What is your dream for America and the world?

My dream for America is that every child born reaches her full potential for joy and productivity.

Four principal obstacles lie in the path of the realization of that dream: the zip code safety gap, the schools gap, the family structure gap, and the values gap.

The zip code safety gap: the first job of government is to provide physical security for its citizens. A state that fails to do so is a failed state. In most zip codes in America children can walk to school and to the playground without fear of physical harm. In others, no.

The schools gap: 120 years after Plessy v Ferguson schools are very separate and very unequal. Some public schools have high quality academic, artistic, and athletic programs, others don’t. Some have high standards of discipline. Others don’t.

Some have high quality teachers, others don’t. To change this requires action on many fronts. Two steps to be taken on the legal front are overturning San Antonio v Rodriguez (ie. the funding of schools from local property taxes) and affirming Vergara v California (that tenure is incompatible with the equal protection clause.

The family structure gap: complex and unstable families are not conducive to children reaching their full potential. The latest social science research (Chetty, Edin, Brookings-AEI) confirms the critical importance of family structure to social mobility. The elimination of marriage penalties to welfare eligibility and equal access to long-acting reversible contraceptives are two specific steps to be taken.

The values gap: high standards and high expectations matter. The relative academic success of Asian and Jewish children reflects the relatively high importance placed on education by their cultural traditions. Higher expectations drive higher performance. The incarnation of this principle is Jaime Escalante, the Bolivian-American calculus teacher immortalized in the film “Stand and Deliver.”