Thought I’d share the first draft of an essay for a sociology class I am taking:



James Adams first mentioned “The American Dream” in 1931, he wrote “That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” From a functionalist sociological perspective we see that society is one interconnected “entity.”  In that interconnectedness each branch affects all other branches.  One key to ensuring the American Dream for all is education.  I propose this means that lack of education is a social problem 

Kornblum and Julian (2007) argue that social problems are issues related to society that impact upon our quality of life.  If enough people agree then an issue is a social problem.  They also argue that social problems seldom exist in isolation.  Lack of education arguably can lead to many social problems.  Poor education can lead to crime, poverty, drug use and sexual risk taking. America as a whole is failing their citizens when it comes to education.  Andrew Coulson (2005) writes “The notion that America’s public school problems are confined to inner cities, and that our wealthy suburbs produce world-beating high school graduates is a myth. It’s time we resolve to do better.” President Bush coined the term “No child left behind.”  The U.S. department of education website states “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — the main federal law affecting education from kindergarten through high school.  Proposed by President Bush shortly after his inauguration, NCLB was signed into law on January 8th, 2002.  NCLB is built on four principles: accountability for results, more choices for parents, greater local control and flexibility, and an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research. “Perhaps education is being recognized as a social problem?

Sexual risk taking is prevalent amongst the poorly educated.  John Stoltenberg in his study “Of Microbes and Manhood” mentions how poor education has led to a culture of misinformation.  Non vaginal sexual interaction becomes “safe” and disease free.  Contraceptives also are deemed less masculine.  In a culture where education is frowned upon, and stupidity is embraced, sexual interaction has become one of fear and kept in hushed silence.  The sheer outrage produced by Janet Jackson’s nipple on live television only serves to demonstrate the sheer cultural fear of sex, sexuality and actually educating people.  The government currently pays schools to promote abstinence based programs.  “Friedrichs is aghast that New York City schools only require 10 hours of HIV/AIDS prevention education.” (Bussel, 2005). Tax dollars are given to places that do not provide adequate sexual education.  “Mentioning teens and sex in the same sentence, if you’re not condemning them, often has negative consequences. Judith Levine, whose book Harmful to Minors (University of Minnesota Press, 2002) argued that children and teens can enjoy sexual pleasure safely, received death threats, and Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was let go in 1994 after she advocated that masturbation be taught in schools.” (Bussel, 2005).

Poor education is arguably at the heart of many great American social problems. A culture that embraces stupidity and frowns upon intelligence helps this social problem grow. Teachers, instead of being elevated to a position of social greatness are devalued and underpaid. Teaching is seen as something you are called to do, much like a priest, not as a viable career path. Education and lack of it, can lead to so many social problems. Crime, poverty, sexual attitudes and practices all of these things are effected by education.  Without education the poor remain poor; criminal are unable to read and write and sexual misinformation leads to unwanted pregnancy and disease. If America and Americans really are to live the American dream the cycle of poor education must stop. For the sake of America“No Child Left Behind” must no longer remain as empty words.


Bussel, Rachel retrieved February 10 2008 from http://villagevoice.com

Coulson, Andrew (2005), A fair comparison: U.S. students lag in math and science, retrieved February 19 2008 from http://www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.aspx?ID=7036

Kornblum, William  and Julian, Joseph (2007), Research on Social Problems

The U.S. department of education (2008), retrieved February 19 2008 from http://answers.ed.gov/cgi-bin/education.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=4



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