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Race in the Schoolyard

Negotiating the Color Line in Classrooms and Communities

Amanda E. Lewis

Publication Year: 2003

Could your kids be learning a fourth R at school: reading, writing, 'rithmatic, and race? Race in the Schoolyard takes us to a place most of us seldom get to see in action—our children's classrooms—and reveals the lessons about race that are communicated there. Amanda E. Lewis spent a year observing classes at three elementary schools, two multiracial urban and one white suburban. While race of course is not officially taught like multiplication and punctuation, she finds that it nonetheless insinuates itself into everyday life in schools. Lewis explains how the curriculum, both expressed and hidden, conveys many racial lessons. While teachers and other school community members verbally deny the salience of race, she illustrates how it does influence the way they understand the world, interact with each other, and teach children. This eye-opening text is important reading for educators, parents, and scholars alike.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Series in Childhood Studies


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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

The intellectual work involved in a project such as this book is a collective enterprise. A number of people contributed in small and large ways. First and foremost I must thank the teachers, children, parents, and community members who let me into their classrooms, their lives, their homes, and their hearts. Were it not for their generosity I would have nothing to say. It is risky...

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1. Examining the Color Line in Schools

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pp. 1-11

Five years after leaving a teaching-credential program and a commitment to teach in urban public schools, I walked back into elementary schools to begin the research for this project. What drove me out of urban schools or perhaps what drove me into graduate school is captured by one moment, one day, in a third-grade...

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2. There Is No Race in the Schoolyard: Color-Blind Ideology at Foresthills

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pp. 12-38

Although much research has been done with regard to race in urban educational settings and in schools populated predominantly by students of color, much less work has examined how race operates in all-white or almostall- white settings. There is some wonderful research on multiracial or desegregated schools; these studies are nevertheless part...

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3. Struggling with Dangerous Subjects: Race at West City Elementary

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pp. 39-86

West City is a fairly small elementary school within an urban school district. It was neither one of the best nor one of the worst schools in the city, though few students from the surrounding white, middle-class neighborhood attended. It was at times a warm, tense, lively, disorganized, sad, and joyful place. As one teacher put it, “It is as fine as a dysfunctional family...

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4. Breaking the Silence: Race, Culture, Language, and Power at Metro2

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pp. 87-127

In demographic composition (including student body and staff ), curricular focus, location, and language policy, Metro2 had a complex racial and cultural landscape that many would define as a Latino space. Yet during my time at the school, more than one staff member referred to it as a “white school.” Why? What did they mean by “white”? This paradox lies at the heart of much...

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5. Learning and Living Racial Boundaries: Constructing and Negotiating Racial Identity in School

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pp. 128-153

One day during recess at Metro2 I observed an exchange that I recorded in my fieldnotes as follows: Lily and Kate, two fourth-grade girls, stand on the schoolyard talking. As part of a class presentation that morning, Lily had described her ethnic heritage as “Mexican American...

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6. Schooling and the Social Reproduction of Racial Inequality

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pp. 154-187

The previous chapter looked at the racialization process as it played out in the three school communities. Along with understanding the role schools play in the production of racial ideas, however, it is essential to understand the role of schools in the reproduction of racial inequality. Racial inequality in education, specifically racial gaps in achievement, have been receiving new attention. The black-white gap in particular...

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7. Schools as Race-Making Institutions

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pp. 188-196

Foresthills, West City, and Metro2 were very different educational institutions. They had different demographics, dynamics, and cultures. Yet, in each place, racial processes were at work. Each was what Thompson (1975) and Wacquant (2002) have labeled a “race-making institution.” As Wacquant elucidates, “They do not simply process an ethnoracial division that would somehow exist outside...

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Appendix: Research Methods: Stories from the Field

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pp. 197-210

In the beginning of their book Journeys through Ethnography, Lareau and Shultz (1996: 2) lament the scarcity of texts that show “how research actually gets done.” They argue that field researchers historically have engaged in a mix of what DeVault (1997) describes as “discretion and disclosure.” Either overly general or “filled with platitudes” (Lareau and Shultz 1996: 2), such work...


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pp. 211-220


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pp. 221-234


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pp. 235-244

About the Author

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p. 245

E-ISBN-13: 9780813547039
E-ISBN-10: 0813547032
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813532240
Print-ISBN-10: 0813532248

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Series in Childhood Studies
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner, Ph.D., Founder of Rutgers University Center for Children and Childhood Studies See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 54772885
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Race in the Schoolyard

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Discrimination in education -- United States.
  • Students -- United States -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • United States -- Race relations.
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