Studying school quality, to fight inequality”

MIT News; May 9, 2012

Education has long been per­ceived as a great lev­el­er in the United States, pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties through­out soci­ety. But at a time of eco­nom­ic strug­gle, mil­lions of peo­ple are won­der­ing if the country’s schools can still pro­vide a plat­form for suc­cess.  “School qual­i­ty and human cap­i­tal are major issues on the American pol­i­cy agen­da,” says Josh Angrist, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, not­ing the empha­sis President Barack Obama placed on the issue dur­ing his most recent State of the Union address.  Yet it is hard for par­ents to make con­fi­dent deci­sions about the sub­ject. “A very dif­fi­cult ques­tion is find­ing out what is a good school for your child,” says Parag Pathak, a pro­fes­sor in MIT’s Department of Economics. Moreover, state and local civic lead­ers must con­tin­u­al­ly eval­u­ate schools as well.  That is one rea­son Angrist, Pathak and econ­o­mist David Autor have found­ed the School Effectiveness & Inequality Initiative (SEII), a new cen­ter at MIT giv­ing a home to diverse stud­ies of edu­ca­tion and its effects on Americans through­out their work­ing lives.”


By Peter Dizikes