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ERIC Number: EJ742092
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Politics and Historical Imagination
Perlstein, Daniel
History of Education Quarterly, v44 n1 p101-104 Spr 2004
This article traces back to the time when virtually no educational research or policymaking takes integration seriously, when the courts regularly declare segregated districts unitary, when the rhetoric of race-blind social justice has been abandoned by the left and appropriated by the opponents of equality. This leads students' and other American's skepticism about school integration. Such doubts both limit students' ability to understand the history of American education and circumscribe their political and social imagination. In this article, the author examines how the "Brown" decision is portrayed in two American history textbooks, one used in middle schools today and the other used thirty years ago. "A More Perfect Union," whose authors include prominent historian Gary Nash, is popular today. In a remarkably inaccurate statement, the book claims that the "Brown" decision "ordered school integration to proceed immediately." The book tells students that the "Brown" decision heralded the Supreme Court's declaring segregation illegal in "case after case." On the other hand, the "Quest for Liberty," a 1971 text offers a far richer and more multifaceted historical account than does the dumbed- and dumbing-down "A More Perfect Union." The older book accurately reports that the Supreme Court demanded that segregation be ended "at a reasonable rate of speed." The book traces the emergence of the civil rights movement not only to the "Brown" decision but also to Cold War foreign policy concerns and to the activism of World War II veterans who returned from the battle against Nazism determined to end racism at home. Here, the examination of the contrasting textbooks challenges to consider how one may mirror "A More Perfect Union's" lowered aspirations in one's own school work. The discussion of one's own situation fostered one's capacity to imagine alternatives to it and introduces an analysis of "Brown." (Contains 7 footnotes.)
History of Education Society. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Educational Policy Studies, 360 Education Building MC-708, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-333-2446; Fax: 217-244-7064; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Brown v Board of Education