Income-related achievement gap widens

While the Occupy Wall Street protesters continue to decry the rising income inequality in America, here's some fuel to fan their flames: The income-related achievement gap between wealthy and poor children has widened to more drastic proportions than the gap between students of color and their white peers.

In a chapter of his new book "Whither Opportunity," Sean F. Reardon, an associate professor at Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis, examines the widening income-related achievement gap during the past 50 years and how its effects have eclipsed those of ethnicity-related achievement gaps.

"In some ways, this is not surprising. The 1950s and 1960s were characterized by historically low levels of income inequality and high levels of racial inequality, not only in educational achievement and attainment but in access to educational opportunity, labor markets, housing markets and health care. Beginning in the 1970s, this pattern began to reverse.  

...The Reagan-era changes in social policy - particularly changes in housing policies, income-support policies and other social safety nets for low-income families - have made life much more difficult for low-income families. Not only do the poor have less money than they did before, they may have fewer social support systems as well." 

Income inequality has been on the rise ever since, with direct consequences to education and access to opportunity. Reardon says that the income-related achievement gap is nearly twice as large as the black-white achievement gap. 

You can download the full chapter here.

"Whither Opportunity" is available for purchase here.