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The development of key indicators, collection of data, and establishment of technical bodies lack the glamour and immediacy of new policies or programs. But it is partly for that reason that they are more likely to gain crucial bipartisan political support. Even if both sides agree there is a problem, there is very little agreement in terms of specific solutions. Efforts to gain bipartisan support for specific policy programs are likely to be unsuccessful. But there is space for bipartisanship in the creation of an institutional framework designed to track the nation's progress toward greater opportunity, keep the attention of policy-makers on this long-term task, drive the collection and dissemination of higher quality data, and dispassionately assess initiatives intended to improve rates of intergenerational mobility.

Right now, political discussions of opportunity are replete with anecdote and soaring speeches about American exceptionalism. But in the end, the restoration of opportunity is not a matter of opinion or rhetoric. It is a matter of fact. If we are serious about a project to restore opportunity, we need to know when we've arrived.


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