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I’m in favor of universal Pre-K on social justice grounds and believe that it’s worth it even if there’s no demonstrable educational gains, as parents should have governmental help in rearing children, particularly so that they can go back to work and be more economically secure. And I’m also in favor of broadening our definitions of success as the study’s authors call for.

But I also am once again frustrated by a glaring hole in this discussion: the complete absence of any frank acknowledgment that there is such a thing as natural academic talent, that different individual students have different levels of inherent ability, which not only can vary from student to student in a classroom but from sibling to sibling in a given family. And until we recognize that there are persistent inequalities in natural talent, we’re not engaging in a productive discussion about real-world problems.

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