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Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa Hardcover – July 29, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


"South Africa's bold effort to dismantle the legacy of an education system built on fear and hate demonstrates that policymakers need to go beyond platitudes about reform. As Fiske and Ladd clearly argue, only with significant resources and coordinated leadership over time can a country move toward equity and education for all." —Gene B. Sperling, Senior Fellow for Economic Policy and Director of the Center on Universal Education, Council on Foreign Relations

"The new South Africa was born in its schools.... timely assessment.... Their summary of the economic reasons for the shortage of money is relatively free of the political/sociological/ economic jargon and complexity usually employed to explain away, rather than account for, failures.... it is precisely what makes it so accessible to readers beyond academics.... academics will find the book useful for its examination of an attempt to create a new education system to serve the needs of an entire country." —Shereen Pandit, The Educational Supplement, 10/1/2004

"Their story is...strikingly evocative of the dilemmas [South Africa] faces." —Nicholas Van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

"Richly textured descriptions of how South Africa's education reforms have affected schools at the grass-roots level are combined with careful analysis of enrollment, governance, and budget data at the school, provincial and national levels. The result is a compelling and comprehensive study of South Africa's first decade of education reform in the post-apartheid period." — Africa News, 10/5/2005

"The insights they offer...are revealing, especially coming from outsiders." —Deputy President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, 5/31/2005

"the authors provide a balanced and thorough preliminary analysis of education reforms during the first postapartheid decade within South Africa...a solid introductory piece of research on the complex aspects of education reform in postapartheid South Africa" —Karen L. Biraimah, University of Central Florida, Comparative Education Review

"the authors succeed quite convincingly in problematizing issues of equity in education....Fiske and Ladd have made a valuable contribution." —Gert J. van der Westhuizen, African Studies Review

"Fiske and Ladd provide profound, systematic and empirically substantiated assessments of schooling in South Africa a decade after the formal close of apartheid. Their study confronts the key issues relevant to educational equity, including the heritage of deprivation of schools serving blacks and the impact of persistent beliefs in black inferiority on the part of many teachers. This is now the definitive study of educational policy in post-apartheid South Africa." —William Darity Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"ELUSIVE EQUITY is the most comprehensive analysis yet of the various reforms--in school finance, governance, curriculum, and teacher policy--aimed at overcoming the inequities of apartheid education. While sympathetic to the aims of post-apartheid transformation, it gives deep insights into the difficulties of reforming a profoundly unequal system." —John Pampallis, Director, Centre for Education Policy Development, Johannesburg

"This is a well-researched examination of the complexities of educational reform in South Africa. Ladd and Fiske have gone beyond the headlines to allow both reformers and critics to speak in their own voice about the challenges they face in overcoming the legacies of apartheid." —Professor James A. Joseph, Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa

"Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd in their book Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa offer a compelling account of key opportunities and challenges that confront South African schools as they attempt to shed systemic restrictions imposed by discriminatory laws and policies of apartheid. Through their comprehensive analysis, the authors illuminate complex dynamics that need to be taken into account to successfully reform the system of education in this country." —Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, Michigan State University, H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences

About the Author

Edward B. Fiske , an educational consultant and writer, is the author of the annual Fiske Guide to Colleges. He served as education editor of the New York Times from 1974 to 1991. Helen F. Ladd is Edgar Thompson Professor of Public Policy Studies and professor of economics at Duke University's Sanford Institute of Public Policy.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (July 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815728409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815728405
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,403,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward B. Fiske served for 17 years as education editor of the New York Times, where he realized that college-bound students and their families needed better information on which to base their educational choices. He is also the author of the Fiske Guide to Getting into the Right College. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Walt Gardner on August 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When apartheid was dismantled in 1994, South Africa faced the daunting challenge of establishing a working democracy in a country long divided along rigid racial lines. Perhaps no segment of society was more deeply affected by the metamorphosis than public education.

"Elusive Equity" examines the government's attempts to provide equal opportunity to learn for all children. Through in-depth interviews, unpublished documents, and observations at dozens of schools, Edward B. Fiske and Helen F. Ladd present a balanced analysis of the process.

The authors manage to immerse the reader in a way that is both informative and moving by making use of the same reportorial and research skills that they employed so effectively in "When Schools Compete," still the definitive study of school choice in New Zealand. The result is a book that is indispensable for anyone interested in the education of disadvantaged students anywhere. Despite the obvious historical differences between South Africa and the U.S., Fiske and Ladd draw valuable lessons that are instructive for inner-city schools here.

Walt Gardner taught for twenty-eight years in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was a lecturer at the UCLA Graduate School of Education.
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