Policymakers almost universally conclude that persistent achievement gaps must result from wrongly designed school policies — either expectations that are too low, teachers who are insufficiently qualified, curricula that are badly designed, classes that are too large, school climates that are too undisciplined, leadership that is too unfocused, or a combination of these. This exclusive focus on schooling is wrong. Without complementary investments in early childhood preparation, health care, housing, after-school and summer programs, and other social and economic supports, the achievement gap will never be closed.
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Richard Rothstein is research associate at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
[THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE JUNE 2006 ISSUE OF POLICY PERSPECTIVES PUBLISHED BY WESTED; POSTED TO VIEWPOINTS ON JUNE 1, 2007.]