Sean Reardon delivered this year’s Brodie Family Lecture, “Race, Income, and the Reduction of Inequality in American Education.” Reardon is the endowed Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education and a professor of sociology at Stanford University. He is the recipient of a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award, a Carnegie Scholar Award, and a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Referred to by many as an “educational epidemiologist,” Reardon uses extensive data and rigorous statistical methods to examine race- and income-related inequalities in American education, determining “where the problems are and how they’re spreading” with an almost public health-like mentality. Showing the audience graphs illustrating trends of educational achievement from the 1900s to today, he pointed out that the race gap seems to be closing, while the income gap is widening – and said that there’s only so much that our educational system, the “great equalizer,” can do about it. Reardon believes that it is up to today’s generation to address not only changes to the educational system but also the greater structures of American societies that contribute to these disparities of opportunity.