The racial gap in academic performance between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and Latinos and blacks, on the other hand, is America's most urgent educational problem. It is also the central civil rights issue of our time, say Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom. Unequal skills and knowledge are the main sources of ongoing racial inequality, and racial inequality is America's great unfinished business. A wide and tragic gap in learning is evident in affluent suburbs as well as inner cities. But great schools are scattered across the country, as described in inspiring detail by the Thernstroms. These schools are putting even the most highly disadvantaged children on the American ladder of economic opportunity. There are no good excuses for the perpetuation of long-standing inequalities, the Thernstroms argue eloquently. The problem can be solved, but conventional strategies will not work. Fundamental educational reform is needed. Carefully researched, accessibly written, and powerfully persuasive, this book offers both a close analysis of the current landscape and a blueprint for essential and overdue change.
James Traub Los Angeles Times The Thernstroms have done an enormous service by tracing the great problem of our time to its root and, at the same time, by clearing out of the way so much of the cant that clutters discussion of school reform.
Kim Marshall The Boston Globe Meticulously documented and powerfully written.