LLS On-Campus

LLS On-Campus

Fall 2016:

Education in America (LLS 173)
Meets Tuesdays, 7 – 9:30 p.m.
Sept. 13 - Nov. 8, but not Oct. 11
Kohlberg Hall, Room 228

This course looks at education in America, from elementary school through college. Education is talked about as if it were the magic elixir of American life. It is considered the mechanism for upward mobility, the solution to reducing economic inequality, the engine for increased economic productivity and prosperity. At the same time, there is a general perception that American schools are failing America’s youth, that the system is broken. This course examines the degree to which any of this is true.

Major topics:

  • What is the relationship between educational achievement (skills acquired) and attainment (years of school completed) and lifetime earnings? Why does this relationship exist?
  • Does it pay to attend an elite college?
  • What is the relationship between expenditure on education and student achievement and attainment? Why is this relationship so weak?
  • How unequal is expenditure on education in America across school districts and why? To what degree does this limit the promise of education as a mechanism for upward mobility and the reduction of economic inequality?
  • How can education in America be reformed to improve student achievement? To what degree do market-style reforms, like school choice, for profit schools, etc., improve student achievement?

The professor:

Mark Kuperberg, Professor of Economics and a member of the Swarthmore faculty since 1977. He served on his local school board for 12 years, so this course is partially informed by his years in the trenches. He has been a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, and the Wharton Business School. Previously he taught three LLS courses, “Law and Economics,” “Self-Interest and Society,” and “The Great Recession.”

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