Paul Attewell

Paul Attewell is a professor of sociology at the City University of New York's Graduate School.

Recent Articles

Mirage of Meritocracy

A fter years of relative quiet, America's educational system is coming under renewed pressure over issues of fairness, access, and privilege. As competition intensifies over entry to college, it becomes harder to believe the system's rhetoric of merit and equity. Some students and their families are litigating over AP courses, high school funding, and affirmative action. Others turn to tutors or prep courses, or seek exam dispensations for learning disabilities. Every group feels victimized by the status quo, maintaining that others are gaining unfair advantage. These disputes reflect powerful demographic and fiscal pressures that are making it far more difficult for high school graduates to get into popular colleges. After shrinking in the late 1980s, America's school-age population is now growing quickly. Today, there are nearly 16 million 14- to 17-year-olds, up from 13 million in 1990. Roughly half a million extra students have been graduating from high school per year, and this...