Here’s something many of us know but which has gotten lost amidst the discussions and debates over the past several years about how to redress the educational achievement gap: this gap is, at its core, about class inequalities.  Thanks to a clear and concise op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times by Helen F. Ladd and Edward B. Fiske, we are reminded of the central reason so many kids are not proficient in math, science, reading, and writing.

Policymakers can talk all they want about fixing “failing schools” by holding them accountable to “higher standards” – as was the case with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and is similarly true with Obama administration rhetoric – but that doesn’t get us very far toward mitigating the problem.

This is why there is a growing consensus among education researchers that perhaps the best way to address the achievement gap is by investing in the many nonprofits across the U.S. which provide high-quality early childhood education to kids whose families can least afford to pay for it.  The significant benefits of making these investments are discussed elsewhere on this blog: