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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Thirty-Two: John Ogbu, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement (2003)

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THIRTY-TWO

John Ogbu, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement (2003)

Jan Armstrong and Tryphenia B. Peele-Eady

What accounts for the difficulties some groups face in attaining high levels of academic achievement in public schools? Why do the children of some families enroll in more demanding courses, earn higher grades, garner higher scores on standardized tests of academic achievement, and gain admission to better colleges than others? And why do students display such a wide range of attitudes toward school?

In his 8-month ethnographic study of racial disparities in academic achievement in a middle-class school district, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement, John Ogbu (2003) addresses some of these questions. As many chapters in this volume illustrate, issues of fairness, equality, and justice in schooling have long concerned American educational analysts. Since the 1960s, a number of scholars and researchers have held that racial discrimination and economic stratification produce educational disparities. Although he acknowledges that the system (social structure) played a part in creating the academic performance gap, Ogbu focuses on social processes that might help to account for racial disparities in educational attainment, even when ample financial resources are available. He concludes “that the Black community and the school system were both responsible for the academic disengagement of Black students” (2003, p. 274), and he makes several recommendations for changes in policy and practice...

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