The disturbing news of 50 influential and wealthy parents employing bribery to ensure their children’s admission to prestigious universities hit us hard at Horizon. This scandal may only highlight a select few, a couple million dollars, but the implications of how privilege informs success reaches very far and very wide.
Blatant cheating on tests and falsified athletic abilities aside, low income students have objectively less resources when it comes to excelling at standardized tests. Wealthy students can afford expensive private tutors and/or supplemental test prep courses that the underprivileged cannot. Focus must be put on equipping all students, specifically those who cannot pay their way into a prosperous future, with skills to succeed.
Education in America, something we at Horizon believe is a right, has become a profitable business. As long as there are spikes in tuition costs, as long as there are families or financial institutions willing to pay for it, business will continue to boom. Because a college education is often necessary for even entry level positions in the job market, those who cannot afford to attend or even prepare for college are at high risk of getting stuck in a systematic cycle of being undervalued, underemployed, and underpaid.
Right now, Horizon Education and Khan Academy are the leading programs designed to assist lower income students in test prep and college readiness. Though we are genuinely happy to see that other organizations value what we do, we believe there are significant benefits to Horizon’s program. Khan’s curriculum is 100% online and self-directed. In comparison, Horizon employs and trains educators from each school site to implement a customized grant- or government-funded program. Having a well-trained, invested teacher to interact with both the material and students is crucial to ACT/SAT success rates and knowledge retention.