Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Last to Know About Class

I am the last to know about last September 24th issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education much of which was devoted to class on campus. There are several interesting tidbits in the lead article by Peter Schmidt. As he notes, unlike other minority groups, low socioeconomic class people tend to try to "fit in." No serious statistics are kept but it is estimated that 36 percent of students in post high school programs are children of parents who did not attend college. They tend to be concentrated in lesser colleges, two year colleges and technical programs.
Schmidt and his sources say that socioeconomic class is no longer dismissed and is now"permissibly" to talk about. The idea that is Ok now to talk about class reminds of a conversation I had with a colleague several years ago. I asked him, "why not have a retreat and talk about class." His response, "Can't do that. It's too important." He captured it all right there. It was more important than all the other diversity concerns because it was the only one that could be accommodated without affecting the the elitist death grip on higher education.

Whatever hopeful signs the Chronicle reports to not appear to be found at law schools. The student body is already someone socioeconomically diverse, at least based on the students I know with crushing debts. Faculties, however, have not even begun to consider socioeconomic class diversity as anything to be taken seriously. Or maybe I have this wrong. Maybe as my friend suggested the reason it is ignored is because hiring committees and faculties do understand it's importance and it frightens them.

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