Why Cal State L.A. turns the most low-income students into top earners

Mar 19, 2018 by

Sure, a degree from Harvard or Stanford can change a low-income student’s future. But consider the twist in this story by Josh Kenworthy: It turns out that public education, done right, is actually better at hoisting low-income kids into high-paying jobs. – Yvonne Zipp, EqualEd Editor

Josh Kenworthy –

In many ways, George Pla is the embodiment of the American dream.

The son of Mexican immigrants, Mr. Pla moved to Los Angeles’s Boyle Heights neighborhood at 5 years old. One of five children growing up on the $100 a month his father earned doing construction work in the 1950s, Pla says he always dreamed of attending “the college on the hill.”

That college was California State University, Los Angeles, a mid-tier public university that he credits with his rapid ascent up the income ladder.

“Without Cal State L.A., I’m nowhere,” says Pla, who initially got his foot in the door at an East Los Angeles community college. After two years he transferred to Cal State, where he graduated in 1972 before going on to get a graduate degree in public finance from the University of Southern California.

Today, Pla is the founder and CEO of a nationally recognized civil engineering firm, Cordoba Corp. He employs more than 200 people and builds major infrastructure projects for California’s transportation, education, water, and energy sectors. With a base salary of more than $1 million a year, Pla’s story and others like it are held up as the pinnacle of the American Dream. His alma mater, Cal State, Los Angeles, launches more low-income kids into the top income bracket than Harvard, according to a new study by a group of high-level academics working under the title The Equality of Opportunity Project.

For decades, “working-class” colleges like Cal State have been one of the more reliable engines of economic mobility. And, the new research shows, public higher education systems like those in California, Texas, and New York still push low-income kids into the top echelon of earners at far higher rates than the eight Ivy League colleges, plus the University of Chicago, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Duke University. (The researchers called this the “Ivy-Plus.”)

Continued: Why Cal State L.A. turns the most low-income students into top earners – CSMonitor.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.