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Two Economists on School Reform

This post originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Conversations about America’s public-education system range from confusing to dispiriting. Charter schools? The best seem fantastic, but is the typical charter school really better than the typical conventional public school?

Teach for America? Is it drawing America’s best and brightest into inner-city classrooms where they turn lives around? Or is it a cult of well-intentioned 20-somethings ill-equipped to teach?

No Child Left Behind? Is it imposing sorely needed standards and accountability on K-12 education? Or has it bred a teach-to-the-test-and-only-the-test mentality that discourages teachers from focusing on low-income children?

Into this debate come two economists, Greg J. Duncan of the School of Education at the University of California at Irvine, and Richard J. Murnane of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with an encouraging message: We do have evidence that a few approaches work.

Professors Duncan and Murnane previously have argued that the economic forces of technology and globalization are driving a wedge between winners and losers in the U.S. economy and making it tough for schools to help children from low-income families to get the skills they need to compete.

Tough, they argue, but definitely not impossible. ...

To read the complete post, visit the Wall Street Journal.