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Forced to Fail: The Paradox of School Desegregation [Hardcover]

Stephen J Caldas , Carl L. Bankston III

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Book Description

Aug. 30 2005 0275986934 978-0275986933 annotated edition

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.

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"According to Caldas and Bankston, efforts to enhance racial mixing in schools have been self-defeating. They contend that the premise of desegregation was that schools could redesign American society; however, they believe this clashed with the goals of parents who were concerned only with benefiting their own children….In their new book, the authors look at a wide range of secondary sources to conclude that school people in the US face a paradox. While minority youth might profit from attending middle-class schools, middle-class parents abandon schools that must desegregate. Since the authors believe that racial desegregation exacerbates the problems schools and communities face, they favor strengthening neighborhood schools….Recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through faculty."




"This timely book offers a critical look at school desegregation, guiding readers toward a better understanding of how race, class, and social networks influence educational outcomes. Caldas and Bankston envision an alternative, more realistic, approach to providing equal access to educational opportunities."


Min Zhou, Professor and Inaugural Chair, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles


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