Bloomberg Opinion Spotlights Education Equity Lab’s Efforts to Close the Opportunity Gap

Robert A. George: Higher education in America has long been considered an engine of opportunity, but there’s considerable evidence that the country’s top colleges and universities are failing to deliver on that promise. Low and middle-income students attend selective schools at much lower rates than their similarly qualified, wealthy peers. You’re the founder and chief executive of the National Education Equity Lab, which is trying to address this problem by enrolling underprivileged but high-achieving high school students in real courses offered by selective colleges and universities. Where did this idea come from?

Leslie Cornfeld, founder and CEO, National Education Equity Lab: I spent over a decade as a federal civil rights prosecutor and later worked in New York City on both criminal justice and education issues. I became interested in education equity as the most important civil rights issue of our time. I went on to work on these issues in the Obama administration. While traveling to high schools across the country and meeting the vast talent in these schools, we learned that these students often didn’t think of themselves as college-worthy or as college-ready. They didn’t think that selective colleges were even in their orbit even though it was quite clear that they would do well there. We would then speak to the presidents and provosts at highly selective colleges and universities and would hear that they couldn’t find the talented students in these zip codes. So this is an effort to connect those dots.


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