Americans are generally aware of educational disparities between whites and other racial/ethnic populations in our society. Far less understood, however, are the negative social and economic consequences that U.S. residents are likely to experience IF current population shifts and disparities in educational levels continue over the next two decades.

The fact that significant numbers of minority populations are concentrated in a small number of states (see figures 3 and 4)—and often in urban areas—highlights the importance of a few key geographic areas addressing higher education inequality among specific racial/ethnic groups. However, because many smaller states have relatively high proportions of minorities, the ability of all states to address the educational needs of their minority populations is critical for creating a better-educated workforce, increasing the earning power of their residents, and remaining competitive with other states and countries.

Education is one of the most effective interventions for improving our social and economic future—for individuals, communities, states, and the country as a whole. Given the changing nature of the global marketplace, the high school diploma is no longer sufficient for individuals seeking good jobs, nor for communities building a vibrant economy.

Addressing inequalities in higher education opportunity will require persistent and meaningful efforts by states in order to put in place the policies and resources to advance the education of all their residents.


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