assign work that required the use of com puters and internet outside sc hool. Also, the social science and language arts teacher stated that she had to limit the nu mber of books or materials she requested her students to purchase, “because they are very expensive and they have things to buy for other courses too.” It was previously mentione d in this chapter that since

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149 the LSES school teachers were conscious of the precarious conditions in which their students lived, they did not a ssign textbooks for three of the four core courses. According to the math and science teacher of the LSES school, “Among the portion of students that live in the villa (shanty town), there are some parents who are more committed than others with the educati on of their children: some allow and assist the students to access the internet, and othe rs do not.” Even though the majority of the students did not have access to technological tools, some went to “cyber cafes” to go on the internet; nevertheless, the limited acce ss to computers was reflected in their education. For instance, one of the social sc ience classes which I observed was dedicated to do online research for a school project on th e Colonial Period in Argentina. Given that the students did not have much experience using computers and doing research online, the teacher had to constantly supervise wh at the students were doing. She had to teach them how to do online research and which “k ey words” they should use for it. It was clear that the students were not comfortable using the co mputer, because instead of following the teacher’s instruction to “c opy and paste” their findings in the word processor, they would write them on a pi ece of paper; the teac her had to emphasize several times that the students should only work with the comput er because the whole project will be done electronically. This specific occurrence at the LSES school was contrasted during a classroom observation at the MSES school, in which th e students had to make a PowerPoint presentation on the last Argentinean military dictatorship; the project was started during classroom time and continued outside of cla ss. According to the MSES school teacher, “the presentations satisfied, and even exceed ed” his expectations. Clearly, the students

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150 were familiar with the use of the computer, its software, and the internet. In addition, this was also evident at the HSES school: accordi ng to the teacher, her students preferred to do research or homework assignments online “because they can access the internet in their homes.” The socioeconomic status of a student ultimately defines which educational institution s/he attends. The re sults of my study have shown that even if the schools are “public,” depending on their location, they pr ovide the students with different tools and academic experiences. However, this section on resources proves that the socioeconomic background of the student not only establishes which school s/he attends, but also what activities they do in class and what they learn. The low economical capital and unstable living conditions of the students at the LS ES school obstructed them from completing assignments that required technological to ols outside school. The limited access to the internet further shows that the students are exposed to a narrow amount of information and material; for the social studies course, they only learn about a topic from class lectures or from photocopies of some te xtbook pages. In addition, during class, the assignments involving research take longer than they generally would because the students are not familiar with the tools. Eventually, this puts the students at a disadvantage because the time that could be sp ent in covering the curriculum is used on something that they are expected to know. In contrast, the students at the MSES and HSES school had the resources at home to engage in activities and assignments that required technological tools. Furthermore, the MSES and HSES schools had more material resources than the LSES, which al low them to provide the students with a variety of educational material a nd hands-on learning experiences.

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1516.4. PART IV: Content In this section, I examine how the diffe rences observed between schools in terms of resources, parental involvement, students’ cultural capital, teachers’ qualifications, teaching approaches, and instruction contri bute to the unequal distribution or knowledge and the formation of a hidden curriculum. I analyze how in each school the national curriculum is adapted into an in-use-curriculum, which contai ns a hidden curriculum that produces knowledge that serves to reinforce and legitimize the social positions of the students; I look at the specifi c norms and values that are inculcated through the hidden curriculum. Furthermore, I analyze the content of the textbooks used in class (or in the case of the LSES school, the pho tocopies of the textbook), in order to prove that the inequality in the distribution of knowledge arise from the differences previously mentioned. 6.4.1. Inequality in the distribution of know ledge: The lived curriculum and active learning versus passive learning Earlier in the chapter it wa s established that, at each school of my sample, the formal curriculum was modified by the stud ent’s needs and the teachers’ didactical approach; this adjustment of the official curriculum is known as the construction of a lived curriculum. The difference in the liv ed curriculums among the LSES, MSES, and HSES schools led to disparities in the di stribution of knowledge and allowed for the formation of hidden curriculums; however, another contributing factor to this inequality in the distribution of knowledge was the use of different teaching approaches. During the classroom observations, I found a significan t distinction in the teaching methods and learning activities exercised in the classroom throughout the three schools. This section

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152 encompasses the different ways in which the courses were taught, as well as the differences in content of the lessons. At the LSES school, the social studies course can be re ferred to as a “passive class” due to the manner in which it was structured and taught. Passive classes are characterized by long lectures consisting of “facts” and “textbook information.” The students’ role, as a passive le arner, is to absorb the info rmation by paying attention and taking notes; they are not frequently as ked nor encouraged to ask questions, and assignments are based on factual and tec hnical information. For instance, during one class, the students read a passage on the American continent and were assigned five questions whose answers could be found in th e text; such as: “Which oceans border the American continent? “How many countries form the Amer ican continent?” Following this assignment, the teacher e xplained: “culturally Latin Amer ica is very different from North America. The countries on the north are wealthier and therefore are different economically, politically, socially, and cultu rally.” The teacher did not expand on “why” the countries were wealthier, nor ask the students their opinion on how the regions differed. The students were not challenged to think beyond the material presented in class, and all the material was presented as factual and objective. During this and the other lessons observed, I found th at the lectures would reiter ate the information given in the textbook passages, while also emphasi zing “facts” about Argentina and imposing nationalistic values; however, the lectures w ould never encourage th e students to use critical thinking to examine the topics studied. This teaching approach was also observed when the students watched a documenta ry on the Argentinean declaration of

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153 independence: after the film, the class continued with the teacher’s summary on what was just seen; she did not present any additional information, discussion, or questions. I observed the “passive learning” appro ach throughout various lessons and classes at the LSES school. For instance, at the la st class observed, the students were learning about natural resources and environmental problems. Again, the lesson was based on the photocopies the students had of the textbook pages on this topic. The teacher assigned some students to read the chap ter out loud, then she lectured on what had just been read, and finalized the lesson with questions on th e material; the answers were in the text. However, even though the class was structured on delivering the information presented in the textbook, some topics gave rise to the indoctrination of values, norms, and ideals. Through remarks and comments, the teacher inculcated values and norms about caring for the environment and being a good citizen (t his will been explained in detail in the following subsection). Also, the teacher’s preference to educate the students about “where they are standing” was also reflected in this lesson; for instance, even if the textbook established that environmental problem s were a global issue, the focus of the lecture was on Argentina. Another aspect of the class that only the teacher of the LSES school considered to be important was organization. At the end of every class, she would list on the board what they did during class and had the student s write it down in their folders. This is another characteristic of a pa ssive class: the curriculum of the course is followed meticulously, forcing the class in one direction, regardless of the students’ feedback or external circumstances. This approach is most likely employed because the teacher perceived her students to be behind and her pr iority was to fill those gaps by teaching the

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154 “basic information about the country they [the students] are living in” (personal interview). The teacher explained that there was certain information the students had to learn, and that she was going to teach it even if it is not on the offi cial curriculum. Thus, the strict organization of the class is a result of the urgency to teach “basic” and “crucial” material, and the need to cons tantly review all th e information taught so that the student “becomes familiar with the material and internalizes it” (personal interview). In contrast to the LSES school, the soci al studies classes obs erved at the MSES and HSES school were mostly “active clas ses.” Active classes are characterized by interactive learning, in which the student is challenged by the teacher and the subject studied. The teacher tends to engage the students in the lessons by asking questions— often critical thinking questi ons. The students are given sp ace to ask “how” and “why” questions, and the class’s pace is often determined by their enga gement with the material. During the classroom observations at th e MSES school, I was present for the teachings on the last military regime in Ar gentina. This topic was considered to be extremely important by the teach er—and at the school in general; therefore, three weeks of social studies classes were devoted to study the political, economical, and social aspects of the dictatorship. This subject is one of the last on the official curriculum, and it is briefly covered in the last chapter of the textbo ok; however, it was agreed at the school that since the 34th anniversary of the coup d’tat was early in the schoo l year, the class should cover it then. The topic was covered through multiple sources and materials, as well as the textbook. For instance, the subj ect was introduced through a documentary on the human rights violations dur ing the dictatorship. After wa tching the film, the students were assigned some “reflection questions” fo r homework; and in the following class they

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155 were discussed. During the discussion, the te acher introduced the issue about the illegal adoptions that took place duri ng the dictatorship, in whic h the babies of the people abducted and murdered were also kidnapped and given to foster families—mostly to people linked to the military. The teacher con tinued by talking about th e identity conflicts that these kidnapped children had when grow ing up; he asked the students: “what is a person’s identity? What determines your iden tity?” The students answered that your identity is your name, and th e teacher questioned them “why is that?” The students were encouraged to develop their own opinions and answers. The teacher continued the discussion by asking “what does personality m eans? Is one’s persona lity part of one’s identity?” The students answer ed that the personality is formed by “how you are, your gestures”; the teacher asked them to “elabor ate and think about how your personality is constructed.” The students shouted vari ous answers, including: “by how you are educated; by your family; by your way of thinking; by your life style; by your profession.” One student then asked the t eacher: “how did the parents adopting the kidnapped babies manage to not feel ba d and worthless?” The teacher responded by explaining that while some people were aware that those ba bies belonged to “disappeared” people, others did not know. The discussion continued with questions about the importance of one’s name and one’s identification card; the teacher talked about corruption and explained that “the m ilitary men would create fake identification cards giving new identities to the abducted babies. The teacher also introduced the concept of “one-sided” information, explaining that some of the children kidnapped were taught that their biological parents were crim inals and that the military men did them a favor by giving them up for adoption. The lesson ended with the teacher sharing some

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156 current events on the topic: “the corruption and crimes related to this military regime are still happening today. Two years ago Jorge L pez, a key witness in the trial of the military men involved in the abduction and murder of 30,000 people during the regime, was kidnapped after testifying and is still missi ng.” Overall, this lesson serves as a clear example of an active class. The students were actively pa rticipating, encouraged to develop their own thoughts, and presented with critical information. The class flowed as a conversation, rather than a constant lecture of information and “facts.” During another lesson on the military dictat orship at the MSES school, the teacher talked about the participati on and cooperation of other c ountries in the matter. He mentions that the United States was covertly an ally to the military regime in Argentina, since they trained the Argentinean military men to kill and torture. He added that the U.S. contributed to many of the dictatorships in Latin America during the sixties and seventies. Clearly, the lesson presented the st udents with a criti cal view on political issues, which also contributed to a hidden curriculum; the students were being taught about the values and ideas that correspond to the Argentinean middle class. The teacher was aware that, since the school was politic ized and extremely opposed to the military dictatorship, no student in his class was the son/daughter of a military person. Out of the three schools observed, the so cial studies lessons at the MSES school were the most politicized and the most criti cal against the governme nt and the elites. For instance, when talking about the difference be tween North and Latin America, the teacher asked the students: “Why we were never able to fully develop as a nation if we were never involved in a World Wa r?” The students did not res pond, and the teacher stated that it is because “we have corrupt gove rnments and the power and resources are

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157 unequally distributed.” On another occasion, when talking about the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the free-market, the teacher mentioned how privatization policies ruined the Argentinean economy. While the lessons were one-sided, they tended to reflect the struggles and opinions of the ge neral middle-class in Ar gentina; therefore, the teacher transmitted ideas that went in accordance to the background of his students and the background of the school. In additi on, the teacher frequently stressed the importance of tolerating different points of views. Other lessons and teaching approaches that established active learning included asking the students background questions on the material before starting the lesson. For instance, when studying the American continen t in the MSES school, the teacher asked if anyone in the class knew what the MERCOSUR was. In contrast to the LSES school, the students at this school were already familia r with geographic information, such as the oceans and countries; this shows how having the middle-class cultural capital allowed these students to cover the topics established by the national curriculum in a fast pace. The teacher constantly questioned the students before introducing new material; he once asked them what an isthmus was, and sin ce no one knew the answer, he encouraged the students to use their dictionaries. This way, the information is not fed by the teacher and teaches the students to look for sources of information in the classroom. Another technique was to make the students silen tly read some pages of the textbook and summarize them to the teacher. Often times, the students were divided into groups, and each group was assigned an article, to read a nd present to the rest of the class. By employing these methods, the students were cons tantly participating in their learning and were engaged with the material.

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158 The teaching approaches at the HSES sc hool were similar to the MSES school: they promoted interactive learning. For instan ce, before starting a new lesson, the teacher would ask the students to explain what they knew so far about the topic. Even when the answers were obvious—such as “what is Argent ina?”—this was a didactical technique of assessing the background knowledge of the students and getting them engaged with the material. Similar to the classes at the MSES sc hool, the HSES school teacher would also engage the students by constantly connecti ng the lessons to contemporary events. For example, when learning about the MERCOSUR, the teacher mentioned the current “pulp mill dispute” between Argentina and Uruguay. She explained that while the Argentinean government denounced that the pulp m ills on the Uruguay River violate the environmental standards of the MERCOSU R, the Uruguayan government argued that interfering with the pulp mills transgre sses the MERCOSUR regulations on freedom of circulation of goods. Then, the students were asked what else they knew about this dispute and what their standing is. Since the students were engaged in discussing environmental issues, the teacher began a discussion about air pollution and smog; she explained how Mexico City is one of the mo st polluted cities. This example shows how the pace of the class was often determined by the interests and engagement of the students, as well as how the HSES teacher provided the students with a global view which was not addressed in the LSES school. The HSES school teacher connected the curr iculum material with current events to make the students reflect on what was happening, to promote awareness, and to develop their own opinions. For example, durin g one class, the teacher said that the day

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159 before, the Chamber of Deputies approved the same-sex marriage bill. The students shared their thoughts on the matter, as well as on having a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The teacher contributed to the matter by transmitting values on tolerance and equality: “the sexual orientation of a person should not determine what rights they have. Homosexuals should have the same rights that heterosexuals have.” The inculcation of values and norms on open-mindedness also occurred during another class observed. During this one class, the disc ussion went off on a tangent, an d the students were talking about their view on aliens. The teacher t ook the opportunity to explain that “your perceptions depend on your point of view. For example, you think that aliens are short, green, and have large heads. From their point of view, we are giants and deformed.” The teacher continued by telling the student s that they should not judge people by appearances, because “we are all differ ent and there is no right or wrong.” Another common approach used in the active classes at the HSES and MSES schools was to encourage students to think cr itically about the ma terial. For instance, when studying the 1976 military regime at th e HSES school, the teacher asked: “what were the conditions of the country when the dictatorship began?” One student responded briefly, and the teacher explaine d that they should develop complete and deep answers. The teacher would also have va rious students answer the same question, in order to cover multiple aspects and points of view on a question. Often times, in both the HSES and MSES schools, when students would give a “wrong” or inappr opriate answer, the teachers would ask them to think why it was wr ong and what the right answer would be. The students at the HSES school frequently worked with their textbooks and other educational resources. For instance, sim ilarly to the MSES school, several academic

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160 journals were used during the lessons on the military dictatorship and the Falklands War. These resources covered the “facts” of the events and expressed a critical view. The students at the HSES school were often exposed to different po litical views, as well as to information about how the Argentinean politic al system worked. For example, as it was explained in the section on school resources, the competition at the Buenos Aires City Council exposed the students to political environments; it also gave them tools and strategies to make petitions and form solid arguments. Overall, this subsection reflects how the different use of teaching methods resulted in diverse classroom experiences am ong the three schools. While the lessons at the LSES school were more passive and attempte d to feed the material to the students, the MSES and HSES schools had the time and th e resources to engage in interactive and critical thinking lessons. The teaching appr oach used at the LSES school does not necessarily result from a personal preference of the teacher: the students did not have the cultural capital that the topics of the official curriculum requi red them to have in order to deal with more profound material. In addi tion, since the students were behind on the knowledge that a sixth grader should have, th e teacher might have felt the need to make the pace of the lessons faster and did not have time to engage in discussions and reflection. Furthermore, the LSES school’s lack of resources did not permit the teacher to use any class material aside from the photoc opies of textbook pages. In addition to the differences observed regarding teaching styles –passive vs active learning–, I observed differences in terms of teachings of social norms and values. 6.4.2. Social and national consciousness Within the in-use-curriculum developed in the social studies class at the LSES

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161 school, there was an emphasis given to cla ss consciousness and soci al consciousness. The transmission of these norms emerged in the form of comments and advice by the teacher regarding the class material or the behavior of the student s. The inculcation of these values comprises a hidden curriculum reinforc ing and legitimization the social class of the students. While the sitting arrangement of the students, the posters “decorating” the classroom, and the constant remarks of the teacher reinforced critical thinking and collectivistic values, these were not carried into practice when teaching. For instance, a poster in the wall read: “In this classroom, we respect our comm unity standards during times of reflection, dialogue, debate, and pr oduction.” Yet, as we have seen in the previous subsection, the classroom dynamic wa s not consistent with this statement. During one of the observations, the teacher told me that she does not like the students’ desk to be in rows; “I rath er have them in groups, even though it crowds the classroom and makes it seem even smaller.” The emphasi s given to teach about collectiveness was present when evaluating the students. For instance, the teacher told her students that class participation is evaluated and will be reflect ed in their final grade, including how they work with their peers. However, as I pr eviously mentioned, the classroom work and instruction required little in teraction among the students; therefore, the teacher transmitted the values but was not able to put them into practice. Following the comment about classroom participati on, the teacher announced: “Her e we are a small society. When you [the students] leave primary and secondary school, you will be a member of a society and you have to know how to interact with others when you work.” The implicit message in this statement is the insinuation th at the students will start working as soon as

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162 they finish primary or secondary school, disr egarding the possibility of obtaining a higher education; this reinforces their position in the social hierarchy. The point of belonging to “a group” also came up when establishing discipline in the classroom. During one class in the LSES school, the teacher lectur ed on “the right to study and the responsibility to do your work.” She talked about the differences between rights and duties, stating to the class: “Thinking about oneself is selfish. When you exercise your rights, you need to think about everyone else.” As an example, she explains that even though you might have your own apartment, you ca nnot throw a party at any time you want because “you need to take your neighbors into consideration.” She added: “you need to be respectful towards others. You need to respect the person next to you. You need to watch your words, your gestur es, and your actions—bot h boys and girls.” First, clarifying that the advice applies to “both boys and girl s” implies that expectations on values and behavior differ by gender. Second, behind the lessons on respect and solidarity lies the indoctrination of social consciousness and responsibility, which also reflects class consciousness. Being aware of the social position of the students, the teacher might inculcate values on collectivity and solidarity because these are necessary components in forming social movements and attaining social change. Given that the teacher comes from a background similar to he r students’, she might believe that the only way these students can achieve social mobility is by working together. In addition, the transmission of social consciousness occurred during the lessons on material established in the curriculum During one instance, when teaching about environmental sustainability, the teacher mentioned to the stud ents that they should help preserve the environment every day. She explained to the class: “we need to be conscious

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163 about the future. In a society we are a w hole, not an accumulation of individuals. The country needs each citizen to shoulder equal weight.” Once more, this statement reflects the inculcation of social and nationalistic c onsciousness; the message about the country’s needs intrudes in the lesson about the envi ronment. The teacher goes on by explaining how environmental issues affect everyone: “t he planet is like a large house. We each have our home, but the planet is everybody’s, an d that’s why we all need to take care of it.” In addition, we can observe that the t eacher reduces abstract concepts to basic terms—“planet” is defined as a “large house”; this only occurred at the LSES, possibly because the teacher believed that the stude nts cannot understand the abstract concepts. The inculcation of these values and no rms form a social consciousness which encourages obedience in the LSES; the students are taught to act according to mainstream viewpoints. For instance, during one class, the students are given a pocket-size version of the constitution of the City of Buenos Aires. While handing them out, the teacher enunciates: “the constitution lies above ever ything else. The constitution is the mother law, the one that gives us the frame for our rights and duties.” The lesson continues with an explanation of the importance of knowing one’s rights and respons ibilities: “you have to know what rights you have as a citizen and as a person. How can you stand up for your rights if you don’t know what t hose rights are?” While this lesson teaches students about their rights, they reinforce that there is a power that “lies above everything else” and cannot be challenged. This i ndoctrination constitu tes a hidden curriculum that reinforces the social class of the students, because, wh ile the students are taught about collectivity and solidarity, they are also indoctrinated with an ideology of obedience, order, and nationalism.

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164 These messages were not observed in e ither the MSES or HSES schools; acting collectively was neither encouraged nor dissu aded. However, even though the teaches did not inculcate the students with collectivisti c values, it was previously shown that in practice, the students at the MSES and HSES schools worked more collectively than the students at the LSES school. In contrast to the messages instilled at the LSES school, the teacher at the MSES school talked about res ponsibility from an indi vidualistic level. For instance, he once told the class: “life does not qualify you as good, average, or outstanding. If you do not take re sponsibility, life hits you.” In another class, the teacher stated: “you [the students] need to be co mmitted to whatever you do and you need to be passionate about what you do; this way you w ill not become mediocre. The majority of us need to face the real world, and it is up to you how you will take on your life: do you want to be the protagonist of your life, or do you want to be a secondary character?” This statements show that, unlike the LSES teacher the teacher at the MSES school talked on the second person and focused at an individual level, recognizing the individuality of the students. These messages express that the student s have control of their life; they transmit that hard work pays off, and that doing the opposite has negative repercussions. Also, when saying “the majority of us need to f ace the real world,” the teacher is being class conscious and aware that these students do not have the world at their fingertips; however, the lesson transmits th at the students have the tool s to be “good, average, or outstanding.” These messages are also part of a hidden curriculum in which the middleclass students are indoctrinated to the valu es according to their social class.

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165 Similarly to MSES school, in the HSES school the students were not exposed to messages that encouraged collectiveness. However, when comparing the norms and values taught at the LSES and HSES schools, the HSES school encouraged the formation of a national consciousness that was less demagogical and much more critical. For instance, when talking about the military dictatorship, the HSES school teacher mentioned how the military government did no t respect many of the rights guaranteed by the constitution: “Although the Argentinean c onstitution guarantees that every citizen has the freedom to publish their ideas without being censored, the military government censored and even repressed t hose that did not co ncur with their id eology.” Therefore, the HSES teacher showed the students that the constitution does not “lie about everything else” and that laws are sometimes broken. Th is way, the HSES stude nts are indoctrinated with a form of national consciousness th at encourages them to be critical. Overall, the norms and values inculcated during the social st udies classes differed by the social status of the students. The st udents at the LSES sc hool were exposed to values that encouraged solidarity, collectivit y, and obedience; this shows that the teacher was aware of the social positions of the stud ent and tried to educated them on important elements for social movements. However, at the same time, the indoctrination on a demagogical national consciousness did not en courage the students to challenge their position. 6.4.3. The impact of textbooks on th e unequal distribution of knowledge In the earlier sections I showed that the textbooks were selected by the teachers. While the students at the MSES and HSES ha d a social studies textbook, due to financial restrictions, the students at the LSES school were not a ssigned to pur chase a book—they

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166 bought photocopies of textbook pages provided by the teacher. I also demonstrated throughout this chapter that only the MSES and HSES schools used additional sources and literary material in their social studies lessons. The reason behind this practice was because the MSES and HSES school teachers considered the textbook to be “extremely basic, pure facts.” In this s ection I seek to corroborate th e “neutrality” of the textbook and therefore attribute the inequali ty in distribution of knowledge to other factors, such as differences in additional materials used in class, passive versus active learning, and knowledge shared by the teacher. Coincidenta lly, the MSES and HSES school used the same textbook for the social studi es course. This further prov es that there were not many differences in the educational experiences that these two schools provided to their students. Comparing the textbook used at th ese schools to the textbook that the LSES school teacher used to structure her class, I did not find many differences: both textbooks are strategically designed by th e publishing companies to include the topics established in the official curriculum. They both included th e same information but in different order. The first chapter in both books is abou t general information on North and Latin America and Argentina. The title of the ch apter on the MSES and HSES schools’ book is “Argentina, the country we liv e in” while the titl e of the chapter on the LSES school’s book is “America and Argentina.” Both chap ters cover the exact same information, including geographic structure of the contin ent, neighboring countri es, demographics of the Argentinean population, and the MERCOSU R. Since the content of the book is extremely similar, the fundamental differen ce lies in how the teacher presented the chapter. During class, for example, the MSES school teacher critici zed the section on the demographics of the Argentinean population be cause it portrayed the country to be very

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167 welcoming to immigrants. He told the st udents that Argentineans have negative stereotypes towards people of all nationalities and races and that immigrants have a hard time adapting and being accepted. In contrast, the passive learning approach employed at the LSES school used the textbook as the onl y “objective” source of information during the lessons. This subsection shows that although teacher s have the autonomy to select which textbook they want to use in class, the une qual distribution of knowledge arises from other factors. It was the critical texts, acad emic journals, and newspaper articles which had an impact on the knowledge of the st udents at the MSES and HSES schools. In addition, the unequal distribution of knowledge is also caused by differe nt formation of a lived curriculum, as well as difference in the teachers’ didactical approaches. Conclusion The findings of the fieldwork carried out in three schools in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires show that students attending public schools have different academic and learning experiences based on both their own and the schools’ socioeconomic status. The variation of backgrounds between the stude nts at each school had an impact on the curriculum taught in class. The content of the national curriculum assumed that the students possessed certain “co mmon knowledge.” The official curriculum is not designed with the consideration that students are cultur ally and socially dive rse. As a result, the teacher who had the most diverse group, the LSES school teacher, had to devote a long time to teach the students a bout “basic” cultural knowledge be fore covering the topics of the curriculum. Given that this teacher was coming from the same socioeconomic background as her students, her lessons tended to be class conscious. However, she often

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168 said things that were not culturally sensitive of the diversity of her students. On the other hand, the MSES and HSES had relatively homogenous groups in terms of class and culture, which made it feasible to cover the topics established by the national curriculum. In relation to the schools’ configurati on, the study also finds that schools were structured in a way that assumed that pare nts could participate in their children’s education. This structure benefits the pare nts who had the most social and economic capital, as well as the dominant cultural capi tal. The finding show that the LSES school parents did not have the e ducational background, networ ks, resources, or time to cooperate with their chil dren’s education inside or outside school compared to the parents of MSES and HSES students. This impacted the LSES school students’ educational experience in two ways: the cooperadora, which was run by parents, was weaker and was less able to get necessary funds for the school Also, the majority of the students at the LSES school were not exposed to an enrich ing educational environment at home. Given that the schools’ structure expected parent s to participate in the educational process outside of school, the students who did not receive help were at a disadvantage. For instance, the pace of the curriculum was slow ed because most students would not study outside of school. Another important finding about the student s is that the HSES school teachers did not consider their students to belong to a high socioec onomic class. The MSES and HSES school teachers defined the socioec onomic background of their students in the same way: middle class with a stable financ ial position. This makes us question if, even though the HSES school is located in a high socioeconomic status area, the students belong to this social class. Throughout the analysis of how edu cational experiences

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169 depend on the SES of the school, the MSES and HSES schools did not show many differences: the didactical approaches and the topics taught were very similar; even the textbooks used were the same. Therefore, it appears public education offers more advantages to the middle-income childre n, over lower-income ones, while the higher income children attend private schools. In terms of resources, the findings show that, despite r eceiving the amount of state funding, the buildings given to each school re flected the socioeconomic status of the regions. Therefore, the LSES school faced pr oblems and expenditures related to building reparations that the other two schools did not In addition, the differences in the funds collected by the cooperadora led to different academic experiences. While the LSES school’s cooperadora collected the least am ount of funds, they had to spend that money to cover basic needs and repairs of the bu ilding. The other two schools also used the cooperadora’s money for basic needs that should be covered by the state’s funding; however, they had surplus funds that allowe d them to enhance the classroom experience by purchasing materials and assisting the students who could not purchase textbooks. Therefore, the resources used in the classrooms differed va stly between the LSES school and the MSES and HSES schools: the LSES st udents did not have textbooks because they were too expensive; in contrast, the MSES and HSES students purchased their own books or had them provided by the cooperadora when their parents could not afford them. Furthermore, the school provided them with additional classroom materials, such as academic journals. The role of the teacher in each school varied according to the circumstances of their students and the resources of the school. Both LSES school teachers interviewed felt

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170 that their students were grades behind in cer tain topics and subjects. The main challenge for these teachers was to cover the nationa l curriculum when their students did not possess the expected knowledge of a sixth grader. Therefore, the teachers had to adapt their lessons to the level of their students In the MSES and HSES schools, the teachers shaped the curriculum according to the interest s of the students and the resources offered by the schools; they were able to cover the topics of the curricul um and add external resources and interactive activities to engage the students and teach deep concepts. The study’s findings also reveal that within each school all students in the same grade had the same opportunities: they had the same courses, the same teachers, and the same material. In addition, the teachers in al l three schools evaluated the students on the process of learning, not only the results; thus, permitting all students to achieve highly even if they are not good test-takers. The difference in the content covered in the classes and the teaching approaches also contributed to unequal learning expe riences. Given the achievement gap seen between the LSES school and the HSES a nd MSES schools, the in-use-curriculum developed in class differed vastly among the schools. The in-use-curriculum of the LSES school vaguely followed the official curriculum due to the lack of re sources and the fact that the students were often grades behi nd in their knowledge. In addition, the LSES school teacher employed a passive teaching ap proach, in which there was no room for critical thinking activities or interactive lessons. The lessons mostly consisted of delivering “factual” information to the stude nts and reinforcing that knowledge through assignments. One possible reason the teacher ha d to take this approach was that the students needed to rush through learning the topics that the sixt h grade curriculum

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171 expected them to know. In contrast, the le ssons at the MSES and HSES schools were highly interactive. The teachers had the resour ces and the time to expose the students to material and activities that were challengi ng and that made them think critically. Within the in-use-curriculum developed in each classroom, a hidden-curriculum was found. Given that the socioeconomic stat us of the teachers was similar to the socioeconomic status of the students, the teach ers were often inculcating the student with their values and ideologies. In the LSES sc hool, the teacher interlaced the lessons with messages that reinforced collectivity a nd solidarity; these were extremely class conscious. However, the strong inculcation of a nationalistic dema gogy still reflected a collective consciousness but not a cultural consciousness. Th e large amount of time spent on indoctrinating nationalistic values reflects a hidden curriculum that intends to form a “good citizen”; the students were not encouraged to challenge or think critically about the social, economic, or political situ ation in Argentina. In the MSES and HSES schools, the st udents were indoctrinated with a hidden curriculum that reflected the ideology and th e values of their social class— the middle class. In particular, the MSES school had a reputation for being politicized, which was clearly observed in the lessons; for instan ce, the MSES school teacher repeatedly criticized how corrupt the Argentinean government was. In comparison to the LSES school, the students at the MSES school were of ten inculcated with individualistic values. Again, these values reflected class conscious ness within a middle-class ideology. Both social studies classes at the MSES and HS ES schools created a national consciousness that was critical; the students were taught both about how th e nation works as well as its injustice. They were encouraged to be engaged and opinionated.

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172 Based on the findings of the study, the next chapter discusses and analyzes the role of the school in Argentina. I explain why there was an achievement gap between the students of the LSES school and the students of the MSES and HSES school. In addition, I explore whether the educa tional system and experience in Argentina supports the theories and studies of school inequality in the United States. Comp aring my findings to the empirical work done in the U.S. gives us a frame of reference to examine what impact a national curriculum has in rela tion to educational equality.

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173CHAPTER 7: Discussion and conclusion The study conducted in three public schools located in districts of different socioeconomic status reveals that the e ducational experience of a student in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires is shaped by his/her social class position. In this chapter, I analyze the study’s findings to de termine what the role of the schooling in Argentina is; as a frame of reference, I use the empirical studies that establish what the role of the schools is in the United States. The first section of th is chapter examines whether the mechanisms suggested by the sc hool inequality theori es, which have been shown to be present in the sc hools in the U.S., are also pres ent in schools in Argentina. I analyze whether educational ineq uality theories are applicable to my study in Argentina; are the social, cultural, economic, and polit ical mechanisms that reproduce and produce social inequality in U.S. school s also present in Argentina? The second section of this chapter answers why the stude nts in the schools located in the high and middle class districts bel onged to a middle socioeconomic class. To answer this question, I have to refer to th e neoliberal policies that transformed the Argentinean educational system. In this sec tion, I show how, even though the neoliberal educational policies in Argentina and the Un ited States differed, the “marketization” of education contributes to the educationa l inequality found in both nations. The last section of this chapter answer s whether having a nati onal curriculum in Argentina is a contributing f actor promoting educational eq uality. I examine the impact of having a national curriculum in Argentina by using the studies on the United States as a frame of reference. I argue that although sc hools in Argentina have national curriculum,

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174 their role and effect on Argentinean society is not very different from that of the United States. 7.1. Educational inequality in Argentina and the United States The findings of my study in Argentina show that edu cational inequality is a persistent problem in the public education sy stem. Social class was a factor determining the opportunities and access to a good quality ed ucation. Similar to th e empirical research done in the United States, my study on Arge ntina reveals that schools advantage the students who come from the dominant social groups and have high levels of social, cultural, and economic capital. I use the resu lts from the empirical studies on American educational inequality and my own study on Argentinean in equality to compare how schools in the United States and schools in Argentina reproduce and produce inequalities. Based on the theories on educational inequa lity, I demonstrate how economic, cultural, and social mechanisms of the schools in both countries benefit the students who are better positioned in the social hierarchy. In the following subsections, I present the economic, cultural, and social factors used in schools th at contribute to the reproduction of social class in the United States and Argentina. In addition, I demonstrate how schools in both countries legitimize and reinforce the st udents’ social position by producing and unequally distributing knowledge according to the socioeconomic status of the students. 7.1.1. Economic inequalities The unequal distribution of resources and funding was an issue found in both Argentinean and American schools. Although public schools in the United States and Argentina are financed differently, in both c ountries the schools with the students of low socioeconomic status were the most disadvantag ed in terms of economic resources. In the

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175 United States, schools receive funding from the national, state, and local district levels; however, the majority of the budget comes fr om state and local sources. Empirical studies of American public schools show that th ere is inequality in funding at an interand intra-district level (Cordon & Rosci gno, 2003; Dumas, 2009; Fruchter, 2007; Herriott & St. John, 1996). On one hand, the per-pupil amount spent in the wealthier districts is much higher than in the poorer districts beca use part of their funding comes from local tax bases; thus, the districts with the w ealthier populations an d properties have the wealthier public schools. On the other ha nd, there are disparitie s in funding within a district because local school boards have the power to decide how funds should be distributed. The empirical studies on this matte r reveal that the peopl e in those positions of authority tend to be part of the dominant social groups; therefore, their decisions in the distribution of resources reflect their power and interests (Anyon, 1997; Cordon & Roscigno, 2003; Dumas, 2009; Lauen, 2007). In Argentina, research on unequal sc hool funding has focu sed on jurisdictional discrepancies (Mezzadra & Rivas, 2005; Ri vas, Veleda, & Vera, 2009; Rivas et al., 2010). However, my study shows that, due to the structure of the school financing system, there are differences in per-pupil budget within a jurisd iction. Since a large portion of the schools’ budget comes from pr ovincial funds, the wealthier the provinces are, the more money they can allocate to thei r schools. In addition, the provinces that are more populated were shown to be at a disadva ntage because they have to divide their funding into more inst itutions. Nonetheless, my study revealed that, within the same jurisdiction, schools possessed different budgets This discrepancy resulted from the schools’ dependence on a cooperadora to raise money to cover the expenditures that the

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176 national and provincial funding cannot cove r. Originally, the intent of the cooperadora was to cover special expenditures or provide aid to economically di sadvantaged students; however, my results show that the funds collect ed were used for basic needs. Given that the cooperadoras obtained money from the students a nd were organized and managed by parents, the schools with the w ealthier students had more fund s. The difference in school funding led to inequalities in resources; the cooperadora at the MSES and HSES schools used their funding to enhance the classroom e xperience, purchase materials, cover basic costs, and aid low-income students. The si gnificantly smaller amount of funding gathered by the cooperadora at the LSES school had to be mos tly used to repair the decaying school building. Furthermore, gi ven that the Argentinean pu blic school system does not provide textbooks, the economic capital of the students also determined what materials are used in the classroom. In the MSES a nd HSES schools, the students had to buy their textbooks, and the cooperadora helped out those who could not afford it. In contrast, the classes at the LSES school did not use text books because the majority of the students could not afford them and the cooperadora did not have enough funds to assist them. Another common inequality issue found in Argentin ean and American schools was the discrepancy in teacher’s quality; in both countries, the studies show that the most disadvantaged schools have the least experi enced teachers. The factors causing this disparity, however, are different in each na tion. In the Unites States previous research demonstrated that as the schools’ budget increas e, the teacher-student ratios decrease and teachers’ credentials increase. Therefore, the wealthier schoo ls, located in the wealthier neighborhoods, and comprised of the wealthie r students, had the most experienced and qualified teachers (Cordon & Roscigno, 2003; Dumas, 2009). In the case of Buenos

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177 Aires, the difference in teacher qualificati ons resulted from the hiring system used in schools. Teachers were awarde d points based on their experiences and studies, and when a teaching position was available, those with the most points had priority in obtaining it. My study showed that the teachers with the most points had the advantage of selecting the institution where they wanted to work; they tended to prefer the wealthier schools because they counted on more resources and were the “least problematic.” The inequality in economic resources in the American and Argentinean schools led to an increase in privat e school enrollment. For instan ce, a study on the public schools in Seattle, Washington showed that due to the insufficient funding and deteriorating conditions of schools located in a middle/wo rking-class district, numerous middle-class parents placed their children in private schools. Since the working-class families did not have the economic capital to afford sending their children to private institutions, they were concentrated in the poor public schools (Dumas, 2009). Si milarly, in Argentina, the statistics on private school attendance show a large increment in the last two decades; this results from the deterioration of public schools, as the educational system became segmented and many schools were disadvantage by the decentralized system of financing (Rivas et al., 2007; Rivas et al. 2010; Veleda, 2003). Furthe rmore, my study reveals that, within the jurisdiction of Buenos Aires, the insufficient public schools funding and the deterioration schools led the high socioeconomic status families to resort to private education. The study’s findings show that the st udents of the schools located in the HSES and MSES regions were mainly coming from mi ddle-class families; the vast majority of students from high-middle and high socioeconomic status families were enrolled in

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178 private schools (the reason for this occurrence will be further discussed and explained in section 7.2.: “Education and the market”). 7.1.2. Cultural and social capital inequalities The studies and research on education in Argentina and the United States also show that the structures of their school systems advant age those students who possess high levels of social and cultu ral capital. The empirical work done in American schools suggests that students who come from a home environment that is academically nourishing and has cultural ar tifacts attain higher educat ional outcomes than students who are not provided with such stimulat ing environments (DiMaggio & Morh, 1985; Lareau, 1987; Teachman, 1987). In the same wa y, my study in Argentina indicated that the students from the MSES and HSES school s, whose parents were educated and who had a nourishing cultural environment at home, received a higher quality of education. The classes at the HSES and MSES stayed on track with the official curriculum, given that students possessed the expected knowledge of a sixth-grader. In c ontrast, the teachers at the LSES school often had to modify the official curriculum because the students did not have the “basic” knowledge about Arge ntinean culture. These students were at a disadvantage because, similarly to schools in the U.S., the schools in Argentina adopt the cultural forms of the dominant groups, employ th em as natural, and are structured under the assumption that everyone possesses them. Along these lines, research in the United States also i ndicates that the level of cultural capital of the students’ parents affects their educational achievements (Lareau, 1987, 2003). These studies suggest that parents with high levels of cultural capital and educational attainment have the ability to cu ltivate their children’s cognitive skills; this

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179 results in an advantage at school. The cu ltural forms and child-rearing views of the dominant groups give the students coming from such families the support and tools necessary to succeed academically. For inst ance, students coming from a middle-class family that engaged in concerned cultivation received the time and resources necessary from their parents to nouris h their intellect. Furthermore, schools in the Unites States advantaged this group of students, since th e school programs were structured with the assumption that every child received suppor t at home (Lareau, 1987). Likewise, in Argentina, I found that the pace and the academic level of the classes at the LSES school were affected by the parents’ lack of high cu ltural capital. For instance, only the teachers at the LSES school argued that the stude nts did not do their homework because the parents did not support them and push them to do it. Furthermore, the teachers suggest that the parents of the LSES were not able to help the students academically because many of them were not educated. Thus, this difference in the cultural capital of the parents resulted in a disadvantage for the LSES school students because they had to spend more time covering each topic and learning about cultural forms with which they were not familiar. Schools in the United States and in Arge ntina the cultu ral capital of the parents also determined their involvement in schools. Empirical works in American schools show that parents of middleand hi gh social groups participated in and collaborated with more school activities than parent s of lower social groups (Dumas, 2009; Lareau, 2000, 2003). First, this difference was a result of differen ces in resources: parents with more economic capital had more time and money to attend ev ents. Second, the parents with more cultural capital felt more comfortable dealing with te achers and school matters. For instance, one

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180 study showed that middle-class groups had smoo th family-school relationships, while the working-class parents often felt helpless a nd hopeless when dealing with school matters (Lareau, 1987). The studies s uggest that more involved pa rents have more involved students, which leads to higher educa tional outcomes (Coleman & Hoffer, 1987; Gamoran, 2001; Lareau 1987; Teachman et al ., 1996). My study in Argentinean schools recorded the same occurrences of parental involvement. While the teachers at the MSES and HSES schools were able to easily contac t the parents and have their support, the teachers at the LSES schools stated that th e parents did not get too involved in their children’s education because they felt that th ey had nothing to contri bute. Therefore, the teachers at these schools did not feel that they could count on their students’ parents to contribute to the educational process. The levels of cultural and social capital of the parents in Arge ntinean schools also directly impacted the educatio nal experience because of the cooperadora The parents of the students at the MSES and HSES school ha d the cultural knowledge and social capital to understand how the system worked and be involved in the school. Therefore, in comparison to the LSES school, the cooperadoras at the HSES and MSES schools were active and able to gather si gnificant amounts of funding to as sist the schools and enhance the educational experiences. The studies carrie d out in the United Stat es also show that high levels of social capital gives parents the necessary tools to decode and manipulate the educational system, thus putting their child ren at an advantage (Ball et al., 1994; Kao, 2004; Lareau, 2000; Lipman, 1997; Noguera, 2004) The social capital of the dominant groups in the U.S. allow them to get involve d and influence the decisions of the local school board and the distribution of funding. Th eir knowledge of the system allows these

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181 parents to push for changes and policies that reflected their interests. Furthermore, the structure of the American educational system be nefits those with high er levels of social capital, since they have more information a bout schools’ qualities, application systems, and attaining resources, su ch as financial aid. 7.1.3. Knowledge production and distribution inequalities Another common characteristic between th e schools in the United States and in Argentina is that, in both countries, the dom inant groups control th e knowledge that gets into schools and how it is distributed. The roots of th e American and Argentinean educational system are very similar: resear ch on the formation of the school system and on the objectives of education in both countri es shows that, historically, schools were used as tools to deal with the rising number of immigrant and diverse populations. In the United States, schools used a curriculum that transmitted the culture and values of the “native” groups; in other words, schools aimed to acculturate the minorities and immigrant into the dominant class’s standard s of life. Similarly, in Argentina, schools used the curriculum as way to educate the “barbarians” and form “civilized” citizens; the objective of the schools was to establish order in the nation. Th erefore, we can see that in both countries, the schools inco rporated and applied the cultural forms and ideologies of the dominant groups to the whole (diverse) population. Contemporary studies on curricular policy and knowledge distribution in Argentina and the United States show that each country took a different approach in structuring the school system. In the U.S., the official curriculum can vary between schools within one district. The empirical stud ies on the effects of the “tracking system” reveal that this system of placing students in different level courses based on ability

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182 results in inter-school and intra-school inequa lities. The wealthier publ ic institutions were shown to offer more variety of high level cour ses; in addition, within the school, social class was shown to be a determining factor fo r track placement. This system also worked to benefit those students with the higher economic, cultural, and social capital (Alexander & McDill, 1976; Jones et al., 1987; Spade et al., 1997). In contrast, the structure of schools in Argentina did not allow for intra-sc hool inequalities; in fact, the established national curriculum attempted to assure that ev ery student in the same grade level had the same core courses and covered the same materi al. Even though, as it will be discussed in section 7.3 (“effects of a national curriculum”) the national curriculum did not work as it was intended, differences in curricula and cl ass content were only found between schools. Unlike the occurrences in American schools, my study in Argentina shows that within one school all students from the same grade level had the same academic experiences. In spite of these structural differences in the schools in Argentina and the Unites States, the educational institutions in both countries exercised a relative autonomy that allowed them to produce and distribute know ledge unequally. In the United States, the segregation of low socioeconomic students into low-income schools or lower tracks allowed the unequal distributi on of knowledge via the use of the official and a hidden curriculum. The homogeneity of the classroom s allowed for the construction of in-usecurriculum that produced different knowledge in accordance to the social class of the students. The empirical work in American sc hools show that stude nts leave the schools with different amounts of accumulated cultur al capital that was formed in those institutions (Anyon, 1981; Gamoran, 2001; J ones et al., 1987; Lareau, 2003; Oakes, 2007). Furthermore, schools produced certain technical and mechanical knowledge that

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183 served to legitimize and reinforce the students’ position in the social hierarchy. My study in Argentina reveals that despite having a national curriculum there was room for the construction of a in-use-curriculum and a hi dden national curriculum. Students from the lower class school were inculcated with di fferent values and norms than the students from the MSES and HSES schools; the knowle dge produced at the LSES school served to reinforce the social position of the students. In addition, di fferences in cultural, social, and economic capital between the students of the LSES school and the students of the MSES and HSES schools led to the unequa l distribution of knowledge. The MSES and HSES schools had more resources to enhan ce the classroom learning experience; also, those students had the cultural capital that was necessary to cover the material of the official curriculum. The difference between the curriculums at each school will be further explained in section 7.3. 7.2. Education and the market The “marketization” of education phenom ena can be observed over the course of the last centuries in both Ar gentina and the United States Although the countries have dissimilar economic and political structures and hold different powers and positions in the world, both Argentina and the United St ates are unequal societies in which the distribution of wealth is une ven. Therefore, even though the approaches and influences causing the marketization of education in each country differed, the effects of these neoliberal market-driven educational policies we re acute and detrimental in both nations. In Argentina, the marketization of edu cation came about from the changes in the political and economic structure of the countr y. The neoliberal ideals introduced by the military regime in the 1970’s claimed that th e government had to respect the “natural

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184 separation” between state a nd society. The proposals and po licies develope d since the 1970’s are influenced by international intere sts, particularly by the United States. The Argentinean neoliberal governments followe d the Washington Consensus as a way to resolve the foreign debt and balance of paymen t crises and as a strategy to modernize the State. Furthermore, international organiza tions, such as the World Bank and the IMF, “proposed” and intervened with the implementation of free ma rket policies in exchange for providing refinancing options and loans. As the structures of the economic, social, and political spheres were transformed by th ese policies, the pub lic sector underwent a major transformation. The national government partly influenced by international lenders, re-shaped the configuration of the educational system: it became decentralized by bringing new actors into th e field; simultaneously, the establishment of a national curriculum and quality assessments centralized it. The repercussions of the neoliberal e ducation policies have been recorded by numerous scholars (Feldfeber 1997, 2000; Ibar rolla & Bernal, 2003; Rivas et al. 2010; Torres & Puigross, 1995; Veleda, 2003). Th e fragmentation of the system, which included transferring the responsibilities fo r financing education to the provincial governments, resulted in severe inter-provinc ial inequalities: the di screpancy in amounts for public spending between each jurisdiction resulted in unequal educational resources and quality. Furthermore, my study has shown that the marketizati on of education had repercussions within a jurisd iction. My study shows that the socioeconomic statuses of the students attending the schools in the MSES and HSES regions are similar: both populations principally pe rtain to a middle-class sector. Th erefore, we can observe in the data and results of the fiel d research that the educati onal practices, resources, and

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185 parental involvement in both MSES and HSES schools were similar—in contrast to the LSES school. Even the teachers at the HSES school explaine d that their students come from a middle socioeconomic status with parents who are educat ed and professionals. Thus, if the students of high socioeconomic status do not at tend the public school located in the high socioeconomic region, what institu tions do they attend? The marketization of education resulted in having a large percentage of students belonging to middle, middlehigh, and high social groups congregated in pr ivate schools: in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, almost 50 percent of the co mpulsory student population attends private schools (Rivas et al., 2010, p. 88). The massive expansion of private education began in 1990’s and was caused by three factor s: the involvement of privat e actors in the field; the national government’s promoting and subsid izing of private education; and the deterioration of the quality of public educa tion resulting from the transfer policies and insufficient budget. Furthermore, the centralizing market-dri ven policies, which implemented national quality assessments, also caused intra-juri sdictional inequalities in education. The evaluations of education permitted the “consumers” (parents), who possessed sufficient resources for school choice, to gather their children in the “best sc hools.” In addition, the “producers” (the schools) who we re highly desired had the oppor tunity to select a student population that was not “problematic” and w ould achieve highly; these usually were students with the dominant group’s social, cu ltural, and economic cap itals. Also, since schools are in part financially sustained by cooperadoras (due to the dece ntralization of educational system), the students with the mo st social, cultural, and economic capital can provide the school with the most resources and assistance.

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186 In the United States, the mark etization of the educational system took a different path, yet it also resulted in the expansion of educa tional inequality. The d ecentralized nature of its educational system resulted in vast inequa lities as American cities became socially segregated in the early twentieth century. Th e authority and influence of the state and local governments allowed for intraand inter-district inequalities. However, these inequalities were exacerbated by the market-d riven policies that aimed to “solve” them. The implementation of school choice and sta ndardized testing policies further benefited the groups with the most economic resour ces and the dominant social and cultural capitals. School choice further segregated disa dvantaged families in deteriorated schools, because low income parents had less access to useful information about schools through their social networks. On the other hand, a dvantaged parents had the networks and the knowledge to know about measures of school qua lity, as well as to navigate through the system and place their children in those institu tions. By virtue of their cultural capital, advantaged parents have an edge when ne gotiating educational bur eaucracies and school administrations. Furthermore, advantaged parents have the economic resources to exercise school choice, such as a car to go visit the schools (Gamoran, 2001; Lareau, 1987, 2003). Additionally, the standardi zed test policies established by the No Child Left Behind Act, which attempts to promote equality by having schools compete with each other, also resulted in further inequalities. This policy not only ranks schools based on the students’ results, but also de termines its funding according to their ranking: the highestachieving schools receive the most funds. Theref ore, the lowest-achieving schools, which tend to have limited resources and serve lowincome communities, have to shape their

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187 curriculum to obtain good results in the sta ndardized tests. The deterioration of the quality of education caused by the emphasis gi ven to standardized examinations causes students who have sufficient resources to exercise school choice to switch to other institutions; thus, the most disadvantage s students are segregated in the most disadvantaged schools. The market-driven neoliberal policies in Argentina and the U.S., which blamed the educational system’s inefficiency and in equality on the intervention of the state, prolonged and even perpetuated this inequalit y. However, the marketization of education delegates the blame for the inequality produced by the neoliberal policies onto parents, students, and schools. Since th e neoliberal educational polic ies in both countries suggest that the assessment of quality of education and the freedom to exer cise school choice allows parents to pick the education they want for their children, it is the families’ fault if they keep sending their children to “failing sc hools.” Additionally, the marketization of schools makes education a “consumer good,” yet there are three reasons why schools cannot be a consumer good: first, since educ ation in Argentina and U.S. is compulsory, the “consumer” is forced to purchase; this lack of free will does not comply with the market’s ideology on freedom of choice. S econd, education is not a single product good, like a shoe or a car; instead, schools are multiproduct institutions; therefore, if parents were to choose a school by one of the many serv ices that the school offers, and if schools only focus on meeting that demand, then they would not be covering the other needs. Third, unlike buying a car, purchasing an edu cation does not mean that the consumer owns it. There is a dialectic relationshi p among the students-the teachers-the schools; what the students get from the school depends on their participation in it. Therefore, the

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188 market-driven educational policies cannot be effective when education cannot be a consumer good; instead, they furthe r expand educational inequalities. 7.3. Effects of a national curriculum The coursework and topics taught in Ar gentinean public schools are established by a national curriculum mandated by the fede ral government. According to the National Law of Education of 2006, the logic behind havi ng a national curriculum is that it assures that everyone obtains a good quality of education: “A common curricular design is rooted on the conception of a common edu cation, understood as th e social practice of cultural transmission, which aims to promote greater social justic e and guarantee the universal right to education” (Direcci n General de Cultura y Educacin, 2007, p. 19). This contemporary law decrees that the Mini stry of Education, Sc ience, and Technology has the responsibility and power to define the structures of a common curriculum and establish the subjects and topics to be covere d in each grade level. Having examined the teaching and classrooms dynamics that take place in Argentinean public elementary schools, it can be analyzed whether the national curriculum achieves what it intends according to the National Law of Education. More specifically, we can decipher if establishing a national curriculum is a succe ssful approach to combat educational inequality. Based on the findings of the sixth-grade social studies class observations and teacher interviews at three Argentinean public primary schools, it can be deduced that the national curriculum was subject to major tr ansformations at the school and classroom level. The study shows that the LSES, MSES and HSES schools employed the national curriculum in different manners; thus, not ever y sixth-grade student enrolled in a public

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189 school in the City of Buenos Aires was lear ning the same material and covering the same topics. Each teacher in each school had di fferent motives for altering the official curriculum. Out of the three schools examined, the LSES sc hool deviated the most from the national curricular st ructure. Both of the sixth-grade teachers interviewed from this school were aware of this overt deviation, how ever, they believed that it was necessary, as their students did not arri ve in the sixth grade with th e knowledge they were supposed to have in that level. Furthermore, these te achers not only had to spend time in classroom covering material from lower levels, but als o, in comparison to the other schools, they had to spend a longer time teaching each topi c and reviewing material. On the other hand, none of the teachers at the MSES or HSES sc hools faced these problems; in fact, they modified the official curriculum to make the classroom content richer and to elaborate on the topics that interest the students or are applicable to contemporary events. The study shows that a difference in in structional resources automatically transformed into a difference in classroom experience. The students at the HSES and MSES schools have more resources in and out side the classroom that enhanced their educational experience. For instance, learni ng science was extremely different between the LSES and MSES/HSES schools, since the fo rmer did not have a science lab or any interactive materials. Furthermore, how we expect the students in all three schools to cover the same topics at the same depth when some of them do not even have textbooks? The findings of the study show that, by not providing the students with textbooks, following the same curricular course in all three schools was impossible. Having a textbook provided a structure for the course and allowed the student s to have access to

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190 the material outside the cla ssroom; however, we find that due to the costs of these books, the students at the LSES schools were deprived of this “privilege.” The results of the study also reveal that once the students fall behind with the material from other grade levels, the nationa l curriculum was useless because the teachers had to teach the material necessary to fill the knowledge gap; thus, it is necessary to examine, what caused the students at the LS ES school to be behind their grade level. Although my research did not pursue this questio n, the findings allude to various factors. First, the difference of resources in a nd outside the classroom affects the pace, familiarity, and the comprehension that the students have with the subject. Low-income students are less likely to have been exposed to reading material at home; hence, they have less practice at home and do not perform as well in school. Therefore, we see that a national curriculum begins to be altered due to the social realities of the students; when a first-grader is deprived of basic resour ces, her/his classroom involvement will be affected. A second factor influencing the achievemen t gap is that schools store the cultural form of the dominant classes and employ it as if everyone has access to it. Therefore, the LSES students, who came from lower social backgrounds and different levels of cultural capital, had to devote more classroom time adap ting to this cultural form. For instance, at the LSES school, the teachers mentioned that the students’ parents could not help them with the classroom material because they were not educated. Another example can be observed in the culturally diverse classr oom of the LSES school where the teacher devoted large portions of classroom time inculcating “basic” information about Argentinean culture that she felt was nece ssary cover before teaching more complex

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191 topics of the national curriculum. This put these students at a di sadvantage, since the students at the MSES and HS ES schools, who already ha d this cultural knowledge incorporated, were able to use their classroom time to cover the established sixth-grade topics. In addition, the national curriculum was designed by taking into consideration only the dominant groups’ educational expecta tions, as if every one values the same experiences equality. Since school expectations are also culturally constructed, the teachers at the diverse LSES classrooms faced having students who were more concerned with having a neat notebook than with comprehending its contents. Third, another contributing factor to the ach ievement gap is that each school had a hidden curriculum that interfered with the co verage of the official curriculum. Depending on the social background of the students, thei r classroom experiences in terms of values and norms taught varied. For instance, the st udy’s findings show that the students at the LSES schools were inculcated with collectiv ist values and nationalistic messages. In contrast, the students at the MS ES and HSES were taught to th ink critically about a social consciousness. Furthermore, this reveals that the national curriculum could not control how teachers instructed their classroom; the difference between active learning and passive learning also resulted in a different pace and depth of coverage of the material. Overall, based on the results of the st udy, it can be concluded that the national curriculum in Argentina did not contribute to educational equality. As a matter of fact, the concept of a national curriculum is misl eading, since it allowed for very different educational experiences. We cannot assume that without a national curriculum the experiences of the students at the public elementary sc hools would be more equal. However, the national curriculum contributes to the “marketization” of schools because it

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192 allows for the comparison of qualities and outcomes. Through the use of quality assessments, the national curriculum permits “co nsumers” to obtain the comparative data they need to select an educational institution. Additionally, having a national curriculum that allows the comparison of educational outcomes results in the implementation of approaches for principals and administrators to gather those students who would give them good reputations; these students tend to be those who come from a powerful economic, cultural, and social background. As I noted in the previous section, marketing education as a consumer good ultimately favors the dominant groups and exacerbates educational inequalities. When we think about a national curric ulum, we need to question which groups lead these reforms; whose and what logic de termines the kind of knowledge a student has to have at a particular age. Thus, the national curriculum reflec ts the interest and ideals of those who have the control and power to be in the positions to make these decisions. Assuming that knowledge is objective, schools do not have the capacity of teaching it all; therefore, who is to define what is legitimat e knowledge and what is be prioritized in the classroom? It is those who are already in powerful positions who get to decide what “legitimate knowledge” is to be taught in schools (Apple, 1979) Additionally, establishing a national curriculum does not mean that what occurs inside a classroom can be controlled. In fact, while a national curriculum is established to promote equality in educational experience, severa l other factors affecting ine quality in classroom dynamics are not covered; these include budget, resources and teachers’ qualifica tions. It would be idealistic to believe that one curriculum can be taught to students of different social and

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193 cultural backgrounds and that, rega rdless of their social realitie s and the resources of their schools, it will have the same out come and effect on every one. 7.4. Conclusion Schools in both Argentina and the Un ited States are political, economic, and social institutions that preserve and produ ce social inequalities. The policies and the structures of the school systems in both nations benefit the student and families that have the dominant group’s social, cu ltural, and economic capital. Within the schools, the complex classroom dynamics build and distribute knowledge in a way that legitimates social inequality and reinforces the students’ social status. In addition, the current educational polic ies in Argentina and the United States preserve and exacerbate educational inequali ties rather than ameliorating them. The current market-driven policies deteriorated the conditions of the already disadvantaged schools and favored those that have the resources to take advantage of such policies: the school-choice policies in the United States a nd the decentralization policies in Argentina resulted in a competition that benefited better positioned students. Along these lines, we have seen that th e implementation of a national curriculum in Argentina served a strategy to create th e educational market. They way in which the national curriculum was designed and impl emented did not make the educational experience more equal. Instead, having a natio nal curriculum allowed for the comparison of qualities and outcomes among schools. Therefor e, the parents who had the resources to exercise school choice could use this comp arative data to make their “purchase.” In addition, the national curriculum was designe d on the assumption that students have certain cultural and common knowledge. With the existing achievement gap, having a

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194 national curriculum was not able to create e quality in the contents covered in the classroom. Then, if a national curriculum is not an effective tool to achieve equality in educational opportunities, how else can schools become institutions that promote social mobility rather than reproduce in equalities? To answer this, we must first understand that schools are institutions that are part of a larger structure; this structure is deeply unequal, and this inequality is reflect ed in the schools. As we have seen from the findings on the educational inequality in the United States and in Argentina, the schools are as unequal as their society. We have seen in the chapter on the history of Argentina that, as the gap between the rich and the poor widened and the social problems became more severe, educational quality and achievement declined and educational ine quality surfaced. Thus, the school by itself cannot fix the inequality of the larger structure; in contrast, the school is a social construction of those who dominate the la rger structure. The correlation between social equality and positive educational outcomes can be observed in international education ra nkings. In the 2009 International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge of 15-year-olds in seventy countries around the world, the countries with mo st equality in the di stribution of wealth ranked the highest. For instance, Japan, Sweden, and Norway, which according to the 2007 GINI index were among the top five mo st-equal nations, ranked above-average for mathematics and reading skills (OECD, 2010; World Bank, 2009). In comparison, the United States ranked below-average for math ematics and average for reading skills: number fourteen out of the thirty-four OE CD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries for read ing skills, and number twenty-five out of

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195 the thirty-four OECD countries for mathematics (OECD, 2010). According to the 2009 PISA evaluation, Argentina was ranked as number fifty-eight for mathematics and reading skills out of the seventy particip ating countries (OECD, 2010). Furthermore, according to the “education for all” development index of 2005, which measures equality in quality and access to education, out of 126 countries, Norway was ranked number one, Sweden number four, and Argentina number tw enty-seven (neither Japan or the U.S. participated in this ranking) (UNESCO, 2008). Therefore, the correlation between soci al inequality and educational inequality allows us to see that similar to economic capital, knowledge is not distributed equally because those who control it need it to sustain their dominant positions. Yet, there are several implementations that could make the sc hool an institution th at promotes social mobility. First, in the short term, the State can employ policies that distribute resources more equally inside the schools; for instan ce, in Argentina, the national government could provide students with textbooks, thereby creating more equality in their educational experiences. In the long term, to answer how the school can serve as a social mobility tool, I lean towards Paulo Freire’s (1986) demo cratic proposals of a “problem-posing” education. Since the structure of the school is planned and controlled by the powerful groups, and used to retain their position, “it would be a contradiction in terms if the oppressors not only defended but actually impl emented a liberating education” (p. 54). The problem-posing method suggest s that it is in the power of the disadvantaged to achieve liberation; this met hod suggests that the disadvant aged people develop their own curriculum through “dialogue” and “critical re flection” between teacher and student:

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196 True dialogue cannot exis t unless the dialoguers enga ge in critical thinking, thinking which perceives reality as process, as transformation, rather than as a static entity. Without dialogue ther e is no communication, and without communication there can be no tr ue education. (Feire, 1986, p. 93) Through critical reflection and di alogue in the class, the students learn to perceive critically their position in society: “they come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in the process of transformation” (p. 12). The problem-posing education asks that students develop conscientizao (critical consciousness), by which they understand the oppressive element in their life in orde r to take action and change their oppressed position. As my study in Argentina and the empirical studies in the United States indicate, the educational expe riences of the low-income st udents do not involve reflection and forming a critical consciousness; thus, problem-posing education allows the students to receive the tools for critical conscious ness necessary to improve their lives.

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