The City College Advantage

kevin-foster-research-for-the-common-goodI hope you read the recent report about how vital CCNY is, in propelling so many of our students out of poverty.  The report, led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty*, showed that 76% of City College students who started from the lowest 20% of income end up at least an entire quintile higher, so neither the lowest nor the second-lowest 20%.  That report ranks CCNY #2 for mobility in the entire country.  We are all proud of our contributions to this effort.  But let me link that report to other strands of economic research.

That leap in income is tremendously rare.  Most people stay in the same quintile where they start and of those who move, most move just one quintile up or down – very few take more than one step away.  You may remember hearing Raj Chetty’s name last month, documenting what David Leonhardt called the “end of the American Dream,” as he tabulated data that showed people born in 1950 had nearly an 80% chance of making more money than their parents, while those born in 1980 had just a 50% chance.  (He also provided data about the geography of opportunity: there are some parts of the country that do better than others.)  CCNY’s American Dream Machine is enormously difficult; it was always tough but it is becoming even more so.

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Tomgram: Rajan Menon, The Iranian Connection in the Age of Trump

Tell me if this sounds familiar: the leadership of a distant nation has its own ideas about whom you should vote for, or who should rule your country, and acts decisively on them, affecting an election. Such interference in the political life of another country must be a reference to… no, I’m not thinking about Vladimir Putin and the American election of 2016, but perhaps the Italian election of 1948, or the Japanese election of 1958, or the Nicaraguan election of 1990 — all ones in which the U.S. had a significant hand and affected the outcome. Or what about an even cruder scenario than just handing over suitcases of cash to those you support or producing “fake news” to influence another country’s voting behavior?  How about just overthrowing an already elected democratic government you find distasteful and installing one more to your liking, as in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, or Chile in 1973?

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