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Despite the Best Intentions by John B. Diamond & Amanda E. Lewis
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Despite the Best Intentions

How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools

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Narrator David Sadzin
Length 8 hours 51 minutes
Language English
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On the surface, Riverview High School looks like the post-racial ideal. Serving an enviably affluent, diverse, and liberal district, the school is well-funded, its teachers are well-trained, and many of its students are high achieving. Yet Riverview has not escaped the same unrelenting question that plagues schools throughout America: why is it that even when all of the circumstances seem right, black and Latino students continue to lag behind their peers?

Through five years' worth of interviews and data-gathering at Riverview, John Diamond and Amanda Lewis have created a rich and disturbing portrait of the achievement gap that persists more than fifty years after the formal dismantling of segregation. As students progress from elementary school to middle school to high school, their level of academic achievement increasingly tracks along racial lines, with white and Asian students maintaining higher GPAs and standardized testing scores, taking more advanced classes, and attaining better college admission results than their black and Latino counterparts.

An in-depth study with far-reaching consequences, Despite the Best Intentions revolutionizes our understanding of both the knotty problem of academic disparities and the larger question of the color line in American society.

John Diamond is a sociologist of education who focuses on how race, ethnicity, and social class intersect with school leadership, practices, and policies to shape educational opportunities and outcomes. He is the Hoefs-Bascom Professor of Education at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education. Previously, he was an associate professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and past research director for a consortium of US schools that used research to address racial achievement disparities.

Amanda Lewis studies racial dynamics in the contemporary US. Her research focuses on how race shapes educational opportunities and on how our ideas about race get negotiated in everyday life. She is the author of the award-winning Race in the Schoolyard: Negotiating the Color Line in Classrooms and Communities along with several other volumes. She is on the faculty in the Departments of Sociology and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

When he was seven, David Sadzin's first grade teacher gave him a paragraph to read out loud. She interrupted him halfway to proclaim him "The Ringmaster" in his class's musical extravaganza about the circus. He's been using his voice to get out of trouble ever since. After a few intense years on New York's stages, performing traditional and experimental theater, improv, and sketch comedy, he's now settled comfortably in front of the mic in his home studio in Brooklyn.

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