I just received an announcement about this very relevant conference that is being held at Drexel University College of Medicine on Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 9 am - 4 pm. Regisration is free. Please see the website for more information.
The playing field in America is definitely not level, but I believe that education is not at fault. Education is something everyone should acquire because it allows people to further themselves in life. For instance, in Shorris' study where he gave lower class a basic education, it allowed them to continue on to college and hold their own. However, even though many people are becoming education, those who "make it" or find the level where they can compete with others in life, have certain characteristics that allow them to reach this place, and its not their level of education. It is money and connections. Shorris' students, although they did not have money, found the connections through his program that allowed them to continue onto college and make a name for themselves. Other students have money. The ability to pay for college automatically puts that person ahead of one who cannot afford an education. And even on a smaller scale with kids in the same school district, some parents may be able to afford to send them on community service trips or pay for music lessons. The ability to pay for these things is basically the ability to buy yourself into college, because it is these things, the extra circulars, that make a difference in the college application. Basically, the playing field really can't be leveled when personal finances come into play.
My final project was a collaborative one with cr88, in which we created word clouds of the full texts of The Plague and The Origin of Species to look at 1) the differences and commonalities between scientific and literary texts, as embodied by this bizarre representational form, and 2) different forms of literary analysis outside of the ones we are used to and how they can be useful. These were the images we produced:
The Origin of Species