Five Miles Away, A World Apart: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in Modern America

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $13.10
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 58%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $13.10   
  • New (5) from $24.90   
  • Used (3) from $13.10   


How is it that, half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, educational opportunities remain so unequal for black and white students, not to mention poor and wealthy ones?

In his important new book, Five Miles Away, A World Apart, James E. Ryan answers this question by tracing the fortunes of two schools in Richmond, Virginia--one in the city and the other in the suburbs. Ryan shows how court rulings in the 1970s, limiting the scope of desegregation, laid the groundwork for the sharp disparities between urban and suburban public schools that persist to this day. The Supreme Court, in accord with the wishes of the Nixon administration, allowed the suburbs to lock nonresidents out of their school systems. City schools, whose student bodies were becoming increasingly poor and black, simply received more funding, a measure that has proven largely ineffective, while the independence (and superiority) of suburban schools remained sacrosanct. Weaving together court opinions, social science research, and compelling interviews with students, teachers, and principals, Ryan explains why all the major education reforms since the 1970s--including school finance litigation, school choice, and the No Child Left Behind Act--have failed to bridge the gap between urban and suburban schools and have unintentionally entrenched segregation by race and class. As long as that segregation continues, Ryan forcefully argues, so too will educational inequality. Ryan closes by suggesting innovative ways to promote school integration, which would take advantage of unprecedented demographic shifts and an embrace of diversity among young adults.

Exhaustively researched and elegantly written by one of the nation's leading education law scholars, Five Miles Away, A World Apart ties together, like no other book, a half-century's worth of education law and politics into a coherent, if disturbing, whole. It will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered why our schools are so unequal and whether there is anything to be done about it.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Anyone looking to understand the 'lay of the land' in kindergarten-through-12th-grade education should look no further than James Ryan's outstanding 'Five Miles Away, A World Apart' . . . Mr. Ryan's book is both sweeping and accessible."--Phil Brand, The Washington Times

"Americans seem to concur that school desegregation is the right and just policy, and also that we will do nothing to pursue it. We also don't talk or think about it--until a book such as Five Miles Away comes along. Jim Ryan has produced just the right mix of case study and rigorous analysis to both help us grapple with an issue that most people would rather ignore, and to prod us into realizing the urgent need to do so. The focus on urban/suburban boundaries is exactly targeted and the attention to politics and the law, as well as to real children, is essential."--Jennifer L. Hochschild, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University

"[R]equired reading . . . This is the type of book that inspires a cheer on one page and a jeer on the next. It raises issues many Americans . . . prefer not to raise. His conclusions and recommendations defy ideological categorization . . . Regarding education, the country neither is living up to its ideals nor meeting the needs and aspirations of young people. Many students prosper, of course; many do not. Ryan asks why. His answers command respect."--Richmond Times-Dispatch

"[An] excellent book . . . in Five Miles Apart, [Ryan] carefully surveys the evidence and concludes that steps must be taken to address the social and economic segregation of American public schools. A system of greater choice, rather than compulsory busing, is his prescribed solution, one made more politically feasible by changing demographics, and changing attitudes among young adults." --The New Republic's online book review

"Ryan effectively, conclusively enlightens policy makers, professors, school administrators, legal and educational scholars and researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students of school administration by providing an exhaustive discussion of judicial decision making and executive and legislative thinking since Brown v. Board of Education....The author's experience and expertise in law, research, data analysis, and personal interviewing make this an absolute must read for anyone interested in understanding the impact of judicial decision making on desegregation efforts in the US public school system. Summing Up: Highly recommended."--CHOICE

"In this work, James E. Ryan explores the history of integration in America's schools through an examination of court decisions, historical analysis, and previously published education research." -- Political Science Quarterly

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195327380
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2010
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,404,722
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

James E. Ryan is William L. Matheson & Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is a former clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction Freeman and Tee-Jay 1

Part I Past: School Desegregation and Middle America

Chapter l Buying Time 21

Chapter 2 Don't Cross That Line 63

Part II Present: Save the Cities, Spare the Suburbs

Chapter 3 Desegregating Dollars 121

Chapter 4 Like a Russian Novel: School Finance Litigation in State Courts 145

Chapter 5 Limited Choices 181

Chapter 6 The Impact of Choice and the Role of Courts 215

Chapter 7 Lowering the Bar: The Standards and Testing Movement 239

Part III Future: Demography Is Opportunity

Chapter 8 In Search of Ties That Bind 271

Epilogue Freeman and Tee-Jay Revisited 305

Notes 309

Bibliography 347

Index 371

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)