David Tyack, Seeking Common Ground: Public Schools in a Diverse Society. In this accessible little book, an eminent historian of education details how many of our most pressing contemporary educational problems have long roots. Can schools ameliorate social ills? Are children from different racial, ethnic, economic, and linguistic backgrounds more alike than different? Should schools strive for unity or valorize diversity? Does education represent a public or private good?
Vanessa Siddle Walker, Their Highest Potential: An African American School and Community in the Segregated South. Many Americans learn that Brown v. Board of Education was a triumphant court case that sought to equalize educational opportunity amidst massive white resistance. In this view, the Supreme Court and the federal government are often portrayed as the ‘good guys’ and African Americans in the South as the lucky recipients of court decrees. What if this view is incorrect, or, only partially correct? What if, instead, we learn about the struggles and joys and love of a segregated black school in the years before Brown? What if, instead, we see forced desegregation as the breaking up a strong black institution and the dismissal of a generation of strong African American teachers?