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The podcast “Three Miles”

The podcast “Three Miles” tells the story of students from a public high school in the Bronx, New York—one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country—who visited an elite private high school three miles away. Then it recounts what happened to them over the next ten years. The excerpt from the book, Stagnant Dreamers, reports on Maria Rendon’s interviews with working class Latino men in Los Angeles. Surprisingly, Professor Rendon found that men who had little contact with people outside their working-class neighborhood were more likely to believe in the American Dream of individual hard work and determination leading to success than were those who were exposed to middle-class standards of living.

Respond to some combination of them. First, does being exposed to the fruits of the American Dream–being exposed to people who have “made it”–necessarily work? That is, were Melanie, Raquelle, and Jonathan well-served by their “exposure” to an affluent school? Were the young men in Los Angeles well-served by venturing out of their neighborhoods? Why or why not? Second, can we see in the experience, especially of Jonathan, some of the effects of the middle-class advantage in education? And third, if you were a policymaker in Washington, DC, and you were inspired by Melanie, Raquelle, and Jonathan’s experiences, what kinds of policies would you try to pass?