Despite the Best Intentions

Despite the Best Intentions

How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools

Book - 2015
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On the surface, Riverview High School looks like the post-racial ideal. Serving an enviably affluent, diverse, and liberal district, the school is well-funded, its teachers are well-trained, and many of its students are high-achieving. Yet Riverview has not escaped the same unrelentingquestion that plagues schools throughout America: why is it that even when all of the circumstances seem right, black and Latina/o students continue to lag behind their peers? Through five years' worth of interviews and data-gathering at Riverview, Amanda Lewis and John Diamond have created a powerful and illuminating study of how the racial achievement gap continues to afflict American schools more than fifty years after the formal dismantling of segregation. As studentsprogress from elementary school to middle school to high school, their level of academic achievement increasingly tracks along racial lines, with white and Asian students maintaining higher GPAs and standardized testing scores, taking more advanced classes, and attaining better college admissionresults than their black and Latina/o counterparts. Most research to date has focused on the role of poverty, family stability, and other external influences in explaining poor performance at school, especially in urban contexts. Diamond and Lewis instead situate their research in a suburban school,and look at what factors within the school itself could be causing the disparity. Most crucially, they challenge many common explanations of the "racial achievement gap," exploring what race actually means in this situation, and how it matters. Diamond and Lewis' research brings clarity and data into a debate that is too often dominated by stereotyping, race-baiting, and demagoguery. An in-depth study with far-reaching consequences, Despite the Best Intentions revolutionizes our understanding of both the knotty problem of academicdisparities and the larger question of the color line in American society.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Pres, [2015]
ISBN: 9780195342727
Characteristics: xix, 249 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Lewis, Amanda E. 1970-


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Feb 18, 2017

I certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in the question of racial disparities in America. However I noticed something rather odd. Although the title of the book is "Despite the Best Intentions" and although the authors repeatedly say white adminstratiors, teachers, parents, are not consciously racist, it is perfectly obvious they are. Come on now. When school personnel send Black kids home for being inappropriately dressed and don't discipline white kids for dressing the same way---how is that not a conscious racial decision? And when the teacahers and adminstrators notice, as they do, that somehow the advanced placement classes tend to be white and the basic classes Black----if they are really interested in non-discrimination why haven't they done something about it? (One teacher did have a successful program to get more Black kids into advanced placement--what took him so long and why isn't it a major part of the school structure? ) And although the authors have structured surveys which seem to show that the Black kids don't think studying hard and doing well in school is "acting white", there is so much anecdotal evidence to the contrary that I bet you could structure a survey to show that they do. Another interesting detail: the authors mention that sports seem to be segregated by race--and there are at most only 2 white girls on the cheerleading squad. The cheerleaders are usually at the top of the popularity pole---and they're Black? What does that mean?


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