Cover image for The color of school reform : race, politics, and the challenge of urban education
The color of school reform : race, politics, and the challenge of urban education
Henig, Jeffrey R., 1951-
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 301 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Civic capacity, race, and educational black-led cities -- Racial change and the politics of transition -- The elusiveness of education reform -- Race and the political economy of big-city schools -- Parental and community participation in education reform -- Black leaders, white businesses -- The role of external actors -- School reform as if politics and race matter.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LC5131 .C586 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Why is it so difficult to design and implement fundamental educational reform in large city schools in spite of broad popular support for change? How does the politics of race complicate the challenge of building and sustaining coalitions for improving urban schools? These questions have provoked a great deal of theorizing, but this is the first book to explore the issues on the basis of extensive, solid evidence. Here a group of political scientists examines education reform in Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, and Washington, D.C., where local governmental authority has passed from white to black leaders. The authors show that black administrative control of big-city school systems has not translated into broad improvements in the quality of public education within black-led cities. Race can be crucial, however, in fostering the broad civic involvement perhaps most needed for school reform.

In each city examined, reform efforts often arise but collapse, partly because leaders are unable to craft effective political coalitions that would commit community resources to a concrete policy agenda. What undermines the leadership, according to the authors, is the complex role of race in each city. First, public authority does not guarantee access to private resources, usually still controlled by white economic elites. Second, local authorities must interact with external actors, at the state and national levels, who remain predominantly white. Finally, issues of race divide the African American community itself and often place limits on what leaders can and cannot do. Filled with insightful explanations together with recommendations for policy change, this book is an important component of the debate now being waged among researchers, education activists, and the community as a whole.

Author Notes

Jeffrey R. Henig is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Washington Area Studies at George Washington University. His books include Rethinking School Choice (Princeton). Richard C. Hula is Professor of Political Science and Urban Affairs at Michigan State University and is the author of Market-Based Public Policy and The Reconstruction of Family Policy.
Marion Orr is Associate Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies at Brown University and is the author of Black Social Capital: The Politics of School Reform in Baltimore, 1986-1998 . Desiree S. Pedescleaux is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Spelman College.

Table of Contents

Figuresp. ix
Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
The Color of School Reformp. 2
Chapter 1 Civic Capacity, Race, and Education in Black-Led Citiesp. 3
Chapter 2 Racial Change and the Politics of Transitionp. 30
Chapter 3 The Elusiveness of Education Reformp. 63
Chapter 4 Race and the Political Economy of Big-City Schools: Teachers and Preachersp. 115
Chapter 5 Parental and Community Participation in Education Reformp. 155
Chapter 6 Black Leaders, White Businesses: Racial Tensions and the Construction of Public-Private Partnerships in Educationp. 209
Chapter 7 The Role of External Actorsp. 247
Chapter 8 School Reform as If Politics and Race Matterp. 273
Indexp. 293