THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN: School Integration in American Society by Ray C. Rist

THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN: School Integration in American Society

Email this review


During the 1973-74 school year, Rist witnessed the desegregation of Portland, Oregon's, Brush School, a middle-class elementary school with an all-white faculty and student body (500), which enrolled--one can't say welcomed-- 30 black children. Assuming a pose of color blindness, the school offered no orientation to the incoming youngsters and barely prepared the classroom teachers: in-service training began a month after school started and recommended texts arrived in late February. The black children performed abysmally and endured social isolation: low academic status in the competitively structured classroom assured low social standing as well. The situation sounds dismal, yet everyone interviewed gave good marks to the program because it seemed to proceed smoothly. Except, perhaps, the several black children who gradually dropped out in anger and frustration. Past maintains that the program failed because the tacit goal was racial assimilation rather than pursuit of cultural pluralism with opportunities for all to shine. Not exactly a revolutionary insight. Also, the number of children was too small and classroom practices were outdated. (In this sense, many white students failed just as miserably, but their social status was several notches higher.) Wary of generalizing, admitting his bias, Rist does concentrate on pertinent aspects of the process but his research merely confirms what one might anticipate. His analysis is apt, even though it won't win him any friends in Portland.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press