No Excuses

No Excuses

Closing the Racial Gap in Learning

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.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743265225 | 
  • October 2004
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Read an Excerpt


There's nothing the school can do.

Latisha Robinson, a black eighth-grader in Elk Grove, California

You've got to have to want to do better.

Kiarra Gibson, her classmate

The student body of Cedarbrook Middle School in a Philadelphia suburb is one-third black, two-thirds white. The town has a very low poverty rate, good schools, and a long-established black middle class. But an eighth-grade advanced algebra class that a reporter visited in June 2001 contained not a single black student. The class in which the teacher was explaining that the 2 in 21 stands for 20, however, was 100 percent... see more

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