With the expansion of education over the last twentieth century, more American's have had access to schooling. Recently, educational attainment is increasingly shaped by many aspects of American lives and the more and less educated have moved apart in income, wealth, and family life. Therefore the surge in education has led to a separation in who has access to education as well as the different levels of education. Due to educational disparities brought on by social class and income, as well as race, gender, stratification, and socioeconomic factors and economic returns on education, the U.S. education system continues to be a vehicle for social reproduction instead of mobility.
As exemplified by Durkheim, education has consisted of both a civic and vocational role over the past century. The function of education has been to socialize and integrate individuals into a larger society, all while acting as a moral authority and making schools critical to society (Durkheim 2007). The current system of U.S. higher education is devoted to over schooling and under education and seriously under investing in families of poverty, all of which contribute to socioeconomic inequalities (Grubb and Lazerson, 2004). Class structure provides evidence to the socioeconomic inequalities brought on by the U.S. educational system. Reardon states that the achievement gap between children form high and low income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty five years earlier (Reardon, 2011). The attainment gap can be associated with the direct and indirect affects of family income on a child's access to education. Economic stability, such as good nutrition to a clean environment, is important because it provides kids with what they need to succeed. Meanwhile, low-income families have a variety of health related problems and a possible lack of health insurance that can increase disadvantages and withhold educational attainment (Lecture, 1/23/14).