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Gareth Cook

Education’s coconut cake problem

HARVARD PROFESSOR Roland Fryer has made a discovery with the potential to transform public education. To understand it, though, it helps to first hear a story about the conundrum of the coconut cake.

Fryer’s grandmother makes an astounding coconut cake, a magical confection of sweetness and air he’s loved since he was a kid growing up in Florida. Fryer wanted to learn to make the cake himself, but every time he pressed for a recipe, she gave him directions like “use a good amount of sugar, a little flour but not too much, and just a bit of baking powder.’’

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