Education: What Schools Cannot Do

It has been a traditional American belief that doing well in school can help even the poorest and most culturally disadvantaged child achieve economic success. But can it? Not according to Harvard Sociologist Christopher Jencks. In a book to be published next month, Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (Basic Books, Inc.; $12.50), Jencks asserts that schools do almost nothing to close the gap between rich and poor. Moreover, he argues, the quality of the education that public elementary and high school students receive has little effect on their future income.

That conclusion alone would provoke...

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