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.