USA/ 14 May, 2021/ Source/ https://www.nytimes.com/
Graphs about income, education, health care and the pandemic can help students think critically about stubborn and growing inequalities in American society.
Inequalities, by definition, involve a comparison between two or more things. In math, we can easily express inequalities with simple mathematical sentences, such as x<y. But how can we illustrate complicated inequalities deeply entrenched in our society that are often hidden from plain sight behind segregated neighborhoods, schools of varying quality and different health care systems? Graphs are one powerful tool.
In this teaching resource, we have gathered 28 New York Times graphs that relate to social inequalities in income, education and health care, many of which are exacerbated by issues of race and gender. We have also gathered examples that show how the coronavirus pandemic both laid bare and widened these disparities. We hope teachers across the curriculum will be able to use this collection to help students think critically about American society.
To support teachers, we have created a lesson plan to guide individual students or whole classes — as well as a glossary of terms (PDF) — as they explore this collection. Throughout the lesson, students practice the analysis skills we use in our weekly “What’s Going On in This Graph?” feature using the following four questions:
What do you notice?
What do you wonder?
What impact does this have on you and your community?
What do you think is going on in this graph? Write a headline that captures the graph’s main idea.
In the lesson, students also have the opportunity to interact with these graphs, for example by inputting their own school district, and to read other students’ observations and add their own comments.
When you’re ready to get started, you can find four categories of graphs below. For each graph we have provided a key question, as well as a list of related definitions.
The United States is getting wealthier — the economy has doubled in size in the last four decades. But not everyone has benefited equally from those gains. In this 2020 piece, David Leonhardt and Yaryna Serkez write, “A small portion of the population has pocketed most of the new wealth, and the coronavirus pandemic is laying bare the consequences of the unequal distribution of prosperity.”
What story do the graphs below tell about income growth and economic mobility? What additional questions do these graphs raise?
Whose net worth increased the most from 1989 to 2016?
See the top of this post.
How has net worth changed over time for different generations?