We need more research into the impact of factors like diet and nutrition, the amount of time parents talk and read with their kids, exposure to electronic screen time, sleep routines and the way stress outside the home affects family life. But we already know that an expansion of early-childhood education is urgently needed, along with programs, like peer-to-peer mentoring, that help low-income families support their children’s learning. The first few years of life are the most critical ones, when parental investments and early-childhood interventions have a higher payoff than at later ages, particularly for disadvantaged children.
In 2003, in the Grutter decision, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that she expected such preferences to disappear within 25 years — by 2028. The children who would go off to college that year are already 2 years old.