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American Wealth Disparity

Obama's Heaviest Lift

Robert Kuttner | Posted 03.29.2013 | Politics
Robert Kuttner

Have you ever wondered why it's become almost a hobby of billionaires to scapegoat our public schools for the widening inequality of our society? The answer is that if the problem is schools, then we don't have to think about all the other drivers of inequality. And if we can weaken a public institution along the way, so much the better. The fact is that in the late 1990s, when we had full employment, inequality narrowed and people at the bottom made the biggest gains. And we had the same schools; in fact, the test scores and graduation rates were worse back then than the ones we have today. In the 1950s and 1960s, when we had strong unions and near-full employment, the society became more equal. Face it, we could improve our test scores, and send everyone to college, but until we address the other sources of inequality, we will just have more frustrated graduates.