The role of elite schools in maintaining elite power from one generation to the next

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

Interesting article:

Elite schools spend a considerable amount of time and resources projecting a positive public image. Their image is necessary for legitimizing the elite status that they enjoy and all the advantages that come along with that status. Silence is necessary to maintain this image. All the not-so-good parts must remain hidden to continue being viewed as the best of the best.

This positive image obfuscates the real purpose of elite schools: From their inception, the core function of elite schools is to make, remake, or advance the socioeconomic status of each student. They provide students access to a social circuit that allows them to go from one elite institution to another and eventually on to high-paying and high-power positions.

Within this circuit, elite schools cultivate privilege — a lens through which students come to understand themselves, others, and the world around them. Students’ values, perspectives, assumptions, and actions are shaped and sustained through this lens. It helps them survive and thrive within the elite circuit.

Above all, these lessons teach students that hierarchies are not only natural but necessary. They learn that there is a winner and therefore a loser in every situation and interaction. Hierarchies enable and propel them to success. Their success, it is worth noting, always comes at the expense of others.

As a teacher once told me during my research: “The most important thing we do here is prepare our students to become tough competitors. Competition is not a dirty word at our school. There are winners and there are losers. We teach them to be the former.”

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