This book, which illuminates the roots of failure in inner-city education, challenges, at its most general level, two fallacies. The first is the view that the failure of inner-city schools was inevitable given the concentration of economic and racial disadvantage in the inner city. The second is the view that the problems of inner-city schools were due to the faults of individuals—incompetent or racist teachers, dysfunctional families, or unmotivated students. In response to both of these fallacies, the book argues that the problems of inner-city schooling are the legacy of school policy choices made decades ago. It also traces these choices and their consequences over six decades, starting in the early twentieth century, when the inner-city ghettos were just beginning to form, and focuses on the schools of Chicago, which faced many of the same troubles as the Harlem schools that Kenneth Clark profiled.
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