More than a half century of research, both here and abroad, has documented a powerful association between social and economic disadvantage and low student achievement. Given high U.S. rates of child poverty, weakening that link is the fundamental challenge facing America’s education policy makers.
Our education policies have not lived up to that challenge, however. While schools can—and have—helped to substantially improve student outcomes over the past generation, with minority and low-income students seeing the largest gains, the achievement gap stubbornly persists. Putting disadvantaged students on equal footing with their better-off peers requires policies that tackle the consequences of poverty; not a single study has conclusively shown otherwise.
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education brings together scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to promote a set of policies that help all children arrive at kindergarten prepared to learn, ensure their access to nutritious food and health care so that they can absorb all that school has to offer, and out-of-school enrichment to sustain those gains. It demands accountability systems that focus on improving instruction rather than firing teachers, reliably identify excellent teachers and those who should move out, and that broaden, rather than constricting, students’ educational experiences.
The BBA has been supported by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Atlantic Philanthropies. The task force also received support from an anonymous donor whose philanthropy focuses on the well-being of disadvantaged children.
The Economic Policy Institute convened the original BBA signatories and Task Force and continues to provide in-kind technical and logistical assistance.
The BBA was convened in 2008 by EPI President Larry Mishel. A diverse national Task Force drafted the mission statement. Three of its members, Helen Ladd, Pedro Noguera, and Tom Payzant, serve as BBA co-chairs and are supported by a national Advisory Council, co-chaired by Susan B Neuman and Richard Rothstein. BBA policy positions were developed by the original BBA Task Force and are elaborated and interpreted on an ongoing basis by the BBA Co-Chairs. Learn more about our leadership
In addition to the high-profile original signatories, many of whom helped to draft the mission statement , thousands of people from across the country who agree with BBA’s mission continue to sign. View the list of signatories and join them!
Elaine Weiss is the National Coordinator of the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, where she works with a high-level Task Force and coalition partners to promote a comprehensive, evidence-based set of policies to allow all children to thrive. She came to BBA from the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she served as project manager for Pew's Partnership for America’s Economic Success campaign. In that capacity, she worked with researchers to assemble evidence on the economic benefits of early childhood investments, developed advocacy materials, and worked with state partners to engage business leaders to promote effective early childhood programs. Ms. Weiss is an attorney, a cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School, and received a Ph.D. in public policy from the George Washington University in August, 2011. She is a member of the Center for Disease Control's task force on child abuse, and has served as volunteer counsel for clients at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
10:1 That's Nobel economist James Heckman's estimated return to society from high-quality pre-k programs' help in boosting low-income children's cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social readiness for school and life. View the full BBA infographic to learn more.