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It's now 50 years since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, yet for many students in our country, regardless of their color, separate but equal remains the de facto status of their educational experience. In Divided We Fail, Crystal England calls for a new unity among public education professionals, asking them to raise their consciousness beyond the walls of their own school buildings to recognize the stubborn inequities between the educations of our country's haves and have-nots.
Recounting the ways in which our education system fails to provide a level playing field for all students, England shows why it's vital for all educators to understand the issues at hand and support reform efforts aimed at giving every student an equal education. But England offers more than strong words and moving anecdotes, she shows how any teacher or administrator can help remedy inequity through best-practice teaching, thoughtful character education, an awareness of individual learning styles, and focused learning communities. Her method for reform begins in individual classrooms-where trust and respect are presented as powerful alternatives to the myopic message behind standards and testing-then emanates outward to the building, the district, and beyond.
The notions of justice for all and equal opportunity have come crashing down in many public schools, especially those with high concentrations of poor, immigrant, and minority students. But it doesn't have to be that way. With Divided We Fail, anyone in any school can make change now and start replacing the outcomes-based values of our current education system with the truly American values of trust, equity, justice, and respect.