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The academic achievement gap has been the subject of thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of articles during the past six decades. Do these persistent gaps arise from discrimination on the part of educational systems, or on the part of society in general? Or, do they arise from cultural patterns among the underachieving and the overachieving? The debate continues. And what is the remedy? Increase public funding for schooling? Been there, done that on a massive scale since 1965, with meager effects.

Other reforms have shown more promise: Train teachers more rigorously; reduce class sizes; devise more effective pedagogies; make room in the bureaucratic structure of the public schooling monopoly for more focused autonomous schools; apply new technologies; extend the school day and year; work with families to increase the support received by at-risk youth at home; allow parents to choose schools in which they have confidence, including those with a religious character. Each of these reforms has produced positive effects, and the measured achievement of American youth in these cases has improved significantly in recent decades. But the gap remains between black, Latino, and Native American students on one hand and their white and Asian peers on the other.

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