Race and Educational Reform in the American Metropolis: A Study of School Decentralization

By Edwards, Ralph | The Journal of Negro Education, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

Race and Educational Reform in the American Metropolis: A Study of School Decentralization


Edwards, Ralph, The Journal of Negro Education


Race and Educational Reform in the American Metropolis: A Study of School Decentralization, by Dan A. Lewis and Kathryn Nakagawa. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995. 192 pp. $57.50, cloth; $18.95, paper.

Reviewed by Ralph Edwards, Boston College.

According to the authors of this book, "the decentralization of big city schools incorporates and co-opts the demand for educational improvement into the bureaucracy. Rather than resolving issues of race and class, decentralization has masked [them] in inclusionary policies" (p. 167). For these scholars, then, decentralization is but a ruse for maintaining the status quo of unequal educational opportunity between urban, mostly minority, school districts and those located in predominantly White areas. This argument is presented in Race and Educational Reform in the American Metropolis through a careful analysis of how decentralization was conceived and implemented in five major cities: New York City, Detroit, Dade County (Miami, Florida), Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Most of the data the book draws upon was collected during an earlier decentralization study conducted by senior author Lewis, a professor of education and social policy at Northwestern University, and supported by a 1988 Spencer Foundation grant. This data consists primarily of interviews he conducted with educational, political, and community leaders in the five cities under study and with persons those leaders recommended to him. Ample reference is made to these interviews throughout the book, which contains several useful tables and an appendix at the end describing the methodology employed. The cities were selected, the authors tell us, for two principal reasons: (a) their school systems typically embody what has come to be known as "urban education," and (b) their public schools were decentralized in response to the concerns of minority communities. Additionally, the approaches to decentralization adopted by these cities serve to illustrate what the authors consider the two basic strategies through which this particular reform is implemented in urban settings, namely, empowerment and enablement.

The empowerment model, Lewis and Nakagawa (an assistant professor of education at the University of California-Irvine) contend, results from pressures outside a school system to reform it. This model calls upon parents and other principal stakeholders of a system to take control of how it is run. The enablement model, by contrast, is created from within a system, with parents and others assisting the system's professionals in improving student performance. In the latter case, outside interests (especially parents) have support and advisory roles; in the former, they have the power of governance. New York City, Detroit, and especially Chicago are offered by the authors as examples of empowerment cities; Dade County and Los Angeles exemplify enablement models. The authors note that school-based management (SBM), which is often associated with empowerment, is actually an enablement strategy because, under it, school professionals decide how schools are run. SBM, they point out, promotes "empowerment with respect to teachers and staff rather than parents and community" (p. 15). In the end, however, both strategies are seen by these researchers as an "institutional shell game" (p. 5), in which real power never changes hands. Despite decentralization, they conclude, poor communities continue to be denied the human and financial resources needed to make their school systems work.

At the outset (indeed, in the book's very first sentence) the authors state their fundamental concern: "This book," they write, "is about the education of African Americans in our large cities" (p. xi). This point of departure leads rather naturally to a discussion of urban school desegregation because decentralization evolved essentially from failed efforts to desegregate inner-city public schools.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Race and Educational Reform in the American Metropolis: A Study of School Decentralization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.