Format of Original
University of Pennsylvania Press
If the programs spawned by the federal interest in developing human capital contributed to the democratization of secondary schools, they have also had less desirable consequences. They seldom provided the economic benefits their proponents promised, but operated instead to displace economic anxieties onto the schools, deflecting attention from the need for more assertive labor market polices. And, at the same time, they protected the educational advantages of the nation’s most affluent and privileged citizens. This is true even though the conception of equal opportunity that has informed them has actually grown more robust over time as policy has shifted from a focus on teaching specific vocational skills to working-class and immigrant youth to a focus on equipping all students—rich and poor alike—with the cognitive skills that a more fluid, knowledge-based economy presumably requires.