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Multiethnic Moments: The Politics of Urban Education Reform

Bari Anhalt Luis; Erlichson Susan; Fraga Mara; Clarke Rodney; Sidney Hero

Publication Year: 2006

When courts lifted their school desegregation orders in the 1990s—declaring that black and white students were now "integrated" in America's public schools—it seemed that a window of opportunity would open for Latinos, Asians, and people of other races and ethnicities to influence school reform efforts. However, in most large cities the "multiethnic moment" passed, without leading to greater responsiveness to burgeoning new constituencies. Multiethnic Moments examines school systems in four major U.S. cities—Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—to uncover the factors that worked for and against ethnically-representative school change. More than a case study, this book is a concentrated effort to come to grips with the multiethnic city as a distinctive setting. It utilizes the politics of education reform to provide theoretically-grounded, empirical scholarship about the broader contemporary politics of race and ethnicity—emphasizing the intersection of interests, ideas, and institutions with the differing political legacies of each of the cities under consideration.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vi-ix

Consider a thought experiment. Suppose in the 1950s that employment, rather than education, had been the opening wedge for bringing an end to racial discrimination and promoting equal rights. Suppose also that the primary responsibility for this push had lain with Congress and the White House, not the Supreme Court. Coalition building across racial lines would have had a much different springboard. The nation’s politics...

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pp. x-xiii

Mark Twain, eminent writer and observer of American race relations, once said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Until recently, the same could be said about theorizing race and ethnicity in the study of American politics. As 2000 Census data were released and analyzed, we saw a spate of stories in major newspapers detailing the growth and urban concentration of Latinos and the...

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pp. xiv-xvi

This book reflects a particularly long period of development, so we think back on this process with an especially heartfelt appreciation for those who helped us reach this stage. Clarence Stone, Jeff Henig, and Bryan Jones developed the larger civic capacity and education project that supported our efforts. As Principal Investigators and fellow researchers, each championed our work and helped us clarify the unique cases we were dealing...

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CHAPTER ONE Interests, Ideas, and Institutions: The Politics of School Reform in Multiethnic Cities

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pp. 1-31

In Denver, two African American families mulled over the options for their children.1 Ronnie and Judy Young started their sons in Denver Public Schools (DPS) and then moved them to private schools due to overcrowding. But their sons were not doing as well as they had hoped despite the comfortable surroundings. Citing teachers’ inflexibility about teaching methods, they moved their boys back into DPS. “They are in the mix of things...

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CHAPTER TWO Race, Ethnicity and Education

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pp. 32-55

Race and ethnicity are critical elements of U.S. politics. Numerous observers and scholars understand race and ethnicity as historically central to the U.S. social and political systems—indeed, a major “dilemma” for American society (Burnham 1974; Myrdal 1944; Key 1949; Tocqueville 1958; Schmidt 2000). Although the United States is often referred to as “a nation of immigrants,” scholars increasingly acknowledge that...

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CHAPTER THREE Local School Reform Agendas: Changing the Rules of the Game

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pp. 56-91

During 1990s, courts ceased mandating desegregation initiatives in San Francisco, Denver, and Boston; in Los Angeles, the courts allowed the school district to develop a voluntary desegregation plan in the 1980s. Our field research centered on these critical periods as communities emerged from local desegregation struggles to search for new school reform agendas. As these local policy agendas shifted, “the rules...

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CHAPTER FOUR Interests and Education Reform in Multiethnic Cities

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pp. 92-115

An interest-based perspective is a natural starting point for our analysis of the school reform puzzle. To understand why the concerns of new school constituencies are not reflected in school-reform agendas, we focus first on an analysis of the interests involved. The belief that interests matter—usually interpreted to refer to self-interested and purposive pursuit of material goals, social status, and power as a central force in politics...

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CHAPTER FIVE Ideas and Education Reform in Multiethnic Cities

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pp. 116-142

As chapter 4 illustrates, analyzing the economic and political resources of racial and ethnic groups is a natural starting point for understanding their varying situations in the education arena. For example, factors such as voting rates, group cohesiveness, and socioeconomic status do partially explain why Latinos have less influence on the education system than blacks, even though both groups have an interest in the...

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CHAPTER SIX Institutions and Education Reform in Multiethnic Cities

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pp. 143-169

It seems commonplace now to say that “institutions matter” in the policy making process. It is almost akin to arguing that “politics matter.” Indeed, at the federal level, scholars of American government have explored how formal and informal institutions such as committee organization, rules, and norms structure the outcomes of the policy making process. Despite being well studied at the federal levels, institutions and the role that they play...

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CHAPTER SEVEN A Developmental Perspective on Education Reform in Multiethnic Cities

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pp. 170-186

Focusing on the intersection of interests, ideas, and institutions provides a useful analytical framework for exploring school reforms in multiethnic cities. It is also instructive for broadly comparing the dilemmas of the 1980s and 1990s with the past—that is, the coalitions of interests, ideas, and institutions predominant during different historical periods. In shorthand, we refer to those coalition patterns and orientations as...

Methods Appendix

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pp. 187-205

Data Appendix

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pp. 206-219


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pp. 220-231


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pp. 232-235


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pp. 237-243

E-ISBN-13: 9781592135387

Publication Year: 2006