+ Education Gap Could Further Limit Poor

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The authors of  a Brookings Institution study warn that widening gaps in higher education between rich and poor, whites and minorities, can soon lead to a downturn in opportunities for the poorest families.

The study, called “Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Mobility in America,” is sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  It found that Hispanic and Black Americans were falling behind whites and Asians, making it harder for them to enter the middle class or higher.  [Find the report at www.economicmobility.org].

As reported by Erik Eckholm in the NY Times,  the study shows that economic mobility for the poor (and some middle class) has not changed significantly over the last three decades.  Ron Haskins, a welfare expert and former Republican official who wrote the education section, confirms the report. 

But there is some good news: the study highlights the powerful role that college can have in helping someone change their station in life.  While only 11 percent of children from the poorest families have earned college degrees,   there is evidence that nearly 20 percent of those youngsters can join the highest earners in the country.  Sixty-two percent of them will join the middle class or better.

So the American dream is alive but tattered, says Isabel Sawhill, another author of the report. 

These Pew sponsored studies are continuing with the involvement of research organizations and scholars.

Another report is expected in the spring by the more conservative Heritage Foundation.  It will focus on explanations for the trends found in the current report.

sole source: article by Erik Eckholm in the NY Times on 2/20/08.  www.nytimes.com

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