Two ideas have dominated American thought about education during the last half-century. One is that schooling is the key to mobility and social justice; the other that it might be a major instrument of social and cultural integration. Education has long been seen as both the chief antidote to poverty and the principal means for assimilating ethnic and racial minorities. While there always has been evidence to belie these notions, it went virtually unnoticed until the late 1960s. Since then, however, events have cast serious doubt on these two venerable articles of faith. It no longer seems so clear that education is the high road to equality or social integration.
The most perplexing issue is the relation between schooling and so...
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