The impacts on Maddie’s working-class life
The United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is well-known a place where everyone has an equal opportunity to become educated. However, most people don’t notice that access to education in America is for everybody, but the quality of education people get determines how successful they are in the real world. Especially for the current generation, people who are from the upper class have more opportunities to obtain a higher quality of education—such as exposure to hi-tech and up to date teaching models—than those who are from the working class. In “Making it in America”, Adam Davidson, an American journalist focusing on business and economics issues for National Public Radio, brings up the major issues—the effects of the industrial growth in America and the impacts of social class—which can determine whether or not someone can make it in America. What happened to Madelyn “Maddie” Parlier—a single mom who works at a factory—demonstrates the harsh consequences for those who come from working-class family. One of Maddie’s main worries is that she may lose her factory job because she lacks knowledge and skills. Also, hi-tech is now taking the place of manual labor as companies replace workers with robots and computers. In her youth, Maddie did make some bad decisions, but mainly she has grown up in poverty in America, and this uncontrolled element has caused most of her problems.
Although it’s true that the uncontrolled elements of being born in poverty have been a big influence in Maddie’s life, it’s also true that Maddie’s own decisions also led her to become a low-wage employee. Even though Maddie was not born in a happy family with both parents—because her father left home when she was young and died in a car accident—she still had a strong ambition to seek the American dream, which is to go to college and end up with a middle-class job. Maddie chose not to use drugs or hang out with bad kids at school. However, at the age of seventeen, Maddie got to know a boy who taught her how to get involved with other “cool” kids and brought her to those places only “cool” kids occupied. Everything was on right track until Maddie got pregnant. Maddie decided to have her child even though interrupting her education could cause a lot of damage to her future (Davidson 335, 336). Obviously, Maddie had to stop her education since she could not bear the cost of both tuition and day-care at the same time. Again, Maddie’s decision which has stopped her education still affects her life. Maddie worries about letting her two children alone at night while she is taking class (Davidson 334), which prevents her from seeking higher education and getting trained in “level-2 skill”. If Maddie had continued to study and taken the chance to go to college, she would not have ended up working at the factory and be worried about being replaced by machines.
Despite the fact that Maddie has made some undesirable decisions in her life, even those people from the working class or below like Maddie do not have access to a good education. For instance, Gregory Mantsios, the founder and director of the Joseph S. Murphy Institution for Worker Education at SPS, argues: “School performance (grades and test scores) and educational attainment (level of schooling completed) also correlate strongly with economic class” (293). Mantsios precisely indicates that the higher social status that one has, the higher educational level one can reach. For example, Maddie does not have many choices like which school to study because where she lives is a small town in South Carolina—which has few good schools. Even though Maddie does her best to reach the American dream by studying hard, dreaming about going to college, and about having a steady and middle-class job, she does not have the equal right to get good education because the gap between the schools in poor communities and in rich communities is getting...
Cited: Colombo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle, eds. Rereading America. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.
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