3. America Unequal: Taking on Economic Inequality and Race

3. America Unequal: Taking on Economic Inequality and Race


–before I actually
start, is just recognize the sponsors
for this class. This class has been a
collaborative effort– not just among the teaching
staff, and the panels that we’ve had– but among
many units in the university. And I’m not sure that
we’ve taken a moment to thank them publicly,
and so I’d like to do that. We had several sponsors
of this class– the Center for Comparative
Studies and Race and Ethnicity, the Stanford Center on
Poverty and Inequality– our very own David Grusky
directs that center– the Vice Provost of
Undergraduate Education, the Clayman Institute
for Gender Research, the program on Feminist,
Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the Stanford Center
for American Democracy, the Distinguished
Careers at Stanford, and the Office of the Provost. All of those units have made
very generous contributions to this class to make it happen. And so I want to thank them. But the task at hand
today is to take on inequality and the election. And this class has focused on
three axes of inequalit– those being race, class, and gender. Primary unit hosting
this class is the Center for Comparative
Studies in Race and Ethnicity. And so the topic of
race has been infused into all of those discussions. Today, we raise up the topic
of economic inequality, recognizing fully that none
of these axes of inequality stand on their own, but we
are choosing to emphasize this particular axis. Now, we do so in view of some
long and short term trends related to economic inequality. The long-term trend
is very clear– it is that the American economy
has expanded tremendously– nobody has copyrighted
that word, yet, I think I can still use the
word tremendous– the American economy has expanded over the
last four decades tremendously. And yet the gains that resulted
from that economic expansion have gone to very few. You can slice the data in
a million different ways, and you will ultimately come
to the same conclusion, which is that there are very
few taking home a lot, and keeping a lot, and there are
a lot taking home very little. That’s the long-term
trend, and I think you’ll hear
more about that in the next couple of hours. The short-term picture is
that the economy actually looks pretty good. It’s been about eight
years since the start of the Great Recession,
and in that time, we’ve gone through
what some would say is the worst
economic downturn since the Great Recession. But we are now at a place
where unemployment is under 5%, and wages are rising across
all jobs– although modestly among lower-paid jobs. But I would argue that the
politics of this election has picked up on
the long-term trend. It’s safe to say
that the politics of this presidential
election have struck a distinctly populist tone. Donald Trump has offered
a fairly bleak view of the economy, attributing
the declining fortunes of particularly working class
Americans to a shrinking manufacturing sector, bad trade
deals, immigration, regulation, and taxes. On the Democratic side, really
beginning with Bernie Sanders, there was also a strong
populist tone, and in many ways, Hillary Clinton has taken
up the mantle of populism from the Democratic
side, leaning on a kind of tried and true
script of democratic populism related to raising the
minimum wage, improvements to education, paid family
leave, reducing college debt, and so forth. She has also, in some
ways like Donald Trump, expressed some reticence
about particular trade deals, including the
Trans-Pacific Partnership. But that populism also
has an overtly racial tone to it, especially on the right. Now Donald Trump
has made appeals to working class blacks,
asking them, what do they have to lose, given his
portrayal of their situation in rather bleak terms. But that populist appeal
has been mostly reserved for a white working
class population. And in particular, Donald
Trump has taken on immigration as one of the leading
causes of multiple ills, but including the
decline in the fortunes of the white working class–
although he wouldn’t explicitly put it that way. And the white working class
has responded very favorably– they favor Trump, according
to the latest polls, by about 2 to 1 over
Hillary Clinton. And that populism, that
racially laden populism, have left pundits
to wonder, what is it about the white working
class that finds the Trump message so appealing? Why has America left the
white working class behind? Now interestingly, the
populations that we typically think of– of those
who are most adversely affected by the axes of
inequality that I talked about, particularly blacks
and Latinos, have not caught on to Trump’s appeal. And there are some states
where polling was at near zero in terms of favoring
Trump among blacks. And it appears so far
that Donald Trump will break a record, if
the polls are right– if the polls are right– he
will break a record for having gotten the lowest
Latino vote share in modern presidential history. So today, we take up a couple
of questions with a very distinguished panel. The first question
we take up are how are race and
inequality feeding into the politics of the
presidential election today? But we also want
to look at policy– we’re not just concerned about
the presidential election itself, we’re
concerned about what the next president does about
income and race inequality. And so our panelists
have been asked to take up the
question, what should the next president,
if anything, do about racial and
economic inequality. We have a panel of three
distinguished observers of these trends, and
their solutions to help us answer those questions today. And I’m going to
introduce all of them, and then I’ll ask the first to
come up and offer some remarks. I will then have maybe two short
questions, serving in my role as moderator, and then we’ll
turn it over to all of you to engage in a discussion
with our panelists. So our first panelist
is David Grusky. David Grusky is the Barbara
Kimball Browning professor in the School of
Humanities and Sciences, and he’s the director of the
Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the
co-editor of Pathways Magazine– and you
should have all been able to read the
winter edition of Pathways Magazine for this class. His research addresses
the changing structure of late industrial
inequality, and addresses such topics the role of
rent-seeking and market failure, and explaining the
take off in income inequality; the amount of economic and
social mobility in the US and other high
inequality countries; the role of essentialism,
and explaining the persistence of
extreme gender inequality; and the forces
behind recent changes in the amount of face to
face, online, cross-class interaction. He’s also involved in projects
to improve the country’s infrastructure for monitoring
poverty, inequality, and mobility, by exploiting
administrative and other forms of big data more aggressively. His recent books include
Social Stratification, Occupy the Future,
The New Gilded Age, The Great Recession,
The Inequality Reader, and The Inequality
Puzzle, all of which have been written since 2010. Second panelist is Sean Reardon. Sean Reardon is a professor
of Poverty and Inequality in Education, and
Professor by Courtesy in the Department of Sociology
here at Stanford University. He’s also the director of the
Stanford Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Program, and
Quantitative Education Policy. His research focuses on the
causes, patterns, trends, and consequences of social
and educational inequality; the effects of
educational policy on educational and
social inequality; and in applied
statistical methods for educational research. In addition, he has
developed methods of measuring social and
educational inequality, and methods of causal inference
in educational and social science research. He teaches graduate courses in
applied statistical methods, with a particular emphasis
on the application of experimental and quasi
experimental methods to the investigation of
issues of educational policy and practice. Finally, we have
Dominique Apollon. Dominique Apollon is
a research director at Race Forward, which
is an organization that advances racial justice
through research and media and practice. He has examined the
distribution of toxic wastes in the state of California
from 1989 to 1999, as well as the corresponding
grassroots political activity and participation. Dom has taught undergraduate
seminars on politics and race and
ethnicity at Stanford, as well as a number
of other universities. He has also been on the faculty
in the political science department at California State
University Bakersfield, where he taught courses in
constitutional law, American politics, environmental
politics, and the presidency. He received his doctorate
from our very own Stanford University Department of
Political Science in 2003, and he has co-authored
reports for Race Forward, such as “Don’t call
them post-racial– millennial attitudes
on race, racism, and key systems in our
society,” “The color of food,” “Better together– research
findings on the relationship between racial justice
organizations and LGBT communities,” “Under-protected,
under-supported– low-income children at risk,”
and “Check the colored line– a 2009 income report.” So I’d ask you to join
me in welcoming all three panelists at this time. [APPLAUSE] And I’m going to ask
David Grusky to come forward and share his remarks. Well, thanks for the
kind introduction. It’s a real pleasure to be here. I appreciate the invitation
extended by Tomas, and by Gary. Because time is short, I’m
going to get right to it. I want to take on the
commonly advanced argument that Trump has been especially
successful in exploiting the take-off in income
inequality, the take-off to which Tomas referred, and
has done a good job of building a coalition around that
take-off and its implications. And I have here on the
lead slide, a piece by Richard Reeves of the
Brookings Institution, that lays out the argument that
inequality built the Trump coalition. So what is meant by the claim
that inequality built the Trump coalition? Now, I should say that
Richard Reeves put forward this argument with
a lot of subtlety, and I’m not going to
be able to capture that subtlety– it’s a very,
very compelling argument. But I want to give it
in its broad brush form, and that form simply states
that as Tomas already discussed, there’s been a substantial
take-off in income inequality, the economic growth
of the last 40 years or so has disproportionately
gone to the top 5%, to the top 1%. Whereas, if you’re in the middle
of the income distribution or below, you didn’t
see much of that growth. And then the
argument, furthermore, is that if you haven’t
seen much of the growth of the last several
decades, then you’re vulnerable to an argument
that we can change that, that we can generate a new
economic system that shares the growth more equitably. What I want to argue–
and I should say, there’s a lot of discussion
of this argument, and I’m not going to rehearse
the various counterarguments that have been advanced– but
rather, I want to make a very simple point, and that’s
that this take-off in income inequality is going to be
politically weaponized most effectively, insofar
as you can make the case that the take-off
is driven by, if you will, bad forms of inequality– by
inequality that’s illegitimate. In other words, if you
can make the argument that it’s a rigged system, and
that those who have benefited disproportionately
from economic growth have done so not through
forms of investments that we would see as legitimate. And so I’ll lay out that
argument in more detail. And the question
here– the question here is how can inequality
be politicized in this way. And the basic claim
here– that I’m going to try to pad
out a bit more– is that rising
inequality is going to lead to
dissatisfaction, and hence, be politically weaponized,
insofar as it’s deemed illegitimate. So how do you come to
understand inequality as illegitimate in the context
of a society such as ours that is founded on a commitment
to competitive market economies? Well, you show that
that inequality isn’t the outcome of a
fair and open competition in which merit, talent,
initiative, and drive are rewarded. And in economics terms, you
have to show, in other words, if there is a lot
of rent in play within the economic
system– rent that’s generated because there
are non-competitive processes in play that lead to a rigged
system that allow people to capture economic rewards
without having, if you will, the merit and the marginal
product to justify that capture. So any type of
non-competitive process that leads to economic rewards
in excess of what would prevail within a competitive
economy can be understood as a type of rent– a type of
rigged system, if you will, to use the common parlance. Now, what’s the most frequently
discussed form of rent? It’s probably CEO pay,
and rising CEO pay. Part and parcel of this
take-off in income inequality has been a substantial increase
in CEO pay in many countries, including the US. And many folks– not everyone,
it’s very contentious– but many folks see that
as an example of rent increasingly in play at the
top of the income distribution, as an example of
a rigged system. And the claim is that because
the company’s board essentially sets the CEO’s
compensation package, and because that
board is appointed at the behest of the CEO,
there’s a smoking gun here, if you will, that suggests
that they have an interest to appease the CEO, ensure that
they can remain on the board, and garner, therefore, all
the advantages that board membership implies. So there’s a smoking
gun that suggests it’s a rigged
system, that suggests it’s not the marginal
product of the CEO that’s being rewarded
here, necessarily, but rather there
are good reasons to set a very
liberal compensation package for reasons
of personal interest on the part of those
who are on the board. So goes the argument,
at least, and that’s then seen as the classic
example of rent in play. And in particular rising
rent, insofar as CEO compensation is increasing. So this type of rent,
this growing rent at the top of the
income distribution– as most commonly
revealed in rising CEO pay– this type
of rent is attacked by both Clinton and Trump. They both rail against
this type of rent. Clinton got into that
type of language, perhaps more aggressively,
because of Sanders. But nonetheless, both
have been deploying that kind of rhetoric,
in which they attack growing rent at the top
of the income distribution. They see that type of
increase in inequality as illegitimate, as the
consequence of a rigged system, and they’re both attacking it. So in that sense,
they’re similar. But if you now turn
to the loss of rent, here I think you see big
divergence between the two candidates. So to understand rising
income inequality in the US, you have to add
that there are two types of rent dynamics in play. At the top, there’s an increase
in rent– as, again, evidenced by rising CEO pay. But at the bottom, at the bottom
of the income distribution, there’s a lot of
loss of rent in play. And it’s the combination of
loss of rent at the bottom, and growing rent at the
top, that generates, then, lots of income inequality. So what do we mean
by loss of rent? Well, first off, there’s
loss of class-based rent. And here, the conventional
example is the union wage. So union wage could be
seen as a type of rent– it’s a type of rent that a lot
of us who are liberal like, but it’s rent, nonetheless. It’s rent because
it’s a departure from competitive practices. In effect, you
get the union wage by restricting
competition, by saying that the only folks
who can compete for particular jobs that
are covered by the union are those who are a
member of the union. That protection from
competition allows unions to successfully
negotiate in ways that allow them to set wages
that would be in excess of what prevails under a wholly
competitive system in which everyone can compete
for particular jobs. So it’s a type of rent, it’s a
type of a breach of competition that allows unions to
negotiate successfully on behalf of their members. It’s a type of rent that’s
also inequality reducing, because the benefits
of union membership principally go to folks who
are in the middle or bottom of the income distribution. So it’s a inequality
reducing form of rent. And the big development of our
time is that that kind of rent is in decline, as unions become
ever less common in the US. So that’s a class-based
form of rent. And that’s not the
only type of rent that’s declining at the bottom
of the income distribution. You can also talk about
national border rent. What do we mean by that? Well, insofar as
capital is freed up to be allowed to invest
in other countries, to build, say, manufacturing
facilities in other countries besides the US, that’s
introducing competition to workers in the US from
workers in other countries. And that undermines
their wages, right? So what a worker would
want is, of course, that sort of flow of
capital to be precluded, so that they can be guaranteed
those manufacturing jobs. But insofar as that flow
of capital is allowed, their rent is now under threat. That type of rent’s, of
course, declining, as well. Bad news for folks in
the manufacturing sector. And that’s not all. There’s also what might
be called gender rent. We know– we know from lots
of good research, some of it carried out here–
that if you’re a woman, and in particular,
a mother, you’re going to be at a disadvantage
at the point of hiring. And that’s a type of rent. It’s the type of rent that
actually transfers money from women to men,
because it means that a man is operating
with protection from full competition. The man is being
protected from competition from highly skilled women who,
absent that discrimination, would be contenders for
the job in question. But insofar as there’s
discrimination, insofar as employers have
tastes for one gender category over another,
then it’s going to privilege the preferred
category– in this case, men– and that’s a type of rent. It’s a transfer of money, in
effect, from women to men. Now, that type of rent is,
again, surely still in play, but less prominent likely now
than was the case in the past. And the same, the
exact same story, prevails with respect to race. That type of rent is in play
in the same sorts of ways– still clearly present,
but arguably less so now than in the past. So the upshot is there’s
lots of destruction of rent going on at the bottom
of the income distribution. Destruction of rent that’s
increasing inequality. And think about what it
means for the white male in the manufacturing
sector– that white male in the manufacturing
sector is losing out with respect to all of these
types of rent destruction. And the claim, then, is that
Trump– unlike Clinton– is all in when it comes
to rent restoration. He wants to get that rent back. And that’s an
appealing argument. Now, I should say here
that the folks who are beneficiaries of this
rent may not see it as rent. They may see, in fact,
that in the past, it was just a fair return
for merit, and initiative, and drive. And now it’s a rigged system,
in which that fair return is being undermined. That would be how
it’s represented, but in fact, based on the best
empirical analyses available, that’s a misrepresentation. It’s rent that was very
much in play in the past, maybe slightly dissipated
now– still in play now– but slightly dissipated as just
a matter of a loss of rent, a loss of advantage
on the part of, say, African Americans– sorry, on
the part of whites and men. So the claim that I’m
making to this point is that Trump is
all in– he’s all in when it comes
to rent restoration at the bottom of the
income distribution. All in– all types of rent
that were once very, very well-developed should be
restored to the level that prevailed earlier. Whereas Clinton, by
contrast, is less sympathetic to rent restoration
as an across the board policy. She’s going to pick and choose. Some types of rent
should be restored. Other types of rent are
wholly illegitimate, and the process of
rent destruction should continue apace. So why is she not all in when
it comes to the rent restoration project, in the way that Trump
is all in, I would contend? Well, because she has
other commitments, right? She has, for example, an
egalitarian commitment. And that commitment to
the egalitarian project will sometimes
trump a commitment to a rent restoration project. So because she has this
egalitarian commitment, she’s not going to be all in
when it comes to restoring rent that in the past,
privileged whites and men– the egalitarian commitment will
be more important than the rent restoration commitment. Unlike what’s the
case for Trump. The other commitment
that Clinton has, that I think undermines this
full-throated rent restoration commitment, is commitment
to the growth project. So she wants economic
growth, and she’s not willing to support rent
restoration if she’s convinced that there’s going to be
substantial cost with respect to growth. And that means that some
trade agreements– not all, but some trade
agreements– are going to be looked upon
sympathetically by Clinton, and not by Trump. So I want to step
back a bit– and this is what Tomas asked us
to do– step back a bit, and say, no matter who
wins this race, what are the kinds of challenges
they’re going to face in the context of these
changes in the dynamics of rent that I’ve sought to layout here? And I think if you
look at the landscape, you look at the
dynamics of rent, and how those
dynamics are changing, you have to be impressed by how
many people have grievances, and how difficult
it’s going to be to satisfy all those
folks who have grievances. So now, some of these grievances
are pretty unsurprising. So let’s say you’re
a woman, and you have read the best
social science, and have experienced the
implications of that research, and you know that there’s lot
of discrimination in play, at the point of, say, hiring. That’s pretty
illegitimate, and you’re going to have a
grievance to the effect that we’re not living
up to our commitment as a country that says it should
be a fair and open competition, that merit should prevail,
that hard work, initiative, and drive should prevail,
and that everyone should have a fair shot no
matter their gender. And you’re going to hold
Clinton’s feet to the fire and say, yeah, we shouldn’t
have discrimination in this country– it’s not what
a full and honest competition is about. And you’re going to
have a grievance. And Clinton’s going to
have to deal with that. And the same kind of
argument holds with respect to blacks and immigrants, who
also experience discrimination at the point of
hiring and elsewhere. That’s a type of rent
extraction, as I’ve argued. And folks who are suffering
by virtue of that type of rent extraction have a grievance. And they’ll prosecute
it, and rightly so. That’s not surprising, right? But here’s another
type of grievance that’s perhaps a little
more surprising– those folks who are losing rent. Still benefiting from
it, but losing it a bit, they also have grievances. So for example, think
about white rent– many whites who benefit from
rent in this way benefit, say, from hiring discrimination
that privileges whites, would deny that there’s rent. And when they see that a loss
in those advantages over time, they see that as evidence of
a rigged system now in play, rather than simply the loss
of some of the advantages that have historically
been very profound. And are still very much in play,
but perhaps a little bit less so. Same deal with male
rent– they want the previous more substantial
rent to be restored, males do, and so they have grievances. Same with class rent. So working class folks would
like the more substantial rent that they had in the past to be
restored– they want the union wage to be restored. They see unions as a way in
which the power and balance between employers and
employees can be rectified, and think that that union
commitment should be renewed. And that more rent of
that sort should be drawn. So all of these
folks are ones who are losing rent–
they still have some, but they’re losing
rent, and they have grievances as a result. Now here’s a
final type of grievance that’s perhaps a bit surprising. Even those who are
getting lots of rent, and arguably getting more over
time, still have a grievance. So think about those folks
at the very top, say CEOs- most people, not
everyone, but most people think that’s a form of rent
extraction that’s in play. And it seems to be an ever
more successful form of rent extraction– and they
still have grievances. They think they’re being paid
precisely what they’re worth– maybe not even as
much as they’re worth. They feel that they’re
not being appreciated for all the jobs they
create, and hence, they have grievances. And they’re going to
prosecute them, as well. So all of this means is
that the next president’s got a lot of grievances
to deal with, and perhaps they could
be adequately dealt with if we were living
in a high growth society. But it’s very
unlikely that we’re going to get back to
the level of growth that prevailed in the early
part of the 20th century. And hence, it’s going to be a
difficult terrain to negotiate. Last slide– just to summarize
where I sought to lay out here. So the argument
that I’ve made is that Trump is really the
rent candidate– the rent restoration candidate. That’s what makes him tick. He’s committed, he’s
all in to restoring rent– all types of rent. If there’s lots of
rent in the past, and there’s not
as much now, we’ve got to get back to the past
and get that rent back up. And it doesn’t matter if it’s
inequality generating rent or not. So if, for example, if
it’s equality generating rent, if it’s the kind of
rent that privileges, say, the manufacturing
sector and workers in the manufacturing
sector, he’s fine in trying to restore
that type of rent. But if it’s
inequality generating rent– race rent, gender rent–
he wants to restore that, too. Just wants to get back to the
levels of rent that prevailed before . That’s not the coalition
that inequality built– it’s rather the coalition
that rent restoration built. So I think the
tagline is a bit off– it’s all about restoring rent. It’s not about dealing
with inequality. And Clinton, by contrast,
is committed to the rent restoration project only if
it’s equality generating. So her commitment to
reducing inequality is far more substantial than her
commitment to restoring rent. So she’s going to pick and
choose among the types of rent that are in play,
and only commit to restoring forms of rent
that will reduce inequality. And I’ll leave it at that. Thank you [APPLAUSE] Now we have Sean Reardon. Thank you. Thank you, Tomas, for the
invitation to be here. And thank you all for coming
out on an anxious election eve– when you’ve probably
heard more than you want to about this election. So I have to say, I very
much enjoyed David’s insight into what drives some
of the politics here. I am not going to
be as insightful about the politics
of the election, because I’m not a
political scientist, nor a political
analyst of any sort. And what I study is really
education and educational opportunity– which have been
virtually nonexistent as topics of discussion in
this election cycle. I have no idea what a President
Trump would advocate for, other than maybe getting
rid of the Federal Department of Education, because
he hasn’t spoken about it, he hasn’t got
policy papers on it, he hasn’t talked about
who his advisers would be. And the only reason I have
some idea of what a President Clinton would do is because
she has a longer track record on these issues– not because
she’s really talked about them in this election cycle. Other than Bernie
Sanders, who talked a lot about higher education and
college debt, and trying to reduce or eliminate
the cost of college, and eliminate college
debt, there really hasn’t been much conversation
about education and educational opportunity in this election. Secretary Clinton has talked
about the college issue– really, I think, prodded on
because Bernie Sanders was talking about it,
and she sort of needed to in order to
signal to his coalition that she was their person. But there’s been virtually no
substantive discussion of it. I saw two of the three
debates, and there wasn’t a single question
about education. So we really know very little,
from the candidates, about what they would do about education. Clinton has been very active in
advocating for early childhood education in the past. I read one interview
with her in The Atlantic where she talks a lot about
early childhood education. So my best guess is she’ll care
somewhat about early childhood education. But really, we don’t
have any specifics. So rather than
speculate, I thought I would share with you some
findings from recent research that I and some
others have done, and give some advice to our next
president, whoever that might be, about the kind
of things he or she should think about in terms
of education and educational opportunity. How do I go forward? There we go. So four pieces of advice. One is, if we’re really going
to think about education and educational
opportunity, you have to attend to the vastly
unequal distribution of educational opportunity
in the United States. So this is a picture based on
new data that I’ve assembled, and this is a picture
of the average test scores– the average academic
performance of the 12,000 school districts in
the United States. Purple means scoring
below average on tests, green above average. The distance from those dark
green to those dark purples is about five grade
levels of difference. So we live in a country
where, depending where you live, the
opportunities to do well in school vary dramatically. And you can see large parts of
the South and parts of the West are very low in terms of
educational opportunity. Other parts of the
country, particularly along the eastern seaboard, much
higher education opportunity. I think it’s important to
refer to this as measures of education opportunity and
not just measures of test score, because the only
reason you would see these systematic
differences in test scores is if there’s systematic
differences in opportunity. And those might be opportunities
provided by the schools, but it also might
be opportunities– or the lack of opportunities–
due to neighborhood conditions, due to the availability
of preschool programs, or high quality childcare,
and due to the resources that families can provide
in home and out of school. So think of this as a map
of educational opportunity in America. And you can see, we have a lot
of inequality of opportunity to consider. This is those same data,
but now each dot here is a school district,
and the horizontal axis represents the socioeconomic
conditions in that school district, with the– I’m trying
to get my left from my right. Your left, is the more
poor, socioeconomically disadvantaged school
districts, and the right is the more affluent ones. And the vertical axis–
which has kind of crept over into the middle of
the picture there– is a measure of the average
achievement in that school district, measured
in grade levels. And so again, you can see this
very, very strong relationship between the socioeconomic
conditions where kids grow up, and their performance. So we live in a
society where we have a lot of economic segregation,
and where that’s very related to the opportunities kids have. So if we’re going to think
about educational opportunity from a federal
policy perspective, I think we need to
take this into account. Now, it wasn’t always
quite this dramatic. This is a feature of
Macs, I’ve noticed– they migrate the vertical things
into the middle of the picture. So sorry about that. But this is a picture
of the achievement gap between high and low
income students– that’s the black
line– and achievement gaps between white and
black, and white and Hispanic students– those of the
blue and the red lines. The trends in those
achievement gaps over the last 60 or so years. And the story
here, in some ways, mirrors the story of the rise
of economic inequality in United States– that is
the achievement gap, the difference in
educational opportunities and performance between high
and low income children– has grown dramatically, starting
with kids born in the mid ’70s through today. So now those gaps are much
larger than the racial gaps, whereas in the 1950s
and ’60s, the gaps between high and
low income children were much smaller
than the racial gaps. In some ways you can think of
this as the story of inequality in the second half of the
20th century in America– that is the ’50s
and ’60s were an era of enormously high racial
inequality in every dimension of life, and historically
low economic inequality. And now we live in an
era of historically high economic inequality, and
still quite high racial inequality, but not as high as
it was in the ’50s and ’60s. The achievement gaps trace out
those patterns of opportunity. So I think, to background any
conversation about education policy, it’s useful to have
these stylized facts in mind. The second thing I think we have
to consider in education, as in other domains of
life, both race and class are still really salient. So there’s a kind of a
politics of post-racialism, or the post-racial fantasy, that
is that what really matters now is economic inequality, and
that we’ve finished racial. And we have a black
president, and so aren’t we kind of done with that? And I think the Black Lives
Matters movement, and the kind of conversations about
race that this country has been having over
the past few years– in particular around
police violence, and racial inequality in
criminal justice system– is partly, in some
ways, a conversation about the fact that race still
really matters in America, or an argument about whether
it really matters in America. And I think in the
education data, it’s easy to see that race
and class still matter. So for example, this picture
shows that your probability of going to an elite
selective college, depending on the
income of your parents. And so on the far left here
is the poorest families, and the far right is
the richest families. And so if you’re born to
a family whose income is in the 60th or 70th or 80th
percentile of the income distribution, or
below, your chance of going to a very selective
college are quite low. But they go up
dramatically if you’re born into a family at, say,
90th or 95th percentile of the income distribution. So income clearly matters. Now it doesn’t matter just
because your parents can pay for that–
that’s not really why this graph looks the way it is. It looks like that because
of the picture I showed you before, which is that kids who
grow up in high income families have a whole lot more
educational opportunities– both at home, but also
in their neighborhoods, their communities,
and their schools. And it’s that that gets
them the kind of preparation and the credentials
that gets them admitted to a highly selective college. It’s not driven by actual
ability to pay for college, it’s driven by ability to
pay for the kind of community where you get lots
of opportunities. That’s where that comes from. So that’s the income story. But what does it look like
if we look at it by race? If race didn’t matter, you’d
see the line for black students, and white students, and Hispanic
students look exactly the same here– so it wouldn’t
matter what race you were, it would just matter
what income you were. So this is what the lines
look like for whites, blacks, and Hispanic students. And you can see at any level
of the income distribution– but particularly at the top
of the income distribution– your chances of going to a
selective college are much, much higher if you’re white than
if you’re black or Hispanic, and have exactly the
same family income. Now, we know there’s not as
many black and Hispanic families at the top of the
income distribution, so they’re more
likely to be down in the lower half of
the income distribution. But even among
those who are, they have a much, much
lower chance of going to a selective college– they
have much less chance of living in a kind of community where
they have high quality schools, and lots of opportunities. So there is a dimension
here in which race matters above and beyond class, or class
matters above and beyond race. That is to say, they’re
both still quite salient. Every kind of educational
data we look at shows this same kind of pattern. So when we’re thinking
about educational equality, we can’t just move to a
race-blind, economic set of policies when we’re thinking
about, say, affirmative action, or we’re thinking
about desegregation, or anything like that. We’ve got to still, I think,
keep race in the equation. And so that suggests that the
third thing to think about is that we’ve got to combat
residential and school segregation, because
there are major obstacles to equal opportunity. So this is not easy
to do, but let me just show you some of the patterns. So my colleague,
Kendra Bischoff, and I looked at patterns
of segregation by income over the last 40
years in the United States. And so, this picture shows
you the proportion of families who live in either very poor
communities, or very affluent communities– the affluent
communities are blue, the poor communities
are red– or kind of middle class communities,
those light blue and pink colors. And in 1970, two thirds of all
families in the United States lived in middle class,
mixed-income communities, and only one in six
lived in either a really affluent community, or
a really poor community. By 2012, only 40%
of families lived in those mixed-income
middle class communities, and over a third lived in either
very affluent or very poor communities. So we’ve gradually,
over the last 40 years, become a much more economically
segregated society. Which means that,
if you’re poor, not only does your family
have fewer resources than if you were
middle class or rich, but you’re much more
likely now to live in a very poor neighborhood
than you were 40 years ago. And so you’re sort of
doubly disadvantaged by both the limitations of your
family’s resources, but also the limitations of
your neighborhood resources. But it’s not only
economic segregation that matters– racial
segregation is still quite pronounced in
the United States. So one way of measuring
racial segregation is just to sort of look at how
racial segregation patterns intersect with
economic patterns. So if you just say, what’s
the average proportion of poor students in
a student’s school, or what proportion
of students go to schools with high
numbers of poor students? This is one way of
looking at that. So if we characterize a
high poverty school as one in which 75% of the students
are eligible for free or reduced price lunch– that
is, they’re relatively poor– 48% of black and Hispanic
students in the United States go to high poverty schools. Only 7.5% of white students
go to high poverty schools. And school poverty is a
very, very strong predictor of the quality of
the school– it’s very hard to have high
quality schools consistently in conditions of
very high poverty. It’s hard to attract
good teachers, the conditions are often worse,
the neighborhoods are often not as good, and there’s lots of
other stresses, and so on. So the fact that we
have racial segregation also means that we have
these big differences in the quality of schools that
black, Hispanic, and white students attend. And one way to see that
is to look at this. So on the horizontal
axis here is the difference in
the poverty rates of white and black students’
schools– so zero means white and black students
in this school district go to equally poor
and unpoor schools. And the further over
that way you go, the more high poverty the
black students’ schools are, relative to white students. And then the
vertical measure here is a measure of
the achievement gap between black and white students
in that school district. And you can see this
very clear pattern that school districts with a
big disparity in the poverty rates of the schools of
black and white students also have the very
largest achievement gaps. Those achievement gaps are
the places on the far right, are more than
three grade levels. And so these are very,
very big achievement gaps. But the other thing to
notice is that even in places with no segregation–
that is the places here on the left– you still
have a big achievement gap. Segregation is not the only
thing driving the achievement gap, but it’s a big driver
of the achievement gap. And so if we’re going to
think about this in equality of educational
opportunity, we’ve got to take on segregation. Now this is hard
to do, because it means thinking about
housing policy, and school policy together–
you can’t solve the segregation problems just with schools. You’ve got to think
about housing policy. And so that’s a more
complicated challenge for our next president. And the fourth
thing I would say is if we’re going to
address these issues, we’ve really got to focus on
not just on the K-12 system, not just on the college
system, not just on preschool, but all of them. That is, there’s not a
single silver bullet here. There’s evidence– we know
how to improve preschools, we know how to improve
access to college, we know how to
improve K-12 schools, but we know how to do that
all in small marginal ways, and none of that
is going to do it at the kind of
scale we need to do. So Bernie Sanders, and
now Hillary Clinton, have made a point of
talking about making college affordable. If you look at the work of
our colleague, Raj Chetty, this is a picture
that he made showing the probability of
going to any college, depending on your
parents’ income. And so, if you’re born
in the bottom 10% or 20% of family income, you
have maybe a 30% chance of going to any college at
all– community college, four-year college, whatever. And if you’re born to
one of the more affluent, high income families, you have
a 90% chance going to college. So there’s a big gradient. Now, will making college
free change this very much? Not if we don’t also change
the preparation for students. So it’s, I think, appealing to
say, we’ll make college free, and that’s going to change that. But if students aren’t
well-prepared for college, if they aren’t equally
well-prepared, regardless of their background,
we’re still going to have similar disparities. You might move the
bottom up a notch, but you’re not going
to move it dramatically without changing preparation. So how do we change K-12
preparation for schooling? Well, we haven’t heard
much about it this cycle, but a lot of the conversation
in the education policy circles is an argument about should
we use market-based reform? Should we have charter schools? Should we have vouchers? Should we have school choice? Should we try to use the
market in order to do that? There’s very little evidence
that the market alone does a whole lot to
improve education. If you really want
to improve education, you have to think
about what can you do to change what goes
on in the classroom? And the best way to
do that is to think about how you train
teachers, and to think about the curriculum
and standards. So things like the
common core standards probably have more
chance of changing the kind of things that
go on in classroom, or improvements in teacher
education programs. They’re not as sexy, maybe,
or as talking-point friendly as things like, use the
market to improve education. But what happens
in school really happens in the classroom,
and so you really have to think about training
teachers and changing what it is they focus
their instruction on. The federal government
doesn’t have a lot of leverage to do that– the states have
the leverage to do that. They control the curriculum. They get to adopt the Common
Core, or any other curriculum. So the federal government
under the Obama administration tried to push states to
adopt Common Core standards, and there was a big political
backlash against that. So we have a hodgepodge system
where some states now are on board with that, and
other states aren’t. But the federal government
doesn’t have an enormous amount of say in this. So thinking about K-12
education, I think, means focusing on what
happens in the classroom. And then lastly, focusing
on preschool education. I mean, the best way to
make K-12 schools good is to make sure
kids get to school with a kind of equal start,
and ready for school. If we look at the
achievement gap by income, this is a study that
follows children from kindergarten all the
way through eighth grade, and at each wave
of this study, I measured the size of
the achievement gap by income– that’s this axis. And you can see it’s almost as
big at kindergarten– almost as big, even at age four,
as it is in eighth grade. Achievement gaps don’t really
develop in K-12 years– they’re there when
kids get to school. So if you want to move towards
more equal opportunity, doing it in early
childhood is a key time. We know a lot about
the importance of early childhood education,
high-quality preschool. There’s great
examples in Boston, in Tulsa, and some other
places around the country, of high-quality
preschools that really do a great job of getting
low-income children ready for school. And those kinds of
models can be scaled up. The Obama administration put
some money out there for states to take, and a lot of
states didn’t take it up. But I think continuing
to incentivize states to invest more in the pre-K
system will go a long way, I think, towards narrowing this. So I have little doubt that our
next president will focus a lot on education, because it’s
not been a salient topic, but it’s always an
important topic. And so I think it’s
always important to have these kind of stylized
facts and ideas in the background
of the conversation, so that when education
gets on the front burner, we know the right
way to talk about it. So I’ll leave it there. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thanks so much Tomas, and
CCSRA and all of the other sponsors for inviting
me to this talk. Yes, my name is Dom Apollon,
I’m the research director for an organization– a national
nonprofit organization– called Race Forward. Our three areas of work are
research, media, and practice. Our mission is actually to
build awareness, solutions, and leadership for
racial justice. And yeah, some of
you may know us through our online news
site called colorlines.com– we’re the publisher
of colorlines.com. We also have a biannual
conference on racial justice, it’s called Facing Race–
it’s actually happening this week in Atlanta, Georgia. And unfortunately,
it’s all sold out, but you can follow us on
our hashtag, facing race. So please do check us out there. As far as racial justice, our
definition at Race Forward is “the systemic fair treatment
of people of all races that results in
equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone.” It’s critical here that
those two term, systemic and outcomes– for us it’s not
just about equal opportunity. It is actually about really
keeping an eye on outcomes. And the racial disparities
that we see in our country, we see those as evidence of
racism– evidence of what we would call systemic racism. So the four different
dimensions of racism, or two different
levels that I’ll talk about here– individual
level racism on the left, and systemic racism
on the right. We focus, again, mainly
on systemic racism. Most of us think about,
internalize, and interpersonal levels of racism. So internalized being your
own feeling of self-worth, people might use
skin-lightening creams. We have seen this in
our country and others, interpersonal racism– so
interactions between people, our own prejudices. And the tension–
race relations. Those are important
areas of racism. And again, those are
the traditional ways that we really think
about racism are those individual levels. But at Race Forward, we
really want to focus and bring more and more attention
to systemic levels of racism– institutional
and structural. So again, briefly,
just going over those. So institutional racism occurs,
again, within institutions and involve
discriminatory treatment. Unfair policies and practices–
so policies and practices that impact the opportunities,
and ultimately outcomes. So one example would
be school systems, as Sean was mentioning, that
concentrate people of color, and overcrowded
schools, underfunded, least-experienced teachers. Structural racism is racial bias
across institutions in society. So it’s, again, the cumulative
and compounding effects of multiple factors that
systematically privilege white people, and
disadvantage people of color. One of the examples we provide,
we like to think about, is the racial wealth
divide, as well. So again, this is racism
that cuts across institutions and societies. And there are
different strategies to address these different
levels of racism. So it could be support
groups for racial healing for internalized racism,
or interpersonal diversity trainings. For us, focusing on
the bottom two here– institutional racism–
it’s about changing policies and practices. And what I’m going
to talk about today is, in terms of changing
employment practices. And structural racism,
highlighting the history, the root causes of
the racial disparities that we see in our country. Changing myths about work and
initiative for people of color, in particular. So I’m going to show this
brief little video here about– taking us back to 2008. And we talked about–
there was a lot of talk about this dawn
of a post-racial America. So this is a few
talking heads pundits, the night of the election. [BEGIN VIDEO PLAYBACK] – This turns out to be
the case, President Obama. We have just achieved an
incredible milestone– for which the world needs
to have more respect for the United States,
and sometimes– – Well, since we are about
to elect the first African American as president,
it is a very significant historical fact. And I take it, therefore,
around the world, criticism of the United States for being
a racist nation will now stop, right? – The politics of racial
grievance die tonight. No longer can people
use the excuse of being black by other people. This former
slave-holding republic has demonstrated to the world,
beyond question, its commitment to democracy and inclusion. [END VIDEO PLAYBACK] So, “its commitment to
democracy and racial inclusion,” as we know, things like the
treatment of President Obama have shown quite
clearly that we did not enter a post-racial era. Just hitting one
important milestone did not vacate all the
other barriers that continue exist in so many other areas. As Sean had mentioned, as
well, Black Lives Matter, and the attention that
it’s brought to issues of systemic racism,
institutional racism within police departments,
as well– this is one of the first elections
I can think of where the term systemic racism
actually came up in one of the presidential debates. Dom, do you just
want to [INAUDIBLE] [SIDE CONVERSATION] And in terms of
employment outcome– so, thinking about
racial inequality, I want to focus in on
some of the research that we’ve done on employment. Occupational segregation–
so people of color really being shuttered
into low income industries, particularly women of color
being in domestic work. Also occupational segregation
within industries, in sort of the lower paying
occupations, as well. So we did some research
and partnership with some work organizations,
Restaurant Opportunities Center United– amazing organization. Another one, National
Domestic Workers Alliance, and the Retail Action
Project of New York. So we looked at we looked
at some government data, as well, in terms of
the poverty rates. And so this is featured on
our clockingin.org website, as well. So looking at poverty rates, if
you’re just looking at the red here, it’s the poverty rates–
this is for white males within the retail industry,
from 1980 down to 2010 and 2012 at the bottom. As I toggle through–
males of color, you can see that as
the red is increasing, we’re having increased
rates of poverty, in terms of the individuals
employed in that industry. For white women, as well,
slightly higher than rates of poverty than men of
color in the industry. And then for women
of color– this is something we saw in
multiple industries, was the higher poverty
rates for women of color. So as high as 20% there
in that 2012 data. Looking at the
restaurant industry, it’s a similar thing–
this is white males, men of color, white
females over 20– just over 20% in the
restaurant industry. And women of color, as well,
upwards of 25%, 26% and higher. We also see, in
terms of disparities, in terms of the high income. So if you look at
the right here, the green-ish sections
of these bar graphs. So the top there says,
it’s females of color, then white females, then males
of color, and then white males. So this is within the restaurant
industry– the higher incomes, those who make $60,000 or
more, $75,000 or more– that bottom graph is white males. You have a higher percentage of
white males in the restaurant industry who make
those higher incomes. It’s much smaller slivers
for women of color, for white women, in particular. This is when we look at
managers of food establishments, as well. These are all racial
disparities that we see– and they cut across many,
many different industries. And this is just looking
at the raw numbers, in terms of the distribution
in the industry. So white men are not the
majority of the employees in the restaurant industry, at
the bottom there you can see, but they are the majority
of the managers of food establishments. So we partnered with
these work organizations to conduct focus groups to
learn more about the worker experiences, like what
types of discrimination are workers
experiencing nowadays? And this is something
that you can look at, at that Clocking-In site,
and sort of role play a bit, in terms of some of the workers. We heard about discrimination
in terms of hiring, in terms of wages,
in terms of what types of hours that
they’re able to secure. The treatment–
how they’re treated by their managers, how rules are
enforced differently by race. The distribution of benefits,
mobility– to what extent they’re able to actually
get promoted, as well. This is something we really
seen in the restaurant industry, in particular, where black
and Latino workers in the back of the house aren’t
getting opportunities to get employed in the higher
wage front of the house positions. Now all those areas,
it’s technically illegal to discriminate against
workers across all those different aspects
of the workplace. So Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from
discriminating against workers on the basis of race,
color, religion, sex, and national origin, and
created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well. And they get upwards of 90,000
employment discrimination claims every year. That statute actually
requires them to investigate each and every one of those. And actually, if a
worker wants to bring up a claim or a lawsuit against
their employer for employment discrimination,
they actually have to wait for what’s called a
right to sue authorization from the EEOC. So in theory, our system–
we have a new report coming out, actually, this
week, as well– it’s called, “Confronting racial bias at
work– challenges and solutions to 21st century employment
discrimination.” And so that will be
available on our website, just this Thursday. And we look at– I’m not
going to obviously ask you to look at all the
words here on the screen, but just want to think
about the different stages of the employment
discrimination system. And again, this is something
that our future president can address– and I’m also going to
ask you to think about the role that you as consumers can
play, as far as inequality in our employment system. So there’s basically
six basic stages of how our antidiscrimination
system should work, in theory. The first is the
work experience– a worker experiences
discrimination, and lodges an internal complaint at their
work that is not resolved. The worker, if they
want to take it further, would initiate a Title
VII claim with the EEOC– so that’s filing
a formal charge, and they wait for the
EEOC to investigate. Now the EEOC, as many of you
may know, or can imagine, is not most well-resourced
of federal agency. And so they’re
under-resourced, and it’s very difficult for them
to investigate each of these claims very quickly. So you have the stage three,
where the EEOC is theoretically supposed to investigate
each of those claims, decide whether or not it’s
going to get involved itself, it may help the workers, or it
could actually join a lawsuit, or try to negotiate the
claims with the employer. Or give it this right to sue
authorization for the workers. So the next stage is a Title
VII– some type of dispute, so the worker would make a
case against her employer. It could be as part of a
larger class action lawsuit. If she’s lucky, it’s with
the EEOC formal assistance. And again, there would be
either pre-court negotiations to get some type
of a settlement, and/or to change the
actual employment practices in the workplace. So that could happen either
in a negotiation settlement, or before a court, or
during a court case. And you know, some
of these disputes actually do go all the way
to a jury trial and decision. After that, there’s some type
of either targeted compensation for the worker or
workers, and the employer promises to make some
changes in their practices that will be monitored by
the EEOC, federal courts, or others. And ideally, the EEOC
helps spread the news to other employers,
or other employers hear about these cases,
and change their practices so that the benefits of that
dispute can be spread further. So that we can have
employment practices that will lead to more
equitable outcomes. So it’s a bit complicated
in that there are those six different stages,
but theoretically, it should work pretty simply
through that system. But in practice, there are a lot
of barriers that disadvantage workers in that system. And what we’ve been hearing
from worker advocates is that the Title VII system
really doesn’t work well, that worker workers don’t
have much trust in it, they don’t feel
that they really are going to– it’s really going
to end up benefiting them. So in our report, we talk about
many of the different barriers. And so we just give a bird’s
eye view of the barriers that disadvantage workers
in the Title VII system. It’s a case by case,
slow case by case system, and it’s really reactive. It’s dealing with
the discrimination after it has occurred. So there are things like
forced arbitration clauses, confidential negotiated
settlements– these are some aspects of the law,
actually, that the law actually requires some confidentiality,
in some respects protects employers, but on
the other hand, it doesn’t allow us
to better understand what practices are actually
impacting the outcomes. So I’m going to skip through
these systemic barriers, but want to make the
point that the EEOC does impose non-monetary remedies
on employers, including– it’s going to be to the
second one– requiring hirings or promotions by race,
targeted recruitment by race, as well, upgrading HR policies. So once an employer
has been found guilty, or negotiated a set
course of action, these are some of the
things that the EEOC does require of them. Record-keeping requirements,
progress and performance reports, as well, or internal
or external monitors. But generally, there
is limited assessment– there’s really limited
assessment of the work of these non-monetary remedies. So the EEOC, from
our vantage point, really needs to do a better
job of understanding which of these specific remedies
are key to actually changing practices. So I’m going to skip through,
in the interest of time, and say that in our new report–
it’s “Confronting racial bias at work”– we argue that we need
to shore up our reactive system of antidiscrimination– so the
Title VII system that has been created. But we also need to provide
more equity pressures, and more incentives, and ultimately
mandates for employers. So we need to have more
proactive solutions to address employment
discrimination on the front end, as
opposed to dealing with it after it has already occurred. And so we can do this in many
ways, but my charge to you all is that, it’s
important for consumers, who are racial and social
justice inclined in particular, to support businesses,
to support efforts to have like fair food
labels, to make sure that we’re able to put that
pressure, ideally, on employers to ultimately to voluntarily
implement the best employment practices that are ultimately
going to change racial justice outcomes. So I’ll leave it at that. [APPLAUSE]

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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