How the Middle Class Negotiates and Justifies School Advantage
From the UW Bookstore website:
Friday • April 25 • 7pm
Dividing Classes: How the Middle Class Negotiates and Justifies School Advantage
Reading & Book Signing U District store
Ellen Brantlinger studied the relationship between social class and educational success in her Indiana hometown. And instead of simply looking at the way the historically marginalized lower classes fail or succeed based on class, she looked at the middle and affluent classes as well to see how their value systems corresponded to their educational goals. Sponsored by the University of Washington School of Education.
And from the UW College of Education website:
Brantlinger’s book is receiving acclaim as a “take-no-prisoners ethnography” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dividing Classes: How the Middle Class Negotiates and Rationalizes School Advantage combines observation and interviews in an analysis of how social class structure affects educational success.
According to Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor of Educational Equity at UCLA, “Dividing Classes forces us to confront perhaps the most troubling and least studied challenge to equitable schooling: Middle-class Americans’ presumption that their own superiority accounts for their school success and the life chances that successful schooling brings.”
Dividing Classes challenges the notion that our school system is progressive or that it is based on equality. Brantlinger, a retired professor of education and Curriculum Studies Doctoral Program Coordinator at Indiana University, builds her researchon 31 candid interviews with administrators, principals, teachers, and parents in a small Midwest town.“Many students and colleagues are uncomfortable with my slant that advocating for your children may not be a very democratic or a fair thing to do,” explains Brantlinger. “But that is a great discussion starter, talking about how schools are shaped by class dominance.”
The College of Education has housed many of these discussions since Dividing Classes was selected as a College of Education “common book” by faculty president Philip Bell. Since its selection, Dividing Classes has been read by the College of Education community, built into coursework, and anchored into the broader community dialogue through focused events. “Sometimes educators will see progress in race and class inclusiveness, although in truth progress has been reversed recently,” Brantlinger states. “As the wage gap grows, as the suburbs become more exclusive of particular types of people, and as residential areas become less diverse, there has been a reversal of race and class inclusiveness.”
“As a radical humanist, I believe that virtually all of us have a tendency towards social reciprocity, particularly in times of crisis,” Brantlinger summarizes. “I think that times are difficult right now – we are in a war, our country is viewed negatively, there is a growing wage gap – and this time of crisis is an opportunity for people to come together.”
I think Ellen Brantlinger's book is absolutely worth reading. Whether you agree or disagree with what she says, it provides an excellent starting place to tackle a difficult and controversial issue.
Want a preview? Click here to listen to Ellen Brantlinger talk about school choice and self-selected segregation on NPR’s Talk of the Nation program.