Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth - By JOSEPH STIGLITZ NYTimes.com

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"Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country.... Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality... After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. Disparities widened between those living in poor localities and those living in rich suburbs -- or rich enough to send their kids to private schools. A result was a widening gap in educational performance....Unless current trends in education are reversed, the situation is likely to get even worse. In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades -- and especially in the last few years.

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