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Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education

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In this landmark volume, Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane lay out a meticulously researched case showing how—in a time of spiraling inequality—strategically targeted interventions and supports can help schools significantly improve the life chances of low-income children. The authors offer a brilliant synthesis of recent research on inequality and its effects on famili In this landmark volume, Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane lay out a meticulously researched case showing how—in a time of spiraling inequality—strategically targeted interventions and supports can help schools significantly improve the life chances of low-income children. The authors offer a brilliant synthesis of recent research on inequality and its effects on families, children, and schools. They describe the interplay of social and economic factors that has made it increasingly hard for schools to counteract the effects of inequality and that has created a widening wedge between low- and high-income students. Restoring Opportunity provides detailed portraits of proven initiatives that are transforming the lives of low-income children from prekindergarten through high school. All of these programs are research-tested and have demonstrated sustained effectiveness over time and at significant scale. Together, they offer a powerful vision of what good instruction in effective schools can look like. The authors conclude by outlining the elements of a new agenda for education reform. Restoring Opportunity is a crowning contribution from these two leading economists in the field of education and a passionate call to action on behalf of the young people on whom our nation’s future depends. Copublished with the Russell Sage Foundation


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In this landmark volume, Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane lay out a meticulously researched case showing how—in a time of spiraling inequality—strategically targeted interventions and supports can help schools significantly improve the life chances of low-income children. The authors offer a brilliant synthesis of recent research on inequality and its effects on famili In this landmark volume, Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane lay out a meticulously researched case showing how—in a time of spiraling inequality—strategically targeted interventions and supports can help schools significantly improve the life chances of low-income children. The authors offer a brilliant synthesis of recent research on inequality and its effects on families, children, and schools. They describe the interplay of social and economic factors that has made it increasingly hard for schools to counteract the effects of inequality and that has created a widening wedge between low- and high-income students. Restoring Opportunity provides detailed portraits of proven initiatives that are transforming the lives of low-income children from prekindergarten through high school. All of these programs are research-tested and have demonstrated sustained effectiveness over time and at significant scale. Together, they offer a powerful vision of what good instruction in effective schools can look like. The authors conclude by outlining the elements of a new agenda for education reform. Restoring Opportunity is a crowning contribution from these two leading economists in the field of education and a passionate call to action on behalf of the young people on whom our nation’s future depends. Copublished with the Russell Sage Foundation

53 review for Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    Useful quotes: "Although test scores of low-income children increased modestly between 1978 and 2008, scores of high-income children rose much more rapidly, resulting in a 35-point increase in the gap. In other words, in the last thirty years, the gap between the average scores of eighth-graders from high- and low-income families has increased by an amount equal to a year's worth of learning (16). Forty years ago, the difference between low-income and high-income family spending on enrichment act Useful quotes: "Although test scores of low-income children increased modestly between 1978 and 2008, scores of high-income children rose much more rapidly, resulting in a 35-point increase in the gap. In other words, in the last thirty years, the gap between the average scores of eighth-graders from high- and low-income families has increased by an amount equal to a year's worth of learning (16). Forty years ago, the difference between low-income and high-income family spending on enrichment activities was 4x. By 2006, high-income families spent 9x more. (28) Poverty is stressful; while "it is difficult to determine the extent to which poverty causes poor mental health and harsh parenting, since so many factors are associated with low family incomes," one study after the implementation of the earned income tax credit found that "mothers' reports of their mental health were more positive . . . the strain of low income takes a toll on maternal mental health. Analyzing data from blood samples, the researchers also found lower levels of biomarkers for maternal stress after the EITC expansions (29). The widening income gap is a problem: "income-boosting programs produced improvements in children's academic achievement in preschool and elementary school, while programs that only increased employment did not. A $3,000 increase in annual family income raised young children's achievement test scores by the equivalent of about 20 SAT points, on average -- equal to about two-thirds of the growth in test-score gap between richer and poorer children in the past three decades. (30). "NAEP shows that today low-income students' mastery of basic skills, particularly math, is somewhat superior to that of their counterparts forty years ago. The problem is that the skills of low-income students have kept pace neither with the skills of children in higher-income families, nor with the skills demanded by many jobs paying middle-class wages (37). Points to research on practices in low-income schools that successfully raise achievement: "focus on relentlessly improving instruction and making it consistent across classrooms and grade levels. They select well-educated teachers who believe that all of their students can succeed. They institute and monitor a schoolwide set of norms for student behavior. They assess student skills frequently, and use the results both to guide instructional improvement and to identify students in need of skill remediation after school. They act quickly to address any problems with academics or behavior." (75, cites several studies). Consistency is key: "for fourteen years, the University of Chicago CMO has maintained a consistent focus on improving the delivery of the balanced literacy curriculum. In that period, a typical urban school district would have had at least four superintendents, each of them likely to scrap prior initiatives and implement new ones" (81) Examples of small high schools of choice in New York City demonstrate "it is indeed possible to design high schools that improve the skills and graduation rates of low-income youth on a scale that goes beyond a handful of innovative examples, and in even the largest urban school districts." (87). In a literacy program of small high schools of choice, the students are not grouped by reading level; all read the same text together, though those at a lower reading level might read a two page summary written by the teachers rather than ten pages of the original text (95). (cites also James J. Kemple, _Career Academies: Long-term impacts on Labor Market Outcomes, Educational Attainment, and Transitions to Adulthood; Julie A. Edmunds et al., "Expanding the Start of the College Pipeline: Ninth grade Findings from an Experimental Study of the Impact of the Early College High School Model, " Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 5, no. 2 (2012) and Julie A. Edmunds et al, "Keeping Students in School: Impact of a High School Reform Model on Students' Enrollment and Progression in School (presented at AERA, 2011).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Provided by Councilmember Burgess in advance of our discussions on universal pre-K in Seattle. Academic, but not too academic, it moves through an explanation of why education reforms and investment in education (especially early learning) are still the key to a great future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy Enkuyar

  4. 5 out of 5

    Thalia

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    Kristine

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    Josie

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    Brooke

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    Andy

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    Rebecca Alvarez-Ramos

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    Darren Lipman

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    Armand

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Piscopo

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    Arleen Henton

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    Jackie

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    Bridgette Davis

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    Mary V

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    David Jacobson

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    Jennifer

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    Francie

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    Melanie

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    Brittany C.

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    Cameron

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    Bethannd

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Daniels-Hall

  25. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

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    Ashley Floyd

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Atkinson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda Nicholas

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anam Farooqui

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  31. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  32. 4 out of 5

    Littlehubby

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    Alexis

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    Rory Steele

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    Patricia

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    Rachel Friedman

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    Dede Smith

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    Eric Kalenze

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    Cynthia

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    Nancy Wenande

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    Christina Whittle

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    diane

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    Rachel Zimmerman

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    Reilly

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    Rolf

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    Kristen

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    Caroline

  51. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah

  52. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Koester

  53. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

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