Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education 

Kathryn Paige Harden 

Since the 1960s, white Americans without a college degree are dying from alcholism, overdoses, or even suicides. College education is proven to produce a better lifestyle for not only yourself, but to provide for your family. New research has now found that college graduation is partly the outcome of a "genetic lottery."  A study in Nature Genetics analyzed genes of a million people with European ancestry and found thousands of DNA variants that are correlated with educational attainment, called a polygenic score. "The genetic disparity in college completion is as big as the disparity between rich and poor students in America" (Harden, 2018).
However, there is not much data on racial disparities in education and they have not been able to predict educational outcomes based on race. This topic can be confused with the negativity surrounding eugenics, but it is not to be mistaken that genetics confirms racialized heirarchy of human worth; however it does create the argument that applying genetics to education might "intensify social inequalities". This article says that we should instead be asking "How can the power of  genomic revolution be harnessed to create a more equal society?".
No one earns their DNA sequence, therefore it is "genetic luck" that we can benefit from our genes and earn more money, more success, more security by being able to go to college and it is frankly unfair. Knowing which genes are associated with education can create a more equal society and be able to understand how different environments can affect success. This idea does not follow the dark eugenic ideas that embryos should be screened but by using the polygenic score, we can research how environments shape children's lives. "We can't change someone's genes, but we can try to change how she grows up" (Harden, 2018).


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