The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools (Paperback)

The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools By Eric Schwarz, Lawrence H. Summers (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America's Schools (Paperback)


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Schwarz, founder of the groundbreaking Citizen Schools program, shares his vision for reducing inequality by pairing successful adults with low-income students.
Parental wealth now predicts adult success more than at any point in the last hundred years. And yet as debates about education rage on, and wealth-based achievement gaps grow, too many people fix the blame on one of two convenient scapegoats: poverty or our public schools. But in fact, low-income kids are learning more now than ever before. The real culprit for rising inequality, Eric Schwarz argues in The Opportunity Equation, is that wealthier kids are learning much, much more—mostly outside of school. In summer camps, robotics competitions, sessions with private tutors, and conversations around the dinner table, children from more affluent families build the skills and social networks that propel them to success.
In The Opportunity Equation, Schwarz tells the story of how he founded the pioneering Citizen Schools program to combat rising inequality by bringing these same opportunities to children who don’t have access to them. By increasing learning time in schools and harnessing the power of an army of volunteers with various skills and professional backgrounds—lawyers, engineers, carpenters, journalists, nonprofit leaders, and grandmothers who sew—Citizen Schools offers after-school apprenticeships that provide the building blocks for adult success.
Recounting the triumphs and setbacks he’s encountered in implementing the program, Schwarz shows that some of the nation’s lowest-performing schools in its lowest-income cities can, with help, provide their students with many of the same experiences wealthy communities afford to their children. The results have been proven: in the dozen school districts, from New York to Oakland, that have partnered with Citizen Schools, rates of attendance, proficiency, graduation, and college acceptance have gone up—and the achievement gap closes.
At a time when many stakeholders in the education debates are looking for new, silver-bullet shortcuts to educational excellence, Schwarz shows that the best solution is human-centered, rooted in the American tradition of citizen voluntarism, and, most important, achievable. We can provide quality education for all students and close the opportunity gap in this country—and we can do it together.
Eric Schwarz is the founding CEO of Citizen Schools and is currently developing a new social enterprise in higher education. He has written and spoken widely on education and opportunity.  Prior to helping launch Citizen Schools in 1995 he worked as a political organizer, a journalist, and a vice president of City Year. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.
Product Details ISBN: 9780807073452
ISBN-10: 0807073458
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication Date: August 25th, 2015
Pages: 248
Language: English
“Schwarz offers an inspiring chronicle of scholarly triumphs and generous citizen activism, as well as a constructive blueprint for boosting achievement without abandoning public education.”
Publishers Weekly

“A call to action for citizens and educators so that the achievement gap can be closed as rapidly as possible.”
Kirkus Reviews

“What a fun and instructive story of the birth and growth of an important social enterprise, from one of our nation's most insightful social entrepreneurs. The Opportunity Equation offers new perspective on what it will truly take, inside and outside the traditional classroom, to provide an excellent education for all of America’s children. Anyone working, or volunteering, to close opportunity and achievement gaps should read this book.”
—Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach For America and CEO of Teach For All
“Eric Schwarz and Citizen Schools have empowered thousands of low-income children across America so they could graduate college, get terrific jobs, and join the middle class. In The Opportunity Equation, Schwarz shows us what public education needs to look like if America is going to continue to be a leading economic power.”
—Geoffrey Canada, president of the Harlem Children’s Zone and author of Fist Stick Knife Gun
“For twenty years Citizen Schools has been lifting up opportunity from East Durham in North Carolina to East Oakland in California. Now, the organization's visionary founder has laid out a new blueprint for our schools in the twenty-first century, a vision with more mentoring, more time for learning, and more real-world projects—more of all the stuff that our wealthier children already take for granted. Bravo!”
—Edward Fiske, former New York Times education editor and author of The Fiske Guide to Colleges