Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown (Hardback)
  • Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown (Hardback)

Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown (Hardback)

Hardback 240 Pages / Published: 03/03/2011
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There is lots of popular and scholarly concern today about why black students aren't doing better in school. The most popular explanation, the "acting white" thesis, is that they have a culture that rejects achievement-that students' peer cultures hold them back. As Karolyn Tyson convincingly demonstrates, that is not the main or even a central explanation of black academic underachievement. Instead of looking at the students, Tyson argues that when and where students understand race to be connected with achievement, it is a powerful, if indirect, lesson conveyed by schools. Integration Interrupted focuses on the consequences, particularly for black students, of the practice of curriculum tracking in the post-Brown era, and on the relationship between racialized tracking and the emergence of academic excellence as a "white thing." Desegregation may have been officially outlawed over fifty years ago, but race now determines which classes students are in: black students are typically placed in general and remedial classes and whites in advanced classes. In effect, same school, but different schooling. Right after Brown, it was easy to see the deliberate use of tracking to separate kids in schools that courts had mandated integrated. The practice still exists in many schools, though perhaps exercised more subtly, but with same outcome-tracking, including gifted and magnet programs, contributes to distinct racial patterns in achievement. Through ten years of classroom observations and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, and school personnel in thirty schoools, Tyson found that only in very specific circumstances, when black students were drastically underrrepresented in advanced and gifted classes, did anxieties about "the burden of acting white" emerge. But "acting white" is not the only nor the most important consequence of tracking for black students. Tyson reveals how the practice influences high achieving black students' conceptions of racial identity, achievement, and getting ahead; what courses they enroll in, who their friends are, and how they navigate peer pressure with being studious. In short, they face many of the same challenges as white youths face but with significant additional burdens. The rich narratives on the lived experience of black students in Integration Interrupted throw light on the complex relationships underlying the academic performance of black students and convincingly demonstrates that the problem lies not with students, but instead with how we organize our schools.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199736447
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 490 g
Dimensions: 244 x 162 x 20 mm

Integration Interrupted is a masterpiece. In this beautifully written and meticulously researched book, Karolyn Tyson's close examination of how our schools are implicated in the creation of oppositional culture among all students, white as well as black, should occasion a major rethinking among scholars and policymakers about the mechanisms and processes that produce racial inequality in American education. * Pamela Barnhouse Walters, James H. Rudy Professor of Sociology, Indiana University *
Using the voices of students from kindergarten to senior year, Tyson historicizes the 'acting white' epithet. Noting that rarely does educational success form the content of 'acting white,' Tyson traces this term to the structure of desegregated schools, notably the racialization of achievement through visible school policies. By excavating the contextual factors involved, Integration Interrupted makes an important contribution, one that offers no comfort to those quick to blame black students for their disadvantages. * Samuel R. Lucas, University of California, Berkeley *
Integration Interrupted is an important contribution to the literature on race and academic acheivement. Tyson effectively shifts the focus of the "acting white" debate from black students' culture to local school structures such as the demographics of the student population and the racial composition of advanced classes. The author highlights how "racialized" tracking in schools works to undermine the academic and social benefits we have come to expect from students' attendance at integrated, racially diverse schools. * Contemporary Sociology *
In Integration Interrupted, Tyson users over ten years of qualitative research with data from 250 students in over thirty elemtnary and secondary schools... Tyson shows that school context and structures tend to shape students' attitudes around achievement. * Social Forces *
Tyson's book... is insightful and well written. * American Journal of Sociology *

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