2005: The Social Costs of Inadequate Education

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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Center for Educational Equity

Social Costs of Inadequate Education

October 24th and 25th at Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University

On October 24 and 25, 2005 Teachers College sponsored a two-day symposium on the “Social Costs of Inadequate Education.” The symposium was part of the College's broader mission of working to close the nation's gap in educational equity – the growing difference in educational expectations, opportunities and outcomes that separates wealthier students from their poorer, chiefly non-white peers. Teachers College was founded more than a century ago to improve the education of New York City 's poor. The current focus on equity reinforces the founding mission of the College and draws upon the extensive teaching, research, and service of faculty in behalf of improving educational equity.

The Symposium, at which Congressman Charles B. Rangel of New York's 15th District delivered the opening remarks, highlighted a major social rationale for seeking greater fairness in education for all populations. Major segments of society are not provided with education adequate to meet the requirements for full participation in American society, which at its most basic level is high school graduation. Due to this inadequate education, costs are imposed not only on these populations and their families, but on society. The costs to the latter are very high and are often underestimated because they are not obvious or accounted for in a standard way. Such social costs are found in a sacrifice of national income, productivity, and tax revenues, as well as in the public costs and other deleterious impacts of impaired health, crime, homelessness, public assistance, and the spawning of a new generation of at-risk students. The purpose of the conference was to document the extent of educational inequities as well as both the magnitudes and consequences of social costs imposed when major segments of society are poorly educated. An attempt was made to compare the returns to society of improving educational equity and reducing inadequate education.

The symposium was chaired by Professor Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College.

It was held on October 24 and 25, 2005, at Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University.