Immigrant Children in American Schools: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography with Selected Source Documents

Immigrant Children in American Schools: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography with Selected Source Documents

Immigrant Children in American Schools: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography with Selected Source Documents

Immigrant Children in American Schools: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography with Selected Source Documents

Excerpt

In a perceptive foreword to Colin Greer's The Great School Legend, the sociologist Herbert J. Gans observes: "Moreover, one of the most important implications which can be drawn from Colin Greer's study is that in the past, poor people did not succeed economically through the school, but that as they succeeded economically, they could exert pressure on their children-and the teachers -- to make sure that their children would succeed in school. This is also one of the implications of the Coleman Report, and suggests that educational success follows upon economic success, not the other way around Consequently, unless the schools are able to reverse their historic role, which I doubt, the only way today's poor can escape is through the economy, and only then will they be able to see to it that their children can succeed in school."

Of course, Professor Gans has oversimplified a complex set of interacting social forces: and worse, he has confused the nostalgia which accompanies the new ethnicity with the grim realities of early immigrant experiences in urban America (e.g., "Today, only the successful immigrants are remembered, which is why we can indulge in a romantic view of the old Lower East Side [ New York City] and other historic slums, ignoring that they were terrible places, probably more terrible than they are today.") ; but Professor Gans' reaction to Colin Greer's book would not have been unanticipated. What Colin Greer has done in The Great School Legend is to challenge the myth which surrounds the American school, "that progressive vision of the . . .

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