Over 90 percent of Americans believe that equality of opportunity is “absolutely essential” as an American ideal. The ideal of equality of opportunity gains its largest traction in discussions about social mobility and in the structure, purposes, and financing of education. But while this ideal is widely adhered to, its very meaning is deeply contested.
This academic year marks the final year some of our postdoc fellows have worked on a Spencer Foundation project on equality of opportunity in education. The core goal of the Spencer project is to refine our understanding of the relationship between ideals of equality – especially equality of opportunity - and the public provision of education. To do this, we have focused on three main questions:
We believe the importance of our project is magnified by the mounting evidence of the increasing scope of income and wealth inequality in the United States over the past generation. No matter how the ideal of equality of opportunity is defined, countless studies show just how far we are from actually achieving equal opportunity for all: how little social mobility there is in the U.S., how wide the achievement gap is, how systematic the difference in opportunity structure for whites, African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. Indeed, when issues of race, class and ethnicity come into play, the meaning of equal educational opportunity for all quickly becomes contested. To culminate our work on the Spencer Project, we've created a website to share insights on the initiative.
Debra Satz, (PI) Professor of Ethics in Society, Professor of Philosophy, and, by courtesy, Political Science, Stanford University
Eamonn Callan, (PI) Professor of Education, Stanford University
Rob Reich, (PI) Associate Professor of Political Science and, by courtesy, Education and Philosophy, Stanford University
Anne Newman, Associate Director at the Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford University
Kendra Bishoff, Assistant Professor in Sociology, Cornell University, former Spencer Foundation postdoc fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society
Sarah Hannan, Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, former Spencer Foundation postdoc fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society
Bill Koski, Professor of Law, Director of the Youth and Education Law Clinic, Stanford University
Hugh Lazenby, faculty in philosophy at the University of Glasgow, former Spencer Foundation postdoc fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society
Susanna Loeb, Professor of Education, Faculty Director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis, Stanford University
Liam Shields, Spencer Foundation postdoc fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford University
Ken Shores, PhD candidate in the Administration and Policy Analysis program, Stanford University