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    Are schools engines of opportunity or agents of inequality? It’s complicated.

    A new Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis working paper examines educational opportunities for elementary and middle school students in nearly all U.S. school districts.  Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, who posed the question that I used in the title, found, First, there is enormous variation among districts in…
    Terry Stoops, December 6, 2017
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    Helping the Poor

    My colleague Jon Sanders wonders whether policies to help the poor actually help, finds that  “policy is a small part of the overall social equation,” and concludes that the most effective ways to reduce poverty are free enterprise and voluntary action. Jon recommends ending policies that get in the way of private…
    Joseph Coletti, August 18, 2017
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    Jobs out of poverty

    What matters to poor people? H. Luke Schaeffer and Kathryn J. Edin took the unusual step of asking them. Schaeffer explained We ask families, “If we came back in a year and you were doing really well, what it would look like?” They say, “I’d be working in a…
    Joseph Coletti, June 28, 2017
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    Freedom: the most effective antipoverty tool known to history

    It is also the antipoverty tool most unknown to the UNC-Chapel Hill Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity. The center’s fate may be up in the air, but its track record is not. My newsletter this week details the center’s history of leaders who “unfailingly promoted empirically unsound public…
    Jon Sanders, February 20, 2015
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    Federal Poverty Levels

    We often hear references to the federal poverty level when discussing government welfare programs.  I always get confused when I hear it in the form of a percentage since I don’t know what the poverty level is in terms of salary.  The simple answer is…it depends. The poverty level for…
    Sarah Curry, September 5, 2014
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    Canutian, not Sisyphean

    National Review’s defense, which Mitch posted earlier, of Paul Ryan for daring to seek new ways to fight poverty, is excellent. This part particularly resounded: This is a familiar situation for conservatives, whose Sisyphean task is to explain to the community at large the difference between the intended…
    Jon Sanders, March 18, 2014
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    ‘The greatest beneficiaries of capitalism are those at the bottom of the income ladder’

    John Goodman’s post today, “Do You Care More Than Paul Krugman Cares?“, opens with words from Gary Becker that happily explain also why I believe in free-market capitalism. Goodman’s opening: At a conference at the Vatican I attended some years ago, Nobel laureate Gary Becker gave the opening speech.
    Jon Sanders, August 29, 2012
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    Gee, when you put it that way, it really does sound like a friggin’ terrible idea

    Headline in the New York Times today: "Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears." NYT reports: Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. ... But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability. ... Soaring food prices have caused riots or contributed to political turmoil in a host of poor countries in recent months, including Algeria, Egypt and Bangladesh, where palm oil, a common biofuel ingredient, provides crucial nutrition to a desperately poor populace. During the second half of 2010, the price of corn rose steeply — 73 percent in the United States — an increase that the United Nations World Food Program attributed in part to the greater use of American corn for bioethanol. Longtime readers of The Locker Room knew this would happen back when Pres. George Bush signed biofuels initiatives into law. Here, for example, is a chart I made back in 2008:
    Jon Sanders, April 7, 2011