Monday, November 7, 2011

Cullen on Burkholder, Color in the Classroom: How American Schools Taught Race

Zoe Burkholder's Color in the Classroom: How American Schools Taught Race is an "elegantly conceptualized and executed little book," writes Jim Cullen at History News Network.  His review begins:
In the liberal imagination -- and in more than a little Civil Rights scholarship -- the story of race relations in the first half of the twentieth century is a long arc that bends toward justice. It is a progressive tale, one in which belief in the power of ideas to shape society gets battered, but ultimately affirmed, as evidenced by the most cherished dimensions of the welfare state, among them the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But for many, the keystone of this arch is the Supreme Court Decision of Brown v. Board (1954), upon which rested hopes for future generations.
One might think, then, that a chronicle of racial education in this half-century would be one of ascent to this plateau. But for Zoe Burkholder, professor of education at Montclair State University, Brown signifies a lost opportunity, a fork in a road that led away from meaningfully grappling with the the complicated reality of structural racism. Instead, she says, we've inherited a post-multiculturalism regime which, for all its putative embrace of nuanced diversity, is little different than the the static, simplistic "cultural gifts" curricular approaches that characterized attempts to manage demographic pluralism at the turn of the last century.
Continue reading here

I heard Burkholder present on this and read parts of the manuscript when she was writing.  I highly recommend this book.  Of interest to anyone working on race and education, the history of Brown and desegregation, and more.