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American Education Failing Poor

The Hamilton Project, an education initiative attached to the Brookings Institute, recently unveiled a study on how education fails low-income high achieving students.

The paper, titled “Informing Students about their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project,” was co-authored by Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby and University of Virginia’s Sarah Turner.

The paper conducted an inexpensive study and information initiative of sending pamphlets and information about top-tier colleges and universities to low-income but high-achieving students.  The program per student cost $6.

The authors specifically say that “existing counselors could easily guide low-income high achievers, so they are evidently not trying.” They state that prestigious colleges “could easily recruit [them], so they are evidently not trying.”

The authors noted: “High-achieving, low-income students are also natural role models, and by not attending selective schools, they may inadvertently send a message to other low-income students that working hard in school is not worth the effort because high achievers enroll at the same schools as everyone else.”

The number of low-income high achievers ranges between 25-35,000 and would fill up an entire mid-tier school. Moreover, the current recession is making schools rethink their finances. Howard University in Washington, D.C., for example, is struggling to make ends meet [1].

The paper addresses an important issue, but recommends a top-down approach. Instead, the authors could have suggested privatization and more bottom-up education policy that would help get better information for the schools, counselors, parents and students.


Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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