One of the most serious problems facing America today, says Harvard Kennedy School Professor Robert Putnam, is the opportunity gap. The space between the incomes of the rich and the poor is growing, and because of that gap, children are being left behind. It has nothing to do with interest levels or intelligence — and it has little to do with schools, but that doesn't mean schools can't help.
"Schools did not cause the problem, but schools can be part of the solution to the problem," says Putnam, author of the new book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. "Indeed, schools always, in America, have meant to be one of the major tools we have for leveling the playing field for making sure everyone gets a fair and equal start."
So, how can we help to ensure that fair start for all American children, and improve their access to resources and supports necessary for success?
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Putnam ponders that question and reflects on what educators can do to help restore some measure of social mobility in our society.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.