Caldas and Bankston provide a critical, dispassionate analysis of why desegregation in the United States has failed to achieve the goal of providing equal educational opportunities for all students. They offer case histories through dozens of examples of failed desegregation plans from all over the country. The book takes a very broad perspective on race and education, situated in the larger context of the development of individual rights in Western civiliztion.
The book traces the long legal history of first racial segregation, and then racial desegregation in America. The authors explain how rapidly changing demographics and family structure in the United States have greatly complicated the project of top-down government efforts to achieve an ideal racial balance in schools. It describes how social capital—a positive outcome of social interaction between and among parents, children, and teachers—creates strong bonds that lead to high academic achievement.
The authors show how coercive desegregation weakens bonds and hurts not only students and schools, but also entire communities. Examples from all parts of the United States show how parents undermined desegregation plans by seeking better educational alternatives for their children rather than supporting the public schools to which their children were assigned. Most important, this book offers an alternative, more realistic viewpoint on class, race, and education in America.