Reber Highlights Educational Disparities in New Publication

Associate Professor of Public Policy Sarah Reber collaborated with Nora Gordon of Georgetown University on “Addressing Inequities in the US K-12 Education System,” a chapter of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group publication “Rebuilding the Post-Pandemic Economy.” Reber and Gordon explore disparities in educational outcomes by race, ethnicity, economic disadvantage and disability. “American public schools do not successfully prepare all students for careers or college,” they wrote. “Despite decades of federal and state policy reforms and major philanthropic investments, there are still glaring deficiencies and inequities across the US K-12 education system.” Reducing inequities in American education “will require a renewed focus on the ‘fundamentals’ of the K-12 system, including an emphasis on how staff are trained, recruited, retained and supported in their work; the effective design of curriculum; and the maintenance of safe and healthy school buildings,” they wrote. In the chapter, Reber and Gordon highlight three principles to guide future efforts to improve K-12 schools: First, they recommend focusing on the key elements of how to effectively deliver educational content to all students, including class size, access to necessary technologies and supplies, and a strong core curriculum. Next, they suggest increasing the emphasis on vulnerable students, including students with disabilities, English learners and American Indian students. Finally, they note that school leaders should encourage the thoughtful adoption of strategies that have been shown to work. “We should learn from past efforts to improve the impact of educational policy and philanthropy going forward, with careful attention to strengthening the research base,” they concluded.

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