The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Low income students lack job aspirations, author of Silicon Valley study says

photo courtesy of Elsa Davidson

Author and cultural anthropologist Elsa Davidson presented her findings on youth aspirations based on socioeconomic status at De Anza College May 17.

Davidson chose to investigate social inequalities because of her experience in working in low-income neighborhoods and learning about the social inequalities that exist.

She wrote a book about her comparative findings in “The Burden of Aspiration: Schools, Youth, and Success in the Divided Social Worlds of Silicon Valley.” Davidson focused on two high schools in her book; Morton High School in San Jose, a public school with low and middle income Mexican-American and Vietnamese-American students and Sanders High School in Palo Alto, where students are predominantly white and Asian and only 8 percent qualify for reduced lunch. 

 “I grew up in Silicon Valley,” said Davidson. “I grew up in Palo Alto. After college, I worked in community health in Silicon Valley and particularly worked in HIV education and also reproductive health in low income Latino community clinic and so I was aware of incredible social inequality in Silicon Valley.” 

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Davidson chose to research Morton and Sanders because of their differences in budgets and corporate involvement.  

“I was looking for two very different kinds of schools and also looking at questions of what the budgets were at I also wanted to pick an educational context that had formal corporate involvement in work force development issues and I found a school that had that,” Davidson said.

In her study, Davidson found that the Morton students were less motivated to become job creators and to be defined by their jobs. 

But Sanders students were more individualistic and defined themselves by the jobs they wanted such as being an entrepreneur or astrophysicists.  

Music major Anthony Guarino said, “As a person who went to a school like Morton, I knew of the sort of inequalities she was talking about, but it became more plain to see when someone else was talking about it and showing me the statistics.”


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