This chapter describes the system of opportunity creation in the United States, which has been a series of inventions and reinventions of the means by which opportunity has been provided. It begins with a historical background on efforts to suppress opportunity—or at least keep a monopoly hold on it—particularly in Britain. It then considers how opportunity has been embedded in American-style capitalism in two fundamental ways. The first is by equipping individuals with the skills they need to participate in capitalism; the second relates to the functioning of innovation and markets, and to the ability of new industries, firms, and jobs to challenge the status quo—namely, creative destruction. It also highlights the fundamental tension between wealth creation and maintaining economic opportunity. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role played by schools and education reformers in the history of opportunity and opportunity creation in America.
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