Costs and Benefits of Providing an Opportunity to Learn

The facts are clear.  We have severe gaps in the Opportunity to Learn across the country.  These gaps not only affect issues such as high school graduation rates and college-going rates, they also affect every aspect of the lives of our communities, our economy, and our nation.

By failing to provide all students an equally high Opportunity to Learn, we are severely damaging our nation’s economy:


Total Annual Economic Burden to Taxpayers
Because of Inequity:
$59.2 billion

Potential Return on School Improvement Investment:
(Differences attributable to high school graduation per annual cohort)
National Annual Total Lifetime Health Loss
$11.6 billion
National Annual Crime-Related Loss
$7.6 billion
State Tax Losses (Lifetime)
$40 billion
Annual Lost Lifetime Earnings
(Difference attributable to high school graduation per annual cohort)
$82.2 billion

If we close the opportunity gap, we will have a tremendous impact on the education, health and welfare of our nation.  Providing a true Opportunity to Learn for all students – particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups – would net an annual potential revenue increase of $36.5 billion AFTER deducting the estimated costs of improving the schools.  That’s return on investment that replicates itself year after year.