Growing income inequality threatens American education

Greg J. Duncan, and Richard J. Murnane, Phi Delta Kappan March 2014 vol. 95 no. 6 8-14

The first of two articles in consecutive months describes the origins and nature of growing income inequality, and some of its consequences for American children. It documents the increased family income inequality that’s occurred over the past 40 years and shows that the increased income disparity has been more than matched by an expanding gap between the amounts of money that low- and high-income parents spend on enrichment activities for their children. It also shows that the growth in income inequality has been accompanied by increasing gaps in academic achievement. The article draws from the first part of the author’s recent book, Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education (Harvard Education Press and the Russell Sage Foundation, 2014).

The second part to the series, also drawn from Restoring Opportunity, describes ideas based on proven policy approaches that will enable the country to make progress on the enormous task of restoring the educational opportunities that children from low-income families need if they are to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

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