Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits

University of Chicago Press
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In a radically unequal United States, schools are often key sites in which injustice grows. Ansley T. Erickson’s Making the Unequal Metropolis presents a broad, detailed, and damning argument about the inextricable interrelatedness of school policies and the persistence of metropolitan-scale inequality. While many accounts of education in urban and metropolitan contexts describe schools as the victims of forces beyond their control, Erickson shows the many ways that schools have been intertwined with these forces and have in fact—via land-use decisions, curricula, and other tools—helped sustain inequality.

Taking Nashville as her focus, Erickson uncovers the hidden policy choices that have until now been missing from popular and legal narratives of inequality. In her account, inequality emerges not only from individual racism and white communities’ resistance to desegregation, but as the result of long-standing linkages between schooling, property markets, labor markets, and the pursuit of economic growth. By making visible the full scope of the forces invested in and reinforcing inequality, Erickson reveals the complex history of, and broad culpability for, ongoing struggles in our schools.
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About the author

Ansley T. Erickson is assistant professor of history and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She lives in New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2016
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9780226025391
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Educational Policy & Reform / Federal Legislation
History / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.
​In Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch argues that the crisis in American education is not a crisis of academic achievement but a concerted effort to destroy public schools in this country. She makes clear that, contrary to the claims being made, public school test scores and graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and dropout rates are at their lowest point.

​She argues that federal programs such as George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top set unreasonable targets for American students, punish schools, and result in teachers being fired if their students underperform, unfairly branding those educators as failures. She warns that major foundations, individual billionaires, and Wall Street hedge fund managers are encouraging the privatization of public education, some for idealistic reasons, others for profit. Many who work with equity funds are eyeing public education as an emerging market for investors.
​Reign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.

​For Ravitch, public school education is about knowledge, about learning, about developing character, and about creating citizens for our society. It’s about helping to inspire independent thinkers, not just honing job skills or preparing people for college. Public school education is essential to our democracy, and its aim, since the founding of this country, has been to educate citizens who will help carry democracy into the future.
#1 bestselling author and popular radio and television host Glenn Beck considers the hot-button issue of education in the US, exposing the weaknesses of the Common Core school curriculum and examining why liberal solutions fail.

Public education is never mentioned in the constitution. Why? Because our founders knew that it was an issue for state and local governments—not the federal one.

It’s not a coincidence that the more the federal government has inserted itself into public education over the years, the worse our kids have fared. Washington dangles millions of dollars in front of states and then tells them what they have to do to get it. It’s backdoor nationalization of education—and it’s leading us to ruin.

In Conform, Glenn Beck presents a well-reasoned, fact-based analysis that proves it’s not more money our schools need—it’s a complete refocusing of their priorities and a total restructuring of their relationship with the federal government. In the process, he dismantles many of the common myths and talking points that are often heard by those who want to protect the status quo.

Critics of the current system are just “teacher bashers”…Teachers’ unions put kids first...Homeschooled kids suffer both academically and socially…“local control” is an excuse to protect mediocrity…Common Core is “rigorous” and “state led”…Critics of Common Core are just conspiracy theorists…Elementary school teachers need tenure...We can’t reform schools until we eradicate poverty…school choice takes money away from public schools…Charter schools perform poorly relative to public schools.

There is no issue more important to America’s future than education. The fact that we’ve yielded control over it to powerful unions and ideologically driven elitists is inexcusable. We are failing ourselves, our children, and our country. Conform gives parents the facts they need to take back the debate and help usher in a new era of education built around the commonsense principles of choice, freedom, and accountability.
While race and culture remain important variables in how young people experience schools, they are often misunderstood by educators and school personnel. Building on three studies that investigated schools successful in closing the achievement gap, Tyrone Howard shows how adopting greater awareness and comprehensive understanding of race and culture can improve educational outcomes.

Important reading for anyone who is genuinely committed to promoting educational equity and excellence for all children, this accessible book: 

Outlines the changing racial, ethnic, and cultural demographics in U.S. schools. Calls for educators to pay serious attention to how race and culture play out in school settings.Presents empirical data from schools that have improved achievement outcomes for racially and culturally diverse students.Focuses on ways in which educators can partner with parents and communities.

“This book will be challenging for some readers and affirming for others. It is at times disheartening and at other times inspiring; sometimes anguishing but always enlightening.”

—From the Foreword by Geneva Gay, University of Washington–Seattle, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching, Second Edition

“Tyrone Howard provides a multi-dimensional and textured look at why students of color continue to struggle in the nation's schools. However, he does not stop there. This book points toward the solutions we have been seeking--partnerships, principles, and persistence.”

—Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“This book is a godsend … a moving portrait for anyone wanting to go beyond the simplified labels and metrics and really understand an urban high school, and its highly individual, resilient, eager and brilliant students and educators.” —Dave Eggers, co-founder, 826 National and ScholarMatch

Darrell is a reflective, brilliant young man, who never thought of himself as a good student. He always struggled with his reading and writing skills. Darrell's father, a single parent, couldn't afford private tutors. By the end of middle school, Darrell's grades and his confidence were at an all time low. Then everything changed.

When education journalist Kristina Rizga first met Darrell at Mission High School, he was taking AP calculus class, writing a ten-page research paper, and had received several college acceptance letters. And Darrell was not an exception. More than 80 percent of Mission High seniors go to college every year, even though the school teaches large numbers of English learners and students from poor families.

So, why has the federal government been threatening to close Mission High—and schools like it across the country?

The United States has been on a century long road toward increased standardization in our public schools, which resulted in a system that reduces the quality of education to primarily one metric: standardized test scores. According to this number, Mission High is a “low-performing” school even though its college enrollment, graduation, attendance rates and student surveys are some of the best in the country.

The qualities that matter the most in learning—skills like critical thinking, intellectual engagement, resilience, empathy, self-management, and cultural flexibility—can't be measured by multiple-choice questions designed by distant testing companies, Rizga argues, but they can be detected by skilled teachers in effective, personalized and humane classrooms that work for all students, not just the most motivated ones.

Based on four years of reporting with unprecedented access, the unforgettable, intimate stories in these pages throw open the doors to America's most talked about—and arguably least understood—public school classrooms where the largely invisible voices of our smart, resilient students and their committed educators can offer a clear and hopeful blueprint for what it takes to help all students succeed.
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