Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer, Jr. gets a ton of funding to try out various interventions in young people to Close the Gap. Why? Because he's black. As Steve Levitt's writing partner Steve Dubner wrote in the NYT Magazine in 2005:
To Fryer, the language of economics, a field proud of its coldblooded rationalism, is ideally suited for otherwise volatile conversations. ''I want to have an honest discussion about race in a time and a place where I don't think we can,'' he says. ''Blacks and whites are both to blame. As soon as you say something like, 'Well, could the black-white test-score gap be genetics?' everybody gets tensed up. But why shouldn't that be on the table?''
Fryer said this several months ago, which was well before Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard, wondered aloud if genetics might help explain why women are so underrepresented in the sciences. Summers — who is also an economist and a fan of Fryer's work — is still being punished for his musings. There is a key difference, of course: Summers is not a woman; Fryer is black.
So, here's Fryer's latest:
Roland G. Fryer, Jr.
Harvard University and NBER
This paper describes a field experiment in Oklahoma City Public Schools in which students were provided with free cellular phones and daily information about the link between human capital and future outcomes via text message. Students’ reported beliefs about the relationship between education and outcomes were influenced by treatment, and treatment students also report being more focused and working harder in school. However, there were no measureable changes in attendance, behavioral incidents, or test scores. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which students cannot translate effort into measureable output, though other explanations are possible.