DISMANTLING DESEGREGATION

THE QUIET REVERSAL OF BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION

Segregated schools are back with a vengeance, according to the Harvard-based editors, the director and assistant director of the project that conducted these powerful case studies. The 1954 US Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education was, Orfield and Eaton assert, doomed to failure from the outset; although it outlawed school segregation and laid the foundations for challenges to racial and ethnic discrimination in other areas of American life, it ``failed to spell out, either in educational or numerical terms, what successful desegregation should look like.'' The result, they continue, has been divisive strategies for desegregation, such as school busing programs, accompanied by white flight to the suburbs, district gerrymandering, and other attempts to get around the Court's decision. Subsequent rulings have weakened Brown v. Board of Education's intent. Notably, the editors remark, in 1990 the Supreme Court affirmed the idea of ``unitary status,'' giving lower courts extensive power over deciding whether individual school boards had made good-faith efforts to provide equal educational opportunities within their jurisdictions. Thanks to that decision and others like it, Orfield and Eaton suggest, ``the road to resegregation or at least away from desegregation seemed to be wide open''; one such road is the creation of ``magnet schools,'' in which academically gifted students—usually white or Asian—are offered `` `schools within schools,' meaning that students in the magnet program have little or no contact with students in the comprehensive, nonmagnet program.'' The editors convincingly argue that the ideal of desegregation is disappearing as the Supreme Court, led in several recent cases by Clarence Thomas, chooses the path of judicial avoidance by claiming that segregation is the result of demographic shifts that the courts have no ability to counteract. Down this road, Orfield and Eaton maintain, lies the promise of further ``urban apartheid,'' and steadily narrowing opportunities for minority students.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1996

ISBN: 1-56584-305-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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