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Since the year 2000, the population of people of color and of poor families in the suburbs has been rapidly increasing, making these areas far more diverse than they were a generation ago. Along with the increase in diversity has come re-segregation, leaving some schools with very high concentrations of low-income students and students of color, while others remain mostly white. These re-segregated schools are often not well-prepared to deal with the issues their students face. In addition, they are often subject to strict accountability demands that focus on improving test scores. These conditions create a unique situation for schools serving high populations of students of color and low-income students, one that is strikingly similar to urban schools. The New Reality for Suburban Schools presents three case studies of inner-ring suburban middle schools coping with these issues. Although the principals and teachers were aware that students faced poverty and lived in increasingly racially and ethnically diverse communities, a variety of factors prevented them from using practices that would have addressed the students’ needs. As a result, these suburban schools did not provide much better educational opportunities to low-income students and students of color than their urban counterparts. Readers of this volume can learn how school leaders and teachers try to negotiate educational mandates while serving their students. The book concludes with suggestions for improving the ways these schools serve their students.
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Jessica T. Shiller (PhD., New York University) is an assistant professor at Towson University in Maryland. She was named 2011–12 PDK emerging leader in education and is the author of several publications, most recently «Preparing for Democracy: How Community-based Organizations Build Civic Engagement among Urban Youth,» which appeared in the January 2013 issue of Urban Education.Review:
«Shiller pulls off one of the rarest feats when it comes to scholarship on racial and economic justice in schools. Her analysis is both theoretically astute and full of practical on-the-ground observations and ideas that guide the reader toward a vision for equitable education that rejects deleterious deficit views. That she focuses on suburban contexts, so often ignored in studies of race and class, makes this book an essential contribution to the social justice education knowledge base.»
(Paul C. Gorski, Associate Professor, George Mason University, Founder of EdChange, and author of Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Eliminating the Opportunity Gap)
«Shiller’s book provides a compelling comparative case study of three suburban middle schools and shows us what it means for formerly all-white suburban schools and teachers to confront changing demographic realities. It offers important lessons to educators, scholars, and families, demonstrating the importance of building authentic relationships for success. Shiller reminds us that we need to the prioritize our accountability to the communities we serve as opposed to the tests we administer.»
(Amanda Lewis, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago)
«Every teacher, parent, community organizer, counselor, and school leader interested in understanding and improving his or her practices to more effectively align with racial demographic shifts among students in schools – all schools – should read this book. The New Reality for Suburban Schools reminds readers that – ready or not – all schools in the United States are increasing in diversity. This book is a tool to assist those inside and outside of schools in building their capacity to fight for social justice.»
(Richard Milner IV, Helen Faison Professor of Urban Education, University of Pittsburg and author of Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms)
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