Penn State

Erica Frankenberg - Associate Professor of Education Policy Studies, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Dismantling Desegregation

Author: Gary Orfield, Susan E. Eaton, and the Harvard Project on School Desegregation

Book Description:

When I was working on my college honors thesis, the one book I realized I had to have to understand how desegregation had ended in the district I grew up in (Mobile, Alabama) was Dismantling Desegregation. This book, published in 1996 in the aftermath of three Supreme Court decisions earlier in the decade, explained for the first time that desegregation that had remade southern schools to be the most racially integrated of any region in the country was being dismantled due, in no small measure, to federal court decisions that lifted long-running desegregation plans. Dismantling Desegregation actually grew out of a graduate seminar that was turned into a book including a mixture of case studies and description of social science findings and legal history. This book illustrated the political ideologies behind the shifting understanding of desegregation, and portended the consequences of these shifts in ways that turned out to be quite prescient. By the end of my senior year when I finished my thesis, I knew I wanted to study desegregation further, particularly as it affected southern schools, by enrolling in graduate school -- and I also knew that I wanted to study with the author of Dismantling Desegregation, Gary Orfield. The following year, as a graduate student, I not only studied with Gary but I also helped him and other colleagues to organize a conference to study the resegregation of southern schools. This conference helped to launch my career, and more than a decade later with countless shared collaborations, I still aspire to Gary’s ideals of public scholarship: rigorously studying vital social problems and communicating the results of these studies to a variety of academic and policy audiences as well as working with practitioners to make schools and communities more equitable.

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