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IAS Fellows’ Public Lecture – Inequality American Style: what role do schools play?

November 17, 2021 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Public Lecture by Professor Douglas Downey, Ohio State University

There is an assumption among both the American public and most academic scholars:  differences in school quality play an important role producing and reproducing inequality in the U.S. On its surface this view seems obviously true. It is why high-income parents send their children to private schools or search for homes in neighborhoods with “good” public schools. And it is why low-income parents sometimes support charter schools and other school-based reforms. But it turns out that important evidence contradicts this position. Professor Douglas Downey discusses several key empirical patterns that suggest that schools primarily reflect rather than generate inequalities in children’s math and reading skills. And to the extent that schools do affect achievement gaps, they mostly reduce them. He considers why this more favorable view of schools fails to gain stature among the public, how the Covid-19 pandemic might affect the conversation, and the kinds of policies most likely to reduce societal-level achievement gaps.

Registration is not required to attend in person. To watch online please register here.


November 17, 2021
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm


Holgate House, Grey College, Durham University


Institute of Advanced Study

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