Education is considered a fundamental human right that every American citizen is entitled to. The right to attain education by Americans is reinforced by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Education is considered a social mobility ladder through which every citizen can achieve their economic goals. However, class inequality has failed to fulfill these rights in the United States, as demonstrated in the case of Hallway Hangers and the Brothers.
The Hallways Hangers and the Brothers give a representation of the American social setting. The two groups of boys grew up in the same living conditions but with different expectations and aspirations attributed to their racial backgrounds. The Brothers who were African Americans believed that the challenges they face in America originated from their slave ancestors and were due to racism (ChallengingMedia, 2008). As a result, they seemed to display behaviors that were acceptable in society, and they had higher expectations and aspirations. On the other side, Hallways comprised white boys whose behaviors were opposite to those of the Brothers. The behaviors of Hallways boys were socially unacceptable and included drinking and use of drugs. They stopped going to school due to a loss of hope in society; thus, their expectations and aspirations were never high. Though they exhibited different characteristics, Hallway Hangers and the Brothers remained in poor living conditions due to societal barriers placed on them, blocking them from succeeding.
The United States has not fulfilled the right of education for Hallways and the Brothers due to inequality in the education system. Inequality has used education to block the social mobility of these two groups (PBS Black Culture Connection, 2013). Although education is a fundamental right, the United States’ society treats children differently based on their parents’ economic status (Orfield et al., 2012). Low-income students are perceived to be less knowledgeable and thus are not given the opportunity to access the quality education necessary for the acquisition of beneficial skills. These children often experience challenges securing high-level jobs as they lack adequate training and education compared to their peers who hail from higher-income backgrounds.
According to Aisch et al. (2017), the creation of public and private schools by the American education system confirms the inequality in American society. The system of public and private schools discriminates against children from low-income backgrounds who cannot afford to learn in private schools or even live within these schools’ vicinity (Hoffman, 2014). The persistent inequality in American society has made it impossible for the United States to fulfill these rights.
Social reproductive theorists have also used the mechanism by which the rich become richer to explain the United States’ failure to fulfill the right of education in the country. Some of these theorists have argued that the U.S. as a capitalist society has used schools to produce skilled labor, legitimize the meritocracy, reinforce stratified status groups, and train the wealthy to manage the poor (Kozol, 2005). These theorists have also related schools’ power relations to the broader societal influence that an individual can attain. They suggest that schools which serve working-class communities are disciplined and emphasize behavioral control. In contrast, schools that serve middle-class communities are more open and focus on the students’ independence.
The Hallways and the Brothers reflect the inequality in American society and how such differences contribute to the failure of the United States to fulfill its dream of making education a fundamental right for every child. The United States’ children still have differences in their expectations and aspirations due to the dissimilarities imposed on them by society. The United States has, therefore, not fulfilled the right for education for the Hallway Hangers and the Brothers.
Aisch, G., Buchanan, L., Cox, A., & Quealy, K. (2017). Some colleges have more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60. Find yours. The New York Times. Web.
ChallengingMedia (2008). Jonathan Kozol: Education in America (2 of 6) [Video]. Web.
Hoffman, S. (2014). Zero benefit: Estimating the effect of zero tolerance discipline polices on racial disparities in school discipline. Educational Policy, 28(1), 69-95.
Kozol, J. (2005). Still separate, still unequal. Harper’s Magazine, 311(1864), 41.
Orfield, G., Kucsera, J., & Siegel-Hawley, G. (2012). E pluribus… separation: Deepening double segregation for more students [PDF document]. Web.
PBS Black Culture Connection (2013). The March @50 Episode 3, Still Segregated [Video]. Web.