Retracing Supreme Court decisions on race and education beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Wolters distinguishes between desegregation and integration and shows how devastating educational and cultural consequences resulted from subsequent Supreme Court decisions that conflated the two and led to racial balancing policies that have backfired.
With the Supreme Court's landmark Brown decisions of 1954 and 1955, American education changed forever. But Brown was just the beginning, and Raymond Wolters contends that its best intentions have been taken to unnecessary extremes.
In this compelling study, a scholar who has long observed the traumas of school desegregation uncovers the changes and difficulties with which public education has dealt over the last fifty years—and argues that some judicial decisions were ill-advised. Dealing candidly with matters usually considered taboo in academic discourse, Wolters argues that the Supreme Court acted correctly and in accordance with public sentiment in Brown but that it later took a wrong turn by equating desegregation with integration.
Wolters draws on rich historical records to document the devastating consequences of requiring racial balance and sheds new light on America's legal, social, and cultural landscapes. He reexamines the educational theories of Kenneth Clark and James Coleman, and he challenges statistics that support the results of racial balancing by describing how school desegregation and integration actually proceeded in several towns, cities, and counties.
Race and Education is a bold challenge to political correctness in education and a corrective to the now widely accepted notion that desegregation and racially balanced integration are one and the same. It is essential reading for scholars of law and education and a wake-up call for citizens concerned about the future of America's schools.
Raymond Wolters — Raymond Wolters is Thomas Muncy Keith Professor of History at the University of Delaware. His books include The Burden of Brown: Thirty Years of School Desegregation and Du Bois and His Rivals (University of Missouri Press).
Wolters, Raymond. Race and education, 1954-2007. Missouri, 2009 (c2008). 313p index afp; ISBN 9780826218285. Reviewed in 2009nov CHOICE.
Wolters (history, Univ. of Delaware) offers a history of the relationship between race and education policy in the US since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. The book is an excellent review of case law on the subject of desegregation and education. Wolters also provides the reader with a fairly comprehensive account of many of the ideas of educational reformers, most notably James Coleman, while also discussing the disparate literature on the educational effects of desegregated schools. Yet the book also implies that desegregation was a failure because of the fact that it was never especially popular with many affected whites. Many questions about the substantial impact of roughly 300 years of state-sponsored racism on African Americans, as well as questions related to the prevalence of white racism as it manifested itself in resistance to integration/desegregation, go unasked. Despite these criticisms, this book is a worthwhile addition to the literature on the legal aspects of race and education since Brown, and it should be of interest to scholars and students alike.
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. -- N. Kraus, University of Wisconsin--River Falls