"Making Education Work for the Poor identifies wealth inequality as the gravest threat to the American education system. Today, wealth, rather than individuals' effort and ability, determines educational outcomes. This book calls for universal Opportunity Investment Accounts to be the cornerstone of the wealth-building agenda the nation needs to salvage the American Dream" --
Making Education Work for the Poor identifies wealth inequality as the gravest threat to the endangered American Dream. Though studies have clearly illustrated that education is the primary path to upward mobility, today, educational outcomes are more directly determined by wealth than innate ability and exerted effort. This accounting directly contradicts Americans' understanding of the promise the American Dream is supposed to offer: a level playing field and a path towards a more profitable future. In this book, the authors share their own stories of their journeys through the unequal U.S. education system. One started from relative privilege and had her way to prosperity paved and her individual efforts augmented by institutional and structural support. The other grew up in poverty and had to fight against currents to complete higher education, only to find his ability to profit from that degree compromised by student debt. To directly counter wealth inequality and makeeducation the 'great equalizer' that Americans believe it to be, this book calls for a revolution in financial aid policy, from debt dependence to asset empowerment. The book examines the evidence base supporting Children's Savings Accounts, including CSAs' demonstrated potential to improve children's outcomes all along the 'opportunity pipeline': early education, school achievement, college access and completion, and post-college financial health. It then outlines a policy that builds on CSAs to incorporate a sizable, progressive wealth transfer. This new policy, Opportunity Investment Accounts, is framed as the cornerstone of the wealth-building agenda the nation needs in order to salvage the American Dream. Written by leading CSA researchers, the book includes overviews of the major children's savings legislation proposed in Congress and the key features of prominent CSA programs in operation around the country today, as well as new qualitative and quantitative CSA research. The book ultimately presents a critical development of the theories that, together, explain how universal, progressive, asset-based education financing could make educationwork equitably for all American children.