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ERIC Number: EJ826286
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb
Pages: 21
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Tilting at Windmills? Judge Justine Wise Polier and a History of Justice and Education in New York City
de Forest, Jennifer
History of Education Quarterly, v49 n1 p68-88 Feb 2009
Judge Justine Wise Polier's judicial career illuminates the interconnections between the history of the New York City public schools and the Children's Courts, making clear that for many children who found themselves in trouble, justice and education were intertwined. Critics of the children's courts have argued that they were flawed from their inception, and that combining the functions of social control and rehabilitation in a single institution was doomed to fail. However, as Judge Polier's judicial struggles show, the court's shortcomings did not solely inhere in their design, but were rooted in a complex mixture of individual failure, lack of political will, hostility toward poor and minority children among many of the adults who were charged with protecting them, and inimical conditions in the city's "de facto" segregated schools. As such, the children's courts were unable to weather the turbulence of the late 1960s when reformers and parents rejected the idea that the State had the ability to protect the city's children and demanded instead decentralized school governance, local accountability, and parental authority. Whether people adjudge Polier quixotic for tilting at windmills, or an effective defender of children's rights, her quest makes clear that the failure of the children's courts might better be understood as a defeat. (Contains 83 footnotes.)
Blackwell Publishing. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8599; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York