The Economic Rationale for Investing in Children: A Focus on Child Care. The Determinants of Elementary and Secondary School Quality

12/01/2001

Debate over the effectiveness of public schools and the determinants of academic and labor market attainment has gone on for decades(5). Two basic questions command a central position in most policy discussions. First, partly resulting from common misinterpretations of the Coleman Report, a surprising amount of controversy continues over whether schools and teachers "make a difference" or not. This issue comes down to a simple one of whether or not there are significant differences among schools and teachers in their abilities to raise achievement or improve other outcomes. Second, controversy exists over how much money matters, i.e., how much each additional dollar improves school quality. This section discusses evidence on each of these questions, focusing on findings most relevant for younger children.