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ERIC Number: EJ1080503
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0311-2543
Achievement, Race, and Urban School Reform in Historical Perspective: Three Views from Detroit
Franklin, Barry M.
Education Research and Perspectives, v31 n2 p11-29 2004
No problem affecting US urban schools during the twentieth and now into the twenty-first century has proved more pervasive, persistent, and intractable than that of low academic achievement. Proposals to reform urban schools during this period can more often than not trace their impetus to any of a number of concerns surrounding the low academic performance and resulting failure of this or that segment of the student population of big city school systems. The public schools of Detroit, Michigan represent a case in point. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, the efforts of Detroit's school administrators to provide for a growing and more diverse school population resulted in the introduction of a differentiated curriculum. At mid-century the concern about low achievement took a different form as the city's growing black population challenged the authority of the largely white administrators and teachers who held sway over the city's schools. Black Detroiters claimed that the schools that their children were attending, which were often racially segregated, were not providing the same quality of education that was being offered to the city's white children. The resulting dispute surrounding the achievement of Detroit's black youth served as an impetus for African Americans to define their own educational vision apart from that of the city's white school leaders and represented a major contributor to the pattern of racial discord that characterized Detroit and much of the rest of urban America during the 1960s and 70s. By the end of the century, Detroit's landscape had changed. The impact of the demographic and economic changes that had been affecting US cities since the end of World War II had transformed Detroit into a majority African American city with a black-led political apparatus. Black control of the schools, however, did not lessen the achievement problems affecting children attending the city's schools. If anything, the problem seemed greater and less amenable to improvement and resulted in a successful movement on the part of the State of Michigan to reorganize Detroit's schools through a mayoral takeover of the board of education. In this article, the author explores these three moments in the history of Detroit's public schools to consider what they say about the role that concerns over academic achievement and race have played in the effort to reform urban schools.
University of Western Australia. 35 Stirling Highway Crawley, Perth, 6009 Australia. Tel: +61-8-6488-2388; Fax: +61-8-6488-1052; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A