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Making Education Work for the PoorThe Potential of Children's Savings Accounts$
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Willliam Elliott and Melinda Lewis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190621568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190621568.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Toward an Equitable Opportunity Pipeline:The Creation of a Uniquely American Proposal for the 21st Century

Toward an Equitable Opportunity Pipeline:The Creation of a Uniquely American Proposal for the 21st Century

6 Toward an Equitable Opportunity Pipeline:The Creation of a Uniquely American Proposal for the 21st Century
Making Education Work for the Poor

Willliam Elliott

Melinda Lewis

Oxford University Press

The promising effects of relatively small-dollar Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) have catalyzed tremendous energy for universal provision of early asset accounts. Within the CSA field and among many close observers, there is consensus that CSA policy should start with an account for every child in the United States. As described in chapter 4, however, the promise of small- dollar CSAs is a bit of a double-edged sword. For some, the policy objective has become the account itself. Some proponents of this view believe that Children’s Savings Accounts are like infrastructure, a sort of social utility that has to be put in place—like plumbing—so that the benefits that these structures confer can then “flow.” Others may be eager for what seems like an easier win and consoled by the prospect of getting “something”—like the college-saver identities that early assets can cultivate—for nearly “nothing.” However, because this policy conceptualization fails to fully account for the problem of wealth inequality and its devastating effects on equitable educational attainment and upward mobility, such CSAs will likely fall short of the potentially transformative impact of children’s asset ownership. In this chapter, we discuss our understanding of CSA policy evolution in order to present a case for how CSAs can go beyond mere “plumbing” to truly revolutionize higher education finance. In accordance with Kingdon’s theory of how agendas advance, we then outline a policy suited to the problem to which our political system must respond: fractures in the opportunity pipeline that derail children’s futures and threaten the American dream. Instead of starting with what might be the easiest immediate win, we frame a vision of the powerful institutional tool children need: Opportunity Investment Accounts (OIAs), an essential investment in an American opportunity pipeline. Our emphasis on OIAs as conduits for meaningful wealth transfer rather than empty pipes does not mean that there are no benefits to small-dollar children’s savings. As described in chapter 5, a growing body of evidence attests to the intrinsic value of dedicated educational assets, early in a child’s life, even when small in amount.

Keywords:   Community Link Foundation, Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans, Opportunity Investment Accounts (OIAs), Promise Indiana, compromise, in political warfare environment, early asset accounts, savings patterns, CSA-facilitated, state-supported plans, work ethic, American

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