“The shadow of caste falls over the school in Southerntown no less than over the courthouse and the church. Control of the schools and school opportunities is a crucial matter to American citizens and has long been viewed as such. Mass education is in the American mores and it is the door which has traditionally been open to those seeking to better their social status. It is this fact that has made the education of the young one of our major occupations and has led to the high value we place on schools and schooling. The symbol of the schoolhouse is the public guarantee that American society is actually offering the equality of opportunity which is the pivotal conception in our social order.”
– from the chapter, “Caste Patterning of Education,” in Caste and Class in a Southern Town by John Dollard. This passage comes from the 1949 third edition; the book was originally published in 1937.