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Schools Betrayed: Roots of Failure in Inner-City Education [Kindle Edition]

Kathryn M. Neckerman
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The problems commonly associated with inner-city schools were not nearly as pervasive a century ago, when black children in most northern cities attended school alongside white children. In Schools Betrayed, her innovative history of race and urban education, Kathryn M. Neckerman tells the story of how and why these schools came to serve black children so much worse than their white counterparts.

Focusing on Chicago public schools between 1900 and 1960, Neckerman compares the circumstances of blacks and white immigrants, groups that had similarly little wealth and status yet came to gain vastly different benefits from their education. Their divergent educational outcomes, she contends, stemmed from Chicago officials’ decision to deal with rising African American migration by segregating schools and denying black students equal resources. And it deepened, she shows, because of techniques for managing academic failure that only reinforced inequality. Ultimately, these tactics eroded the legitimacy of the schools in Chicago’s black community, leaving educators unable to help their most disadvantaged students.

Schools Betrayed will be required reading for anyone who cares about urban education.

Editorial Reviews


“Kathryn Neckerman’s Schools Betrayed is one of those rare books that will become a standard reference not only for social scientists, historians, and school officials, but for educated lay readers as well. Through careful historical documentation of race and urban education in Chicago, Neckerman brilliantly uncovers the roots of antagonism, alienation, and disorder in inner-city classrooms. No previous study has provided a more definitive analysis of why so many black youngsters and their parents have lost faith in the public schools.”

(William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvar 2007-04-03)

“This is an excellent book that could not be more timely or significant. Kathryn Neckerman sets out to explain why urban schools serve African American children so poorly. Her interpretation is bold. Schools Betrayed will force a reconsideration of the historiography of education, and will command immediate attention as one of the most important books ever written on the topic.”

(Michael B. Katz, author of In the Shadow of the Poorhouse 2006-09-25)

“Neckerman’s powerful analysis challenged my thinking about the root causes of educational inequality. She overturns traditional explanations about economic decline, labor markets, and oppositional culture to show how school policies increasingly distanced blacks and white immigrants from 1930 to 1960. Neckerman is one of the few scholars who directly links higher-level policy decisions to everyday teacher-student classroom dynamics. It’s an important story about much more than one city’s school system.”

(Jack Dougherty, Trinity College, Hartford 2007-03-06)

“Kathryn Neckerman brilliantly captures the elusive interaction of social, political, and economic contexts and on-the-ground education policy creation in Chicago during the twentieth century. She demonstrates that the devastating inequality that emerged for African Americans in the education system developed over many decades of small actions by ordinary people in both the public and private spheres—in politics, work places, housing markets and informal social settings, as well as schools. The restriction of opportunities for African Americans that resulted from day to day decisions in arenas both in and outside of schools speaks volumes about what must be done to create opportunities in urban schools for current minority students.”
(Jean Anyon, author of Ghetto Schooling: A Political Economy of Urban Educational 2007-04-03)

"Neckerman's analysis provides a welcome antidote to much of the historical literature on American education, which rarely examines actual policy choices. . . . Segregation did harm blacks, as this fine book shows."
(Jonathan Zimmerman Journal of American History)

"This case study of Chicago's public schools is a cogent and powerful analysis that examines the roots of failure in the city's public shools. . . . This work forces us to look beyond simplistic notions of school failure that blame families, students, and teachers. Instead, it asks us to consider the institution of public schooling itself and its myriad policies and practices that may . . . disadvantage the students they are meant to serve."
(Kathy Ann Jordan Journal of African American History)

"Neckerman's analysis is a critically important reminder that education policies adopted beyond the confines of the schools can undermine the preconditions that contribute to constructive pedagogic relationships between teachers and students. . . . Her book powerfully documents the educational costs of societal and institutional racism in Chicago's schools."
(Michael Olneck American Journal of Sociology)

About the Author

Kathryn M. Neckerman is associate professor of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, and an affiliate of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health and Society Scholars Program and the institute’s Center for the Study of Wealth and Inequality.


Product Details

  • File Size: 2751 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (September 15, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001P30BKA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,854 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Neckerman offers a fascinating analysis of the systemic factors which contributed to the erosion of urban school systems. She demonstrates how urban schools have not failed simply due to "poor values" or lack of initiative among the denizens of America's central cities, rather she shows that their failure has been a byproduct of failed policies, policies that have been significant in the maintenance of racial subordination.
Neckerman's text is a great accompaniment to works such as Ghetto Schooling by Jean Anyon, Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, or High Stakes Education by Pauline Lipman.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars thesis with little supporting evidence December 12, 2012
Kathryn Neckerman's book "Schools Betrayed" is a good example of an all too common practice in modern sociology of authors advancing their own agenda without providing evidence to support it. This is particular apparent in Neckerman's tortured explanation of historical accounts of African American children misbehaving in classrooms. Neckerman claims that this behavior was driven by their lack of faith in the school's ability to give them the skills necessary to achieve economic success. This may seem like a reasonable thesis on its face, but Neckerman provides no evidence to support it. It is pure conjecture on her part. As a result, the thesis doesn't withstand close scrutiny. For instance, are we really to believe that a 6 year old's disruptive behavior in class is driven by his concern over his future job prospects? Her thesis is further undercut by her account of immigrant students, who she says were less interested in school than African Americans yet were also better behaved. Neckerman rationalizes that this is because immigrants placed less emphasis on education and were therefore less frustrated by the quality they were receiving. Again, this is not impossible, but once again there are no facts to support this claim.

What is concerning about Neckerman's arguments are not so much the arguments themselves, but the complete lack of evidence supporting them. She has an agenda and skirts the facts when necessary in order to advance it.
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