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Equality of Educational Opportunity, the Achievement Gap, and the Politics of Desegregation

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Abstract:

The publication of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (1965) and James Coleman’s Equality of Educational Opportunity (1966) mark two powerful moments in the creation of the “crisis in black education.” In the wake of and in direct response to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Moynihan Report, pointing to an achievement gap, first, between whites and blacks and, second, between black girls and boys, asserted that the “matriarchal pattern …. begins with education” and ends with the educational deprivation of black boys. The following year, the Coleman report reiterated the damaging influence of the black family on educational achievement, arguing, “[t]he sources of inequality in educational opportunity appear to lie first in the home itself” (though not necessarily with the absence of black fathers). These logics obfuscated the history of white supremacy, erased the racially-stratified, deindustrializing economy, and influenced how social scientists and educators increasingly approached black youth and their families through the prisms of damage, risk, deprivation, and crisis. Debates over educational equity and concerns about the achievement gap have swelled and ebbed over the past six decades; this paper explores one of those moments. Using desegregation cases, the rich archives of black intellectuals and educators, the letters, Congressional testimony and correspondence of black parents, and the Journal of Negro Education, this paper excavates the multiple and contested meanings of educational equality and the achievement gap. This paper asks: Who are its main authors and what forces animated the discourses of educational equality and the achievement gap at midcentury? What was and continues to be at stake in these debates? Mapping the politics and geographies of these discourses is critical to understanding the policies and institutions undergirding both approaches. Likewise, separately and together both discourses have reconfigured the meanings and transformed the possibilities of childhood and youth for African Americans.
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Association:
Name: 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History
URL:
http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286615_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Lindquist, Malinda. "Equality of Educational Opportunity, the Achievement Gap, and the Politics of Desegregation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, OH, <Not Available>. 2018-06-18 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286615_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lindquist, M. "Equality of Educational Opportunity, the Achievement Gap, and the Politics of Desegregation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 102nd Annual Meeting and Conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, OH <Not Available>. 2018-06-18 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1286615_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: The publication of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (1965) and James Coleman’s Equality of Educational Opportunity (1966) mark two powerful moments in the creation of the “crisis in black education.” In the wake of and in direct response to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Moynihan Report, pointing to an achievement gap, first, between whites and blacks and, second, between black girls and boys, asserted that the “matriarchal pattern …. begins with education” and ends with the educational deprivation of black boys. The following year, the Coleman report reiterated the damaging influence of the black family on educational achievement, arguing, “[t]he sources of inequality in educational opportunity appear to lie first in the home itself” (though not necessarily with the absence of black fathers). These logics obfuscated the history of white supremacy, erased the racially-stratified, deindustrializing economy, and influenced how social scientists and educators increasingly approached black youth and their families through the prisms of damage, risk, deprivation, and crisis. Debates over educational equity and concerns about the achievement gap have swelled and ebbed over the past six decades; this paper explores one of those moments. Using desegregation cases, the rich archives of black intellectuals and educators, the letters, Congressional testimony and correspondence of black parents, and the Journal of Negro Education, this paper excavates the multiple and contested meanings of educational equality and the achievement gap. This paper asks: Who are its main authors and what forces animated the discourses of educational equality and the achievement gap at midcentury? What was and continues to be at stake in these debates? Mapping the politics and geographies of these discourses is critical to understanding the policies and institutions undergirding both approaches. Likewise, separately and together both discourses have reconfigured the meanings and transformed the possibilities of childhood and youth for African Americans.


 
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