Opening Up to Ideas on How to Close the Gap

John Diamond has spent more than a decade examining various aspects of academic disparities in schools and conducting research into the hot-button issue commonly referred to as the racial achievement gap. And over the years, one theme in Diamond’s investigations has consistently emerged.

“This is a very complex problem and there aren’t simple answers,” says Diamond, UW-Madison’s Hoefs-Bascom Associate Professor of Education. “The challenges that kids are facing in schools — and that schools are facing trying to provide a better education — relate to the broader racial inequalities that exist in society.”

Diamond first started taking a closer look at this topic in 2003, when a school principal asked him to look into why so many African American boys in this particular school were struggling. What made this problem so puzzling was the fact that these black students were lagging behind their peers even at a place that, on the surface, appeared to have plenty going for it. The school was well funded, the teachers were well trained, and many of its students were high achieving.

In an effort to bring in-depth research, new data and some much-needed clarity, Diamond co-authored a book titled, “Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools.” Through Diamond’s insightful work, and the work of others at the UW, the School of Education is taking the lead to reduce the opportunity gap. And alumni and friends can help by supporting the Close the Gap Fund and doing their part to achieve excellence for all.