One does not often apply the term landmark to an edited volume, but this volume is a major exception to the rule. Whither Opportunity? is one of the most important compendia we have, for it examines in detail and from all conceivable angles the power of class to determine the developmental fate of America s children. From this volume, we learn that children in communities experiencing unemployment do worse in school even if their own families are safe from its reach; that test score gaps by income are larger and growing faster than the gaps between black and white; that expenditures by high-income families on enrichment of all kinds is vastly larger than what low-income families can afford. All of this adds up to a new and troubling examination of the ways in which income inequality is pressing the nation s children, youth, neighborhoods, schools, and families. I don t often use the overworked phrase, must read, but it most definitely applies to this book. --Katherine S. Newman, Johns Hopkins University
Almost all Americans state that they are in favor of equal opportunity for the next generation. But the lip service stops there. Whither Opportunity? systematically and forcefully follows low- and high-income children through the life course from birth through their labor-market outcomes. The authors suggest that at every stage in the life course low-income children have worse outcomes than do higher-income children, leading to a highly polarized future society. The myriad of studies summarized here offer compelling evidence that if we as a nation really believe in equality of opportunity, we must intervene early and often in low-income children s lives and in the schools they attend, while also addressing the rising inequality that is ultimately giving well-to-do children every advantage possible and harming low-income children. This book will be a reference source on child development, inequality, and schools for years to come. I urge you to read it and then become active in social change to better the situation of low- income children in America. --Timothy M. Smeeding, University of Wisconsin, Madison
About the Author
Greg J. Duncan is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Richard J. Murnane is Thomspon Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.