ON-Lion Letter

In their provocative book Failing Our Brightest Kids:  The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Students, Chester E. Finn, Jr., and Brandon L. Wright argue that, for decades, the United States has done too little to focus on educating students to achieve at high levels.  They identify two core problems:  First, compared to other countries, the U.S. does not produce enough high achievers.  Second, students from disadvantaged backgrounds are severely underrepresented among those high achievers. 

Finn is president emeritus and a distinguished fellow of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C.  Wright is the managing editor and a policy associate at the Fordham Institute.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports the Institute's work on gifted education.

In Failing Our Brightest Kids, forthcoming from Harvard Education Press, Finn and Wright describe educating students to high levels of achievement as an issue of both equity and human capital.  Talented students deserve appropriate resources and attention, they believe, and the nation needs to develop these students' abilities to remain competitive in the international arena.

The book reports on a study of 12 countries and regions to address these issues, exploring the structures and practices that enable some countries to produce a higher proportion of high-achieving students than America and to more equitably represent disadvantaged students among their top scorers.  Based on this research, Finn and Wright present a series of ambitious, but pragmatic points that they believe should inform policy in this area.

Their candid and engaging work takes a topic that is largely discussed behind closed doors and puts it squarely on the table for public debate.

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