Roland Fryer gave an outstanding seminar last week on Education, Inequality, & Incentives as part of GMU’s Buchanan Speaker Series. Fryer was passionate, funny, and informed as he recounted his journey pounding away at Stata in the late 1990s in an effort to show that Neal and Johnson were wrong and that racism just had to account for differences in wages and other outcomes between blacks and whites; to coming to accept that a large portion of the difference is determined by differences in human capital; to his shocking discovery that the Harlem Children’s Zone was dramatically increasing human capital among minorities; and finally to abandoning the academic game of estimating the different effects of beef and chicken soup (but in really cool and precise ways!) to instead throw himself into the messy work of taking the lessons from the best charter schools and applying and scaling those lessons to public schools across the nation.
I had long been aware of Fryer’s academic work but I had not realized how much he and his team at the Harvard EdLabs have actually done on the ground to remake dozens of schools in Houston, Denver and elsewhere–in the process showing that the best practices of the best charter schools can be scaled to the entire nation. Remarkable.
He starts off at 3:10 slightly hesitant but he really builds.