Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances

Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances

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As the incomes of affluent and poor families have diverged over the past three decades, so too has the educational performance of their children. But how exactly do the forces of rising inequality affect the educational attainment and life chances of low-income children? In Whither Opportunity? a distinguished team of economists, sociologists, and experts in social and education policy examines the corrosive effects of unequal family resources, disadvantaged neighborhoods, insecure labor markets, and worsening school conditions on K-12 education. This groundbreaking book illuminates the ways rising inequality is undermining one of the most important goals of public education—the ability of schools to provide children with an equal chance at academic and economic success. The most ambitious study of educational inequality to date, Whither Opportunity? analyzes how social and economic conditions surrounding schools affect school performance and children’s educational achievement. The book shows that from earliest childhood, parental investments in children’s learning affect reading, math, and other attainments later in life. Contributor Meredith Phillip finds that between birth and age six, wealthier children will have spent as many as 1,300 more hours than poor children on child enrichment activities such as music lessons, travel, and summer camp. Greg Duncan, George Farkas, and Katherine Magnuson demonstrate that a child from a poor family is two to four times as likely as a child from an affluent family to have classmates with low skills and behavior problems – attributes which have a negative effect on the learning of their fellow students. As a result of such disparities, contributor Sean Reardon finds that the gap between rich and poor children’s math and reading achievement scores is now much larger than it was fifty years ago. And such income-based gaps persist across the school years, as Martha Bailey and Sue Dynarski document in their chapter on the growing income-based gap in college completion. Whither Opportunity? also reveals the profound impact of environmental factors on children’s educational progress and schools’ functioning. Elizabeth Ananat, Anna Gassman-Pines, and Christina Gibson-Davis show that local job losses such as those caused by plant closings can lower the test scores of students with low socioeconomic status, even students whose parents have not lost their jobs. They find that community-wide stress is most likely the culprit. Analyzing the math achievement of elementary school children, Stephen Raudenbush, Marshall Jean, and Emily Art find that students learn less if they attend schools with high student turnover during the school year – a common occurrence in poor schools. And David Kirk and Robert Sampson show that teacher commitment, parental involvement, and student achievement in schools in high-crime neighborhoods all tend to be low. For generations of Americans, public education provided the springboard to upward mobility. This pioneering volume casts a stark light on the ways rising inequality may now be compromising schools’ functioning, and with it the promise of equal opportunity in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610447515
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 572
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

GREG J. DUNCAN is distinguished professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine. RICHARD J. MURNANE is Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Table of Contents

Contents Contributors Acknowledgments Foreword Part I: Overview Chapter 1. Introduction: The American Dream, Then and Now - Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane Part II: The Developing Child and Adolescent Chapter 2. Lessons from Neuroscience Research for Understanding Casual Links Between Family and Neighborhood Characteristics and Educational Outcomes - Charles A. Nelson III and Margaret A. Sheridan Chapter 3. The Nature and Impact of Early Achievement Skills, Attention Skills, and Behavior Problems - Greg J. Duncan and Katherine Magnuson Chapter 4. Middle and High School Skills, Behaviors, Attitudes, and Curriclulum Enrollment, and Their Consequences - George Farkas Chapter 5. The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations - Sean F. Reardon Chapter 6. Inequality in Postsecondary Education - Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski Chapter 7. Educational Expectations and Attainment - Brian A. Jacob and Tamara Wilder Linkow Part III: The Family Chapter 8. Educational Mobility in the United States Since the 1930s - Michael Hout Alexander Januz Chapter 9. How Is Family Income Related to Investments in Children's Learning? - Neeraj Kaushal, Katherine Magnuson, and Jane Waldfogel Chapter 10. Parenting, Time Use, and Disparities in Academic Outcomes - Meredith Phillps Chapter 11. Family-Structure Instability and Adolescent Educational Outcomes: A Focus on Families with Stepfathers - Megan M. Sweeney Part IV: Neighborhoods Chapter 12: Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children's Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison - Julia Burdick-Will, Jens Ludwig, Stephen W. Raudenbush, Robert J. Sampson, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, and Patric Chapter 13. Unpacking Neighborhood Influences on Education Outcomes: Setting the Stage for Future Research - David Harding, Lisa Gennetian, Christopher Winship, Lisa Sanbonmatsu, and Jeffrey Kling Part V: Labor Markets Chapter 14. The Effects of Local Employment Losses on Children's Educational Achievement - Elizabeth O. Ananat, Anna Gassman-Pines, and Christina M. Gibson-Davis Chapter 15. How Does Parental Unemployment Affect Children's Educational Performance? - Phillip B. Levine Part VI: Schools Chapter 16. The Role of Family, School, and Community Characteristics in Inequality in Education and Labor-Market Outcomes - Joseph G. Altonji and Richard K. Mansfield Chapter 17. Year-by-Year and Cumulative Impacts of Attending a High-Mobility Elementary School on Children's Mathematics Achievement in Chicago, 1995 to 2005 - Stephen Raudenbush, Marshall Jean, and Emily Art Chapter 18. The Effect of School Neighborhoods on Teachers' Carrer Decisions - Don Boyd, Hamp Lankforford, Susanna Loeb, Matthew Ronfeldt, and Jim Wyckoff Chapter 19. Crime and the Production of Safe Schools - David S. Kirk and Robert J. Sampson Chapter 20. Immigrants and Inequality in Public Schools - Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefel Chapter 21. School Desegregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap - Jacob L. Vigdor Chapter 22. The Challenges of Finding Casual Links Between Family Educational Practices and Schooling Outcomes - Frank F. Furstenberg Chapter 23. It May Not Take a Village Increasing Achievement Among the Poor - Vilsa E. Curto, Roland G. Fryer Jr. , and Meghan L. Howard Chapter 24. Understanding the Context for Existing Reform and Research Proposals - Harry Brighouse and Gina Schouten Chapter 25. Intervening to Improve the Educational Outcomes of Students in High-Poverty Schools - Brian Rowan Index

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