In her skillfully written narrative, Eaton delves into the complex reasons hindering equal access to a quality education for the nation's children, a problem with a long and messy history. Beginning with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the U.S. courts were, for a few decades at least, a place where civil rights made noteworthy gains. But in many places the attempts at desegregation were never really established, and by the '80s, what had been accomplished was quickly being lost. The reasons for today's education faults are, for many, almost undetectable. The author presents a fascinating group of kids from an inner-city school in Hartford, Connecticut, who struggle to learn in a characteristically disheartened and under-funded urban public school. Eaton takes her time illustrating how inner-city students, many from single-parent families of the working poor and from crowded, broken-down neighborhoods, require more support than their suburban counterparts in generously funded schools. Spend a day or a week or a year with many of the students in Room E4, as she did, and the urgent need for improved educational equity becomes clear. Eaton supplements her portrait with accounts of the courtroom progress of Sheff v. O'Neil, a lawsuit striving to make legally clear the "blameless" segregation created by the convergence of zoning regulations, municipal politics, discriminatory housing and banking policies and the creation of suburbs. She demonstrates that de jure segregation has been replaced by de facto segregation. There are few winners in this story, and it's made clear that the problems of our troubled public schools have no easy or quick solution.
As far as a critique for this book goes, I cannot say much that I would change. While the story was at times slow, that is to be expected with a narrative that describes real life accounts. I personally did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would, the reason for this is because I am not a fan of the style...
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