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Choosing Our Future: A Story of Opportunity in America
Irwin Kirsch, Henry Braun, Mary Louise Lennon, and Anita Sands

The Transmission of Opportunity: Gates and Gaps

My concern is not about inequality at a point in time per se but about the effect of rising inequality on disequalizing the life chances of kids born into affluent versus non-affluent households. … Already the gradient between household income and college attendance has steepened substantially between cohorts born in the early 1960s and those born in the early 1980s. Since education is the key predictor of lifetime earnings, this suggests that the link between circumstances at birth and lifetime incomes will be magnified in the current generation relative to earlier ones.

David Autor (MIT) 80

As noted earlier, we define opportunity as pathways to the development of human and social capital. These pathways are marked by gates, a metaphor for the factors that either offer access or present obstacles to this development. Like the gated communities dotting the American landscape, the status of these gates – whether they are open, slightly ajar, or fully closed – reflects a stratification of opportunity. Open gates signify advantage: unimpeded pathways and beneficial social networks and values that make it possible to accumulate necessary skills. Closed gates signify an impasse, where the path beyond is largely inaccessible, social networks are detrimental, and opportunity is blocked.

The factors that foster or limit the accumulation of human and social capital are complex and often interrelated. They include family structure and parenting, financial resources, and characteristics of neighborhoods and schools, as well as the health care and criminal justice systems.

Percent of 24- to 28-Year-Olds with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher in 2008 by Skills and Family Income

Percent of 24- to 28-Year-Olds with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher in 2008 by Skills and Family Income

Skills are reported by quintiles based on scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)

Family income is reported based on income status in 1997

Source: Andrew Sum, October 2013, presentation to Opportunity in America panel.

In some cases, gates that close off one pathway at a particular point in time may be offset by open gates along a different pathway. If, for example, the parents of a high-achieving high school student do not have the experience or resources to help their child navigate the college application process, a guidance counselor or family friend might be able to provide that knowledge and support – making it more likely that the young person will continue his or her education. Changes in life situations over a period of time may also open up new pathways for an individual. One example is the Moving to Opportunity project, a 1990s initiative in which public-housing residents in five large U.S. cities were given vouchers that allowed them to move from high-poverty to low-poverty neighborhoods. Follow-up studies have shown that children who moved before the age of 13 had higher college attendance rates, higher marriage rates, and increased income levels when compared to similar children who did not move or moved at an older age.81

More typically, however, multiple factors play the role of gates at different stages of development. For example, a child born to a family living in poverty is likely to grow up in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, attend poorly performing schools, have limited access to healthy food or good medical care, and so on. Each of those factors amplifies the negative effects of the others and, in combination over time, lead to ever-greater gaps; that is, measurable differences among individuals in accumulated human and social capital.

A child who encounters an open gate at a particular developmental stage has a better chance to develop the skills and abilities appropriate to that stage. For example, a 5-year-old whose family and extended social network has taught him or her the self-regulatory behaviors expected at school will likely transition more smoothly into kindergarten and be ready to learn. Another 5-year-old who has not developed those behaviors is more likely to struggle. The result is a gap in the human and social capital already acquired by those two children that will continue to affect their chances of meeting subsequent developmental milestones. Such gaps are reflected in the national data cited earlier, showing that achievement gaps between children in high- and low-income families have increased.82

Gates and gaps interact in dynamic ways throughout childhood and into adulthood. Gaps that develop during one developmental period can limit subsequent opportunities. As a result, such gaps are particularly consequential for young children.83 For example, children who do not develop critical pre-reading and mathematics skills are less likely to be successful as they begin school; failing to achieve basic skills in the early grades makes it less likely they will be able to handle the academic demands in later grades. The multiplicative effects of initial and ongoing differences in opportunity result in widening gaps and increasing inequality in adult outcomes.

Of course, not all children lucky enough to grow up in environments in which the gates are open go on to lead successful lives. And, conversely, there are children and young adults who are able to overcome closed gates and developmental gaps and, despite setbacks and obstacles, achieve great things. But for those tens of millions of children who face a succession of closed gates we must ask: Should America be a country where so many children must be heroes in order to achieve a modicum of security and stability?

The Earliest Gates

Although people accumulate human and social capital throughout their lifetimes, the early years are critically important. The human and social capital developed during early childhood lays the foundation for growth throughout a youngster's life and, ultimately, for adult outcomes. As James Heckman explains, "Early childhood development directly influences economic, health and social outcomes for individuals and society."84 Ensuring that gates are more open than closed from the earliest ages onward helps to limit the number and extent of gaps that an individual needs to close as he or she grows into adulthood.

Video thumbnail of Isable Sawhill

Isabel Sawhill

Source: Educational Testing Service

Not surprisingly, children's earliest developmental opportunities are very strongly dependent on their parents. Although almost all parents want their child to thrive and do everything they can toward that end, their life situations dictate the extent to which they have the skills and resources to achieve that goal – and, therefore, determine whether gates are open or closed for that child. Parents' skills and educational backgrounds, their employment status and economic resources, characteristics of their own family lives and the community in which they live, as well as the extent to which they are engaged in that community, all influence children's opportunities at key stages in their development – beginning with conception and continuing through adolescence and their transition to adult roles.

Before birth

Percent Non-Marital Births (to Women Ages 20 to 29 Years), by Race/Ethnicity and Level of Education, 1990 and 2009

Percent Non-Marital Births (to Women Ages 20 to 29 Years), by Race/Ethnicity and Level of Education, 1990 and 2009

Chart showing Percent Non-Marital Births (to Women Ages 20 to 29 Years), by Race/Ethnicity and Level of Education, 1990 and 2009

Source: Child Trends, "Non-Marital Births: Educational Differences, Table 5. Percent Non-Marital Births (to Women Ages 20 to 29), by Race/Ethnicity and Level of Education." See

Horizontal bar chart showing percent of children born to unmarried mothers by educational attainment and race/ethnicity in 1990 and 2009. The percent is shown from 0 percent to 90 percent on the horizontal axis in increments of 10 percent. For those whose educational attainment was high school or less: for whites, the percent was 21 in 1990 and 51 in 2009; for blacks, the percent was 71 in 1990 and 85 in 2009; and for Hispanics, the percent was 37 in 1990 and 59 in 2009. For those with some college: for whites, the percent was 11 in 1990 and 34 in 2009; for blacks, the percent was 52 in 1990 and 74 in 2009; and for Hispanics, the percent was 23 in 1990 and 49 in 2009. For those with a bachelor's degree: for whites, the percent was 3 in 1990 and 8 in 2009; for blacks, the percent was 29 in 1990 and 46 in 2009; and for Hispanics, the percent was 13 in 1990 and 24 in 2009.

The potential for children to thrive begins even before birth, impacted by the health of their mothers, the availability of prenatal care, and the family structure into which they will be born.85 Thus one of the first set of gates that may be open or closed for children is whether they are born healthy, at a normal birth weight, and into a family that can meet their earliest needs. Children exposed to toxins, drugs, or alcohol in utero, carried by mothers in poor health or subject to environmental or other stresses, or born to mothers with challenges that lead to poorer nurturing and weaker attachment, will likely begin their lives with gaps in their ability to grow physically, emotionally, and socially compared with infants born into more favorable environments.86

The structure of the family into which a child is born also influences that child's opportunities from the start of life. As a result of a complex set of factors, there have been dramatic changes in the American family over the past two generations.87 The number of children living with married parents has decreased by 25 percent since the 1960s.88 Over that same period, the percentage of children born to unmarried mothers has increased dramatically, with rates being highest for Black and Hispanic women.89 The percentage of children born to unmarried mothers was around 5 percent in 1960, reached a historic high of just over 40 percent in 2008, and has remained steady since then.90 It is important to note that most of the increase in out-of-wedlock births over the past few decades is due to the increase in the share of births to cohabitating women.91 However, although the presence of a partner can provide critical support to a mother preparing for the birth a child, the fragility of many cohabiting families can make that support tenuous.92

Percentage of Women Married Among Educational Attainment Groups, 1940-2011

Percentage of Women Married Among Educational Attainment Groups, 1940-2011

Source: Julissa Cruz, Marriage: More than a Century of Change, Family Profiles-13-13) (Bowling Green, Ohio: National Center for Family and Marriage Research), retrieved from Adapted from U.S. Census Bureau, Decennial Census, 1940-2000 (IPUMS); U.S. Census Bureau.

Of course, marital status in and of itself does not determine the circumstances into which an infant is born and the gates that are open or closed for that child. But because unmarried and cohabitating parents tend to have lower levels of education and more limited economic resources, they face a host of challenges. Importantly, before a child's birth, a poor and poorly educated mother may not have access to good medical care and nutritious food or have a supportive social network. As a result, she may have difficulty taking care of herself and supporting her child's development throughout her pregnancy.

Infancy and early childhood

Early childhood is another critical time in the lives of young children as it is the period for developing key cognitive and social skills, including language development and a sense of self-efficacy. Whether the gates to growth and learning are open or closed during this period depends on factors including parental attachment, child health, and nutrition. Children born into "higher risk" families, such as those with low-income, poorly educated parents, or single parents with work schedules that are not conducive to spending time with young children, often exhibit gaps in growth and development by the age of 9 months. There is empirical evidence that these gaps in cognitive, social, behavioral, and health outcomes grow even larger by age 2.93

One example of such a gap is related to language development. Studies have shown that variations in parent-child interactions are associated with substantial differences in the numbers of words a young child hears and learns, with children raised in homes where rich daily exchanges are the norm hearing millions more words than those from homes with limited verbal interactions.94 This is significant, not only because children who enter school with a smaller vocabulary and more limited language development have deficits that impact their early learning experiences, but also because the resulting gaps often continue through high school and beyond. Thus, the strong human and social capital of some parents – including their own vocabulary and knowledge base as well as their understanding of the value of language experiences for young children – provide both initial and long-lasting opportunities for their children that are much less common for children whose parents have different types of backgrounds.

Parental resources during these developmental years affect a range of early experiences, including childcare arrangements. Many toddlers spend some portion of their time with caregivers, including informal networks of family and friends, as well as in more formal settings such as nursery schools or preschools. Poorer children are much more likely to receive low-quality care than children from families with higher incomes. This difference is consequential as quality of care at an early age has been found to have persistent and long-term impacts on social behavior and academic achievement.95

The broad set of resources that makes a difference in the lives of young children also includes investments of parental time, engagement of parents and caregivers, and other supports for learning and development. Infants whose parents respond to their actions and vocalizations learn that they can influence their environment, helping to set the stage for developing self-esteem, self-reliance, and self-control – all important qualities for succeeding in school and beyond.96 Parents who regularly read to their young children help foster the development of language skills. Parenting styles also affect children's behavioral patterns in school and, ultimately, the workplace. Those parents who understand or learn about the stages of growth by consulting child development books or seeking advice from knowledgeable family members and friends are able to support and challenge their children in developmentally appropriate ways.

When children reach the age of 4 or 5, school readiness presents another important milestone. Children who have had opportunities to develop some level of pre-reading and mathematics skills, along with school-appropriate behavioral norms, are most likely to begin school on the right foot. Children with gaps in these areas need to catch up if they are to go on to have successful early school experiences. 

The School-Age Years

Parental resources continue to impact their children's opportunities throughout the school-age years. The same familial factors present in early childhood can provide access or barriers to opportunity for older children. Health problems that begin and develop through early childhood are likely to continue. Poorer children are more likely to suffer from asthma and obesity and less likely to be immunized.97 Resulting complications can interfere with regular school attendance and learning.

As children enter school, with its associated academic demands and social expectations, parental backgrounds make a difference. Parents' education is highly correlated with the quality of childhood education because, with greater resources at their disposal, more highly educated parents are better able to exercise some choice in the school setting to which their children are exposed.98 Moreover, these parents can draw on their own educational experiences in their efforts to make sure their children succeed by supporting their learning at home and interacting with both teachers and school officials.

In parallel with the growing inequality in income and wealth in this country, there is a growing divergence in parental investments. Figure 7 shows that, from 1972 to 2006, the gap between what high- and low-income families spent on enrichment goods and activities for their children almost tripled. Likewise, since 1975, the amount of time parents spend with their children has grown twice as fast among college-educated parents as it has among less educated parents.99 As Sean Reardon points, out, "High-income families are increasingly focusing their resources — their money, time and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in school — on their children's cognitive development and educational success."100

Figure 7: Enrichment Expenditures on Children by Parental Income, 1972-2006

Figure 7: Enrichment Expenditures on Children by Parental Income, 1972-2006

Source: Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances by Duncan, Greg J.; Murnane, Richard J. Reproduced with permission of Russell Sage Foundation in the format Republish in other published product via Copyright Clearance Center.

As children enter their school-age years, they increasingly experience environments and social networks beyond their immediate family. Their growth and development is influenced by their school and its environs – its culture, the experience and skills of their teachers, the influence of peers, the safety and upkeep of the building itself, and the characteristics of the neighborhood in which it is located.

Our school funding systems, largely based on local property taxes, often severely limit what schools in poor areas are able to provide to help close some of the gaps for children who come to school ill-prepared to learn and achieve.101 Variations in the instructional environment, curriculum, and school policies do little to equalize educational outcomes for children entering school with different sets of skills. For example, at the high school level, poor children and children of color are less likely to attend schools that offer the kinds of advanced level classes that are available to their more advantaged peers. Neighborhood environments, low salaries, and poor working conditions in high-poverty schools often mean that teachers in these schools are more likely to be poorly qualified and that more qualified teachers tend to leave after relatively short stints.102 Thus, the children who most need experienced and effective teachers are least likely to have them.

Across all groups, children are increasingly attending schools in which the other students are just like them. Eighty percent of Latino students and 74 percent of Black students attend schools in which the majority of students are nonwhite. The average White student goes to a school that is 75 percent White. White and Asian students attend schools where at least 60 percent of their peers are not poor, while the average Black or Latino student attends a public school where nearly two-thirds of the students are poor.103 In fact, schools are increasingly segregated not only by race but income. Such segregation matters because the characteristics of peer groups have been shown to influence children's skill development and academic trajectories.104

One responsibility of school officials is to maintain a safe learning environment for all students. Suspensions and, in rarer cases, expulsions are one set of tools used by administrators. Because these practices interrupt student learning, many have advocated that they be used more sparingly or that other disciplinary strategies be implemented. One source for concern is that these practices are applied unevenly to children based on race/ethnicity and gender, a concern supported by statistics such as the following from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2010-2011 school year.105

  • Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate that is three times greater than White students.
  • American Indian and Native Alaskan students are also disproportionately suspended and expelled.
  • Although boys overall receive more than two-thirds of suspensions, Black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race or ethnicity and most boys.
  • American Indian and Native Alaskan girls are suspended at higher rates than White boys or girls.
  • Although Black children constitute 18 percent of the children enrolled in preschool, they represent 48 percent of preschool children receiving more than one out-of-school suspension. Boys, in particular, are disproportionately suspended. They represent 54 percent of the preschool enrollment but 79 percent of the children suspended once and 82 percent of those suspended multiple times.

Such statistics are evidence of the uneven application of disciplinary policies only if the punished students are not more likely than others to engage in activities that would normally lead to such punishments. There is data that shows this is, indeed, the case. A study of schools in North Carolina found that Black students were disciplined more severely than White students for the same infractions. A recent report from the William T. Grant Foundation found that "reviews of racial disparities in school discipline have failed to find evidence that higher rates of school suspension and expulsion among (B)lack youth can be attributed to higher rates of disruptive behavior."106

Differences in the school experiences of students from low-income communities in comparison to those from middle- and upper-income communities, as well as from different racial/ethnic backgrounds and different genders, further exacerbate disparities in opportunity. As young people transition to adulthood, opportunities related to postsecondary education, apprenticeship programs, and job prospects are largely determined by the gates through which they were, or were not, able to pass and the extent to which they suffer from gaps in cognitive skills, confidence, aspirations, and ability to overcome setbacks.

The Role of Neighborhoods in the Transmission of Opportunity

As important as they are in the development of children, schools cannot do it all. Public school students spend an average of about 1,000 hours a year in school – a little less in elementary school and a little more in high school.107 This represents roughly 18 percent of a student's 5,500 waking hours over the course of a year.108 Clearly, as most of a child's learning and development occurs outside the school context, family and neighborhood characteristics strongly affect the opportunities available to students.

Trends in Segregation by Income, by Race. Metropolitan Areas with Population > 500,000

Trends in Segregation by Income, by Race. Metropolitan Areas with Population > 500,000

Note: Averages include all metropolitan areas with at least 500,000 residents in 2007 and at least 10,000 families of a given race in each year 1970-2009 (or each year 1980-2009 for Hispanics). This includes 116 metropolitan areas for the trends in total and White income segregation, 65 metropolitan areas for the trends in income segregation among Black families, and 37 metropolitan areas for the trends in income segregation among Hispanic families. The averages presented here are unweighted. The trends are very similar if metropolitan areas are weighted by the population of the group of interest.

Source: Kendra Bischoff and Sean F. Reardon, Residential Segregation by Income, 1970-2009 (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013). Original title: Trends in Family Income Segregation, by Race, Metropolitan Areas With Population > 500,000.

Neighborhoods can either nurture or crush opportunity. Education, employment, housing, and a host of other variables – including police protection, health care, and libraries to name a few – are largely determined in the United States by where one resides. Although race-based neighborhood segregation has been, on average, slowly declining, segregation by socioeconomic status has been on the rise. This trend holds not only across, but also within, each major racial group. As a result, affluent and impoverished Black or Latino families are less likely to be neighbors now than they were 40 years ago. Segregation by race and ethnicity does, however, remain extreme in many of the nation's largest urban communities. In places like Milwaukee, New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland, concentrated segregation and high poverty combine to create neighborhoods characterized by social disorder.109

In 1970, 65 percent of Americans lived in a middle-class neighborhood. That number has now dropped to 42 percent.110 For those who live in poor neighborhoods, closed gates abound and opportunities are severely restricted. Neighborhoods without jobs, and without transportation to where the jobs are, limit prospects for residents. Unsafe living conditions add stress to their everyday lives. Poorly managed schools with less qualified teachers restrict what children learn. A lack of community resources such as parks, grocery stores, and medical clinics impact the health and well-being of residents. As Sheryll Cashin explains: "Place – where one lives – powerfully structures opportunity. . . . (F)or those of any color relegated to low-opportunity environs, geography is largely destiny."111

All of the factors discussed here – family structures and parenting practices, financial resources, neighborhood characteristics, and the features and practices of social institutions, along with the economic and political context in which they operate – can shape opportunity for children and, consequently, their life outcomes. Left unchecked, the compounding effects of these factors will only drive us further apart. To turn the tide and to begin to grow together will require a long-term, systematic approach focused on policies, practices, and interventions designed to both increase opportunity and make its distribution more equitable.

To turn the tide and to begin to grow together will require a long-term, systematic approach focused on policies, practices, and interventions designed to both increase opportunity and make its distribution more equitable.


80 As quoted in Thomas B. Edsall, "The Hidden Prosperity of the Poor," New York Times, Opinionator, January 30, 2013,

81 Achievement testing did not demonstrate long-lasting improvements in children's outcomes, but positive effects of the Moving to Opportunity treatments reemerged in adulthood.  See Raj Chetty, Nathanial Hendren, and Lawrence F. Katz, The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2015), See also the work of Karl L. Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson in The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood, Rose Series in Sociology, American Sociological Association (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2014). The authors report on their longitudinal study of children growing up in Baltimore and their findings that opportunities at an early age – related to growing up in strong families and living in cohesive neighborhoods with better schools –  shaped the socioeconomic status of those children as they grew to adulthood. 

82 Reardon, "Widening Academic-Achievement Gap."

83 Timothy M. (Tim) Smeeding, "Gates, Gaps, and Intergenerational Mobility: The Importance of an Even Start," in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016).

84 James J. Heckman, "Invest in Early Childhood Development: Reduce Deficits, Strengthen the Economy," The Heckman Equation, December 7, 2012,

85 Isabel Sawhill, Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage  (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2014).

86 Smeeding, "Gates, Gaps"; see Social Genome Project for more about benchmarks for success at key stages of the life cycle. The Social Genome Project, Brookings Institution, September 10, 2015,

87 The factors influencing why a growing percentage of children, especially African-American children, are born to unmarried mothers are complex.  They include the role of declining labor market opportunities for poorly educated African-American males as well as very high incarceration rates.  For more in-depth discussion, see the poverty research work by Kathryn Edin and colleagues.

88 Authors' calculations based on figures in Family Structure:  Indicators on Children and Youth, Child Trends Data Bank, March 2015,

89 Stephanie J. Ventura, Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, Centers for Disease Control, NCHS Data Brief No. 18, May 2009,

90 Gretchen Livingston and Anna Brown,  "Birth Rate for Unmarried Women Declining for First Time in Decades," Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, August 13, 2014,

91 Wendy D. Manning, Susan L. Brown, and Bart Stykes, "Trends in Births to Single and Cohabiting Mothers, 1980-2013, Family Profiles-15-03, (Bowling Green, Ohio: National Center for Family and Marriage Research), 2015),

92 Kelly Musick and Katherine Michelmore, Change in the Stability of Marital and Cohabiting Unions Following the Birth of a Child,  California Center for Population Research (Los Angeles: University of California–Los Angeles, revised October 27, 2014).

93 Tamara Halle, Nicole Forry, Elizabeth Hair, Kate Perper, Laura Wandner, Julia Wessel, and Jessica Vick. Disparities in Early Learning and Development: Lessons from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). (Washington, DC: Child Trends, June 2009),

94 Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, "The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3," American Educator, Spring 2003: 4-9,

95 Rob Stein, "Study Finds that Effects of Low-Quality Child Care Last into Adolescence," Washington Post, May 14, 2010,

96 Edward Rodrigue and Richard V. Reeves, "Getting Attached: Parental Attachment and Child Development," Social Mobility Memos, Brookings Institution, April 21, 2015,

97 Poverty Threatens Health of U.S. Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, May 4, 2013,

98 Smeeding, "Gates, Gaps."

99 Putnam, Our Kids, 127.

100 Sean F. Reardon, "No Rich Child Left Behind," The Great Divide, New York Times, April 27, 2013,

101 Bruce Baker, Danielle Farrie, and David Sciarra. "The Changing Distribution of Educational Opportunities: 1993-2012, in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016). For a discussion of the history of free public schools and school funding, see Carl Kaestle, "Federalism and Inequality in Education: What Can History Tell Us?" in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016).

102 Jennifer A. O'Day and Marshall S. Smith, "Quality and Equality in American Education: Systemic Problems, Systemic Solutions," in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016).

103 Sheryll D. Cashin, "Place, Not Race: Affirmative Action and the Geography of Educational Opportunity," University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 47 (2014), 935-65,

104 Henry Braun, "The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: A Working Framework," in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016).

105 U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Data Snapshot: School Discipline, Civil Rights Data Collection, Issue Brief 1, March 2014,

106 Russell Skiba, "Disparities in School Discipline: The Complex Fact of Inequality in Education," William T. Grant Foundation, March 10, 2015, See also the post from the superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools where she states, "Minority students do not misbehave more than their white peers; they are disciplined more severely for the same behaviors. For example, a study of North Carolina schools found that discipline gaps exist for various infractions: for dress-code violations, black students were suspended at a rate six times higher than white students; for cellphone use, it was eight times higher; for displays of affection, 10 times higher; and for disruptive behavior, it was double." Bernadeia Johnson, "Critics Say My New Discipline Policy Is Unfair to White Students. Here's Why They're Wrong," PostEverything, Washington Post, November, 26, 2014,

107 Mona Chalabi, "American Kids Will Spend an Average of 943 Hours in Elementary School This Year," FiveThirtyEight, New York Times, September 4, 2014,

108 O'Day and Smith, "Systemic Problems."

109 Douglas Massey and Jonathan Tannen, "Segregation, Race, and the Social Worlds of Rich and Poor," in The Dynamics of Opportunity in America: Evidence and Perspectives, eds. Irwin Kirsch and Henry Braun (New York: Springer, 2016).

110 Richard Florida, "The U.S. Cities With the Highest Levels of Income Segregation," CityLab, Atlantic,  March 18, 2014,

111 Cashin, Place not Race.