Behind the Headline: Martin Luther King Jr. Born in Atlanta, Jan. 15, 1929

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Martin Luther King Jr. Born in Atlanta, Jan. 15, 1929
Politico | 1/15/16

Behind the Headline
What Matters for Student Achievement
Education Next | Spring 2016

On Monday we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday is today. His work to fight racial inequality inspires many to continue the struggle today.

When it comes to schools attended by black and white children, much of what we know about the inequality fought by King and others comes from the Coleman Report, “Equality of Educational Opportunity.”  

As explained by Eric Hanushek, the Coleman Report, published in 1966, had its roots in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which

gave the U.S. Office of Education two years to produce a report that was expected to describe the inequality of educational opportunities in elementary and secondary education across the United States. Congress sought to highlight, particularly in the South, the differences between schools attended by whites and those attended by blacks.

Hanushek notes that one of Coleman’s main findings

was the shocking achievement disparities across races and regions within the United States. In 1965, Coleman tells us, the average black 12th grader in the rural South registered an achievement level that was comparable to that of a white 7th grader in the urban Northeast. That gap and other similar performance gaps never received the attention they deserved.

In his article, “What Matters for Student Achievement,” Hanushek goes on to investigate the very modest improvements in the achievement gap that have taken place since 1966, which he writes “can only be called a national embarrassment.”

— Education Next

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