The SAT and socioeconomics

There is something profoundly disturbing about this statistic quoted in today's NY Times:
At a time when selective colleges and universities are working harder to enroll more low-income students, the scores showed once again that disadvantaged students did least well on the College Board's exams. Students from families with incomes of $10,000 to $20,000, for example, earned an average verbal score of 443 and an average math score of 463. Students from families with incomes above $100,000 scored more than 100 points higher: their average verbal score was 554, and their average math score 565.
An incredible indictment of the American public education system, here is the proof that we have created a system that favors those who are already prepared to do well and leaves everyone else behind. If you come from money, was born to parents who have attended college, then you are already well on your way to academic success, and then success in life. If you are born poor, if your parents never had the opportunity to roam the halls of accademia, then too bad for you.

Education, we have been told for years, is the master key that opens every door. If you lack the money to higher tutors and take SAT prep course, if your parents lack the knowledge to guide you, to push you to take the right course, you will have to go through life keyless. No doors open, and you are stuck in the same cycle of poverty into which you were born.

The problem is public schools don't push kids to be better. They accept them as they are, instead of treating them as clay that is yet to be formed. How do we break this cycle? Stop worrying about students self-esteem, athletics, and extracurriculars, and raise the academic expectations. Make academic excellence the goal for every students, and provide the support for those whose parents can't afford it, and this SAT gap will begin to disappear.