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On the Value of 'Equality of Educational Opportunity' as a Guide to Public Policy

Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain
Published Date: 
In Frederick Mosteller and Daniel P. Moynihan (ed.)
On Equality of Educational Opportunity
(New York: Random House)
pp. 116-145

Equality of Educatiollal Opportunity has been part of the public record since July, 1 96(l. The best known "finding" of the report is that quantity and quality of school inputs (facilities, curriculum, and personnel) have
little or no bearing on achievement; home environment and the student's peers are what really count. Obviously, such a finding has far-reaching implications for educational policy. At the very least, it raises serious questions about the efficacy of the billions of dollars now spent on public education. Yet in our opinion, serious doubts must be raised about this and several other "findings" attributed to the Report. These doubts result both from the methods of empirical analysis and their interpretation.