Lisbeth Schorr

Recent Articles

The O'Connor Project

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, speaking for a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in the University of Michigan affirmative-action case, declared, "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary ... ." What would it take for that to become a reality? In what we might call The O'Connor Project, we would have to commit ourselves to eliminating racial disparities at the starting line and at four subsequent crucial points, each of them involving changes that we already know how to make. By assembling existing knowledge, deepening it and scaling up from current isolated successes, our society could make a long-term commitment to action in each of these five arenas so that minority college applicants of 2028 would be educationally so well-equipped that they would not need the extra help of racial preferences. Here are the concrete steps that would achieve that goal: 1. Eliminating racial disparities in birth outcomes. We could accomplish this by...

What Works: Applying What We Already Know About Successful Social Policy

Three decades of anti-poverty policy have shed much light on the best strategies for helping families.

T he Clinton administration holds as a core belief that long-term economic prosperity requires an educated work force, which in turn requires investment in children, especially those on the margin. That logic puts a premium on assembling information about "what work" in an area where so many believe that nothing works. In the last decade, extensive evidence has shown that the cycle of disadvantage can be broken through systematic societal action. The evidence come from diverse domains, including: School-based health clinics that reduced the rate of teenage childbearing by more than 50 percent within three years and raised the average age at which youngsters became sexually active; Comprehensive prenatal care and nutrition programs that have reduced the proportion of babies born at low birthweight by a third and the proportion of very low birthweight babies by half; Intensive family support, nurse home-visiting, and child care programs that have resulted in rates of child abuse one-...