The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills, 1956, Excerpts
The one deep experience that distinguishes the social rich from the merely rich and those below is their schooling, and with it, all the associations, the sense and sensibility, to which this educational routine leads throughout their lives. Each stage of this education is important to the formation of the upper-class man or woman; it is an educational sequence that is common to the upper classes in all the leading cities of the nation.
As a selection and training place of the upper classes, both old and new, the private school is a unifying influence, a force for the nationalization of the upper classes. The school – rather than the upper-class family – is the most important agency for transmitting the traditions of the upper social classes and regulating the admission of the new wealth and talent. It is the characterizing point in the upper-class experience. In the top fifteen or twenty such schools, one finds a prime organizing center of the national upon social classes. For in these private schools for adolescents, the religious and family and educational tasks of the upper social classes are fused, and in them the major tasks of upholding such standards as prevail in these classes are centered.