Mounting evidence reveals that millions of children in the United States have been systematically deprived access to quality educational resources, such as experienced teachers, a rich and rigorous curriculum, and quality preschools and after-schools.
This “opportunity gap,” experts say, has resulted in a split-level educational system that favors the affluent and privileged and shortchanges the future of many poor, minority and immigrant children.
For decades, educators, policy makers and journalists alike, have focused on the “achievement gap,” the disparity between rich and poor students in academic outcomes, such as grades, standardized test scores, high school graduation rates.
Scant attention has been paid to the opportunity gap—the stark differences in access to educational resources both in and out of school. And even less to its complex root causes: poverty, growing economic disparities between rich and poor, the disappearing middle class, and school and housing segregation, to name just a few.
The impact of educational inequity is wide-ranging and profound. And, at its heart, it runs counter to the American ideal that public education should be the “great equalizer” in our society. In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2014, President Obama referred to this ideal when he said, “Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”