Nestled in neighborhoods of varying degrees of affluence, suburban public schools are typically better resourced than their inner-city peers and known for their extracurricular offerings and college preparatory programs. Despite the glowing opportunities that many families associate with suburban schooling, accessing a district's resources is not always straightforward, particularly for black and poorer families. Moving beyond class- and race-based explanations, Inequality in the Promised Land focuses on the everyday interactions between parents, students, teachers, and school administrators in order to understand why resources seldom trickle down to a district's racial and economic minorities. Rolling Acres Public Schools (RAPS) is one of the many well-appointed suburban school districts across the United States that has become increasingly racially and economically diverse over the last forty years. Expanding on Charles Tilly's model of relational analysis and drawing on 100 in-depth interviews as well participant observation and archival research, R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy examines the pathways of resources in RAPS. He discovers that―due to structural factors, social and class positions, and past experiences―resources are not valued equally among families and, even when deemed valuable, financial factors and issues of opportunity hoarding often prevent certain RAPS families from accessing that resource. In addition to its fresh and incisive insights into educational inequality, this groundbreaking book also presents valuable policy-orientated solutions for administrators, teachers, activists, and politicians.
It's a diss-turned-book and it reads that way. I liked it, tho. His study began in 2006, so its portrait of white folks clinging to colorblindness feels dated. Or maybe I don't know a wide enough variety of white people? Could very well be.
Chapter 4, about the way affluent white folks navigate opportunities, was especially frustrating. The description of the resources it takes to wade through all the crap that kids come home with from a public school, let alone the network-communicated opportunities for (expensive) extra-curricular activities, will resonate with anybody who has school-aged kids.
Read this for an educational anthropology class -- extremely interesting. Discussed the myth of suburban schooling, breaking down how even a well-run and well-resourced school district can continue to perpetuate inequality, particularly in their treatment of students of color. Lewis-McCoy is a skilled researcher and a strong writer.