^^Aeh, you're spot on. I remembered reading the Atlantic article you linked a while back and found it informative.
The line that pays for the skim-readers in our group is:
"The scholars determined that the obvious challenges faced by low-income Black and Latino students were poverty and poor K–12 education."
It's worth a review of the source research commissioned by the UC senate for those interested in evidence-based EDI work. https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/committees/sttf/sttf-report.pdf
And yes - education pays dividends. I ran some quick simulations for Canada, and the economic multiplier on public education spending is 1.33. Translated, that means $1 invested in education generates $1.33 of real GDP for the Canadian economy each year. This compares with $1.08 for every dollar invested in the average of all Canadian industries.
You read that right. The ROI on education is 4 times that of investing in the economy as a whole - returns that, if sustained, would satisfy hedge fund managers. And that's an underestimate, because it doesn't fully factor in opportunity costs and foregone risk. The US would have similar returns.
Low educational quality is not a resource constraint problem. It's a resource ALLOCATION one.
Politics and social views shouldn't matter to one's agreement with this - it is so absurdly clear on a financial level that no moral appeal is required.
Making outstanding quality K-12 instruction universally available would more than self-finance, and the returns of doing so would far exceed the value of alternate investments of public funds.