Understanding the Need

While economic data suggests that individuals will benefit from developing deeper learning abilities, the nation as a whole will only succeed if large numbers of individuals—particularly those from traditionally underserved groups—learn deeply. Making deeper learning opportunities more equitable is imperative from both a moral perspective and an economic perspective.

The moral imperative is overriding. For years, U.S. schools have tended to offer a two-tiered curriculum, in which some students, primarily white and relatively affluent, have had opportunities for deeper learning, while others, primarily low-income and students of color, have focused almost exclusively on basic skills and knowledge. More-affluent and white students get to analyze works of literature and write extensively, while low-income and minority students tend to complete worksheets that focus on memorization.

From an economic perspective, in today‘s information age, equity now becomes economically vital as well. The nation’s prosperity in the near future will depend more than ever on students from underserved groups. Children of color now account for about half of all births in the United States, and by 2050 the nation is expected to become majority-minority where more than half the population will be made up of people of color, compared with 35 percent in 2010. The U.S. economy can only thrive if the whole population, not less than half, is equipped to succeed.

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