MixedThe New York Review of BooksEwing discounts the \'quantitative reality\' put forth by [Mayor Rahm] Emanuel and other reformers. She instead endorses community critics who pointed to \'another reality\' to explain why their schools were closed: racism. But she isn’t shy about invoking her own quantitative statistics in the case against school closings: for example, she notes that test scores plummeted in schools after districts announced plans to close them, and that students’ scores didn’t rise when they relocated afterward. Ewing is deeply attuned to differences across races in Chicago, but she’s much less concerned with differences within them, and she doesn’t seriously examine diverse perceptions about schools within the black community ... She also tends to take her subjects’ observations about racism at face value. Everyone who perceives racism is assumed to be a victim of it, no matter what other forces are in play. And everyone charged with racism is viewed as a perpetrator of it ... So, if another scholar were to show that students’ test scores rose after their schools closed, would Ewing temper her claim about the racism of the policy? I doubt it. Despite her insistence that racism isn’t a question of belief, her argument that the school closings were racist ultimately rests on the beliefs of African-Americans on the South Side of Chicago. The people she interviews think that the school closings were racist, and we should listen closely to them. But we condescend to them when we place their beliefs beyond critique, as if the victims of Chicago’s wrongful educational history can never be wrong themselves.
MixedThe New York Review of BooksThe involvement of the courts is recounted in vivid detail by Justin Driver, who sets out to rescue them from the purgatory to which critics across the political spectrum have consigned them ... Driver aims to breathe new life into the old lawyer-driven narrative. Courts and attorneys might not be as crucial as earlier generations imagined in their paeans to Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston. But if you look at the long record of judicial intervention on matters of education, you see that the courts still matter for young Americans. Unfortunately, Driver is on firmer ground for that claim when he looks at issues other than race ... what has the Court done to further the cause of racial justice and equality? ... as James Baldwin famously observed, de facto meant that segregation happened but nobody did it.