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Constructing Difference: Historical Reflections on Schooling and Social Diversity

by David B. Tyack - 1993

The United States has never been so diverse, it seems, and the challenges facing the schools appear unprecedented.

Issues of social diversity have polarized the politics of education during the last generation. The media have focused on different issues over time, running the gamut of desegregation, bilingual instruction, prayer in the schools, multicultural curriculum, gender policies and practices, separatist Afrocentric academies, and common civic and cultural literacy. The United States has never been so diverse, it seems, and the challenges facing the schools appear unprecedented.(n1)

Perhaps. There is a surge of immigrants coming mostly from Asia and Latin America. Basic changes in gender roles and in family life ensue as women increasingly participate in the paid labor force and in politics. The persistence of an urban "underclass" composed mostly of impoverished people of color makes it clear that the quest for racial justice has fallen far short of its goal. But policy talk about questions of diversity in education today often ignores a long history of the social and political constructions of difference in American society and public schools. These cultural beliefs have changed over time, partly in response to transformations in society, and have been employed to protect privilege, to mobilize groups to fight subordination, and to define and advance group welfare. Conceptions of race, gender, and ethnicity that once were taken for granted as part of the "natural" order in society have become increasingly problematic, and these need to be placed in a comparative and historical framework in order to be fully understood.

It is easier to devise fashionable slogans about diversity in education than to develop coherent and just policies. The First Amendment lays down a rough principle to follow with respect to church and state in public schools--that the government shall not establish religion or prohibit its free exercise--though in practice the establishment clause has proven difficult to interpret. Because of a long history of explicit racial discrimination, the courts have come to regard race as a "suspect category" in distinguishing between people in public schools (though this principle, too, has become blurred in practice). On other issues of social diversity in education the Constitution and its interpreters are either silent or ambiguous. There is no explicit separation of ethnic group and state, no special court of gender appeals, no guarantee of proportionate representation of social groups in school politics. Rather, leaders have often based policies concerning social diversity in education on either-or polemics and patchwork solutions designed to satisfy changing coalitions of power among contending groups. There is no more important question in educational policy than how to deal with social diversity, but discourse on this subject has all too frequently resembled photographs that are not so much underdeveloped as overexposed.(n2)

As Paula Fass says, "the shape of American education in the twentieth century . . . is crucially related to the problems associated with American diversity."(n3) The historical conflicts, compromises, retreats, advances, and contradictions evident in the schools' encounters with social differences and similarities persist into the present and pose an intellectual as well as a practical challenge to those who seek social justice today: Amid the welter of programs for dealing with social diversity today, how to ground school reform in sound policy? How might educational goals and practices do justice, in John Higham's formulation, to "individualistic rights and group solidarity . . . universalistic principles and particularistic needs"? What might be strategies that "develop the necessary appreciation of diversity" while renegotiating "what the participants in our kaleidoscopic culture have in common?"(n4)

One way to clarify such issues is to probe the comparative histories of social constructions of "gender," "race," and "ethnicity" and the educational policies linked to these conceptions of diversity. Comparison can illuminate the degree to which boundaries between different kinds of groups are porous and can suggest ways in which individuals may experience multiple identities in different social settings. Studying cultural constructions of difference over time shows how they varied in response to shifting alignments of political power and changing climates of opinion.


Conceptions of social differences often spin complex meanings from supposedly natural distinctions between people. "The problem with this language of difference," Michael Katz observes, "is both philosophic and practical. We assume that verbal distinctions reflect natural or inherent qualities of people.... For reasons of convenience, power, or moral judgment, we select from among a myriad of traits and then sort people, objects, and situations into categories which we then treat as real."(n5)

The range of concepts of "gender" illustrates the power of such cultural constructions of social difference. In different societies and times people have given a vast array of meanings to the biological differences between the sexes, each seeming natural and real. Consider cultural interpretations of hermaphrodites: Clifford Geertz reports that in some cultures intersexed people are honored as wise counselors, in others killed as demons, and in the contemporary United States regarded as medical anomalies to be fixed by surgeons. However fanciful may be some conceptions of gender, they customarily assure that men will remain in charge; the cash value of cultural beliefs is evident in the fact that employed white women have earned on average about three-fifths of the income of white men.(n6)

The impulse to classify humans into different "races" has also been part of a changing discourse and practice of power and subordination. However arbitrary such distinctions may be -- as in the notion that "Negroes" and "whites" are essentially different -- notions of race come to seem real and thus shape behavior. Like white women, black men have earned only about three-fifths of the income of white men. Concepts of racial inferiority form what Horace Mann Bond called "a crazy-quilt world of unreality" in a society that proclaimed equality, opportunity, and democracy as goals while it "brutalized, degraded, and dehumanized" African-Americans "by every instrument of the culture."(n7) During World War II, for example, the racial caste system of the South made it seem natural that white Nazi prisoners of war on their way to a prison camp in the South should be allowed inside a "whites only" dining room in a railroad station, but their black guards should not.(n8)

Notions of "ethnicity" as applied to European immigrants, likewise, have changed over time and served the interests of different groups. Ardent "Americanizers" defined newcomers as strangers, the potentially dangerous "aliens" who must become "naturalized" and accept the values and leadership of whites born in this country -- the so-called native- born. Some defined ethnic difference as genetic, some as cultural. People disagreed whether immigrants needed to become assimilated culturally in order to advance economically. Some defenders of cultural pluralism urged the retention of "old world traits" intact as if these were unchanging heirlooms instead of constantly changing cultural practices. Interaction altered both the newcomers, who discovered their "otherness" in the process of immigration and in the self-consciousness of becoming "American," and the American-born, who lived in a society of permeable boundaries in which cultural influences moved in every direction.(n9)

Invidious distinctions often infuse the categories that divide people into groups. This creates a dilemma, notes Martha Minow: "How to overcome the past hostilities and degradations of people on the basis of group differences without employing . . . those very differences."(n10) One may deplore, for example, the notion that some races are inferior, but in order to correct the educational injustices buttressed by that concept, one must pay attention to the way racism has structured opportunity and exploitation.(n11)

In a society so socially diverse as the United States, it is not surprising that major controversies have erupted in public education over the twin themes of unity and diversity. Such policy debate has helped to define and mold what Thomas Bender calls "the public culture." He argues that continuing contests of diverse groups for "legitimacy and justice" have created this public culture and established "our common life as a people and as a nation." It is essential to understand what has been excluded from as well as included in this public culture and to ask "why have some groups and some values been so much -- or so little -- represented in public life and in mainstream culture and schooling at any given moment in our history?" "Understanding our peoplehood," he insists, "demands not an assumption of sameness but, rather, a relational sense of the differences that mark and make our society."(n12)

The Americanization of European immigrants illustrates this interaction. Some educators used draconian measures to assimilate the newcomers, while others, believing that coercion was counterproductive, tried to graft the branches of many cultures onto the trunk of Anglo-American society. Meanwhile, different groups of immigrants reacted to Americanization in a variety of ways. Some resisted it as a threat to their core values and institutions. Some welcomed it as a doorway into opportunity. And some argued that true Americanism meant respect for social diversity; patriotism and ethnic loyalty were quite compatible, they believed. Europeans were hardly a homogeneous group. Only by looking at groups in reciprocal relation to one another can one avoid the exaggerations of imposition and victimization, on the one hand, or a romantic view of ethnic self-preservation on the other.(n13)

An approach that looks at reciprocal relations between groups avoids two over simplifications in educational history: that elites have successfully imposed their will on subordinate groups, or the opposite view that socially diverse groups have managed to preserve autonomy as cultural islands in a particularistic society. The boundaries between groups have typically been porous, and any one person -- say, an African- American, middle-class, Catholic woman -- had a mixture of identities that were salient in different ways in different contexts. The different groups composing American society have shaped one another as they interacted, but this play of cultures has not taken place on a level field.


Most of the prominent policymakers in public education and most administrators of public school systems have been native-born, white, prosperous, male, and Protestant. As "mainstream" leaders, they have generally taken their own beliefs about social diversity for granted, at least until these cultural constructions were challenged politically. They did not think of themselves simply as one group among many -- nonbrown, nonfemale, nonimmigrant, nonpoor -- but instead regarded their own values and interests as the standard. The "others," however -- immigrants, African-Americans, Catholics, Jews, females, Asians, and similar groups -- have hardly been content to be wax on which leaders stamped their educational imprint.(n14)

Differences of ethnicity, race, gender, class, and religion have always been present but not equally salient as public issues during different periods in our educational history. In the nineteenth century, for example, religious and ethnic conflicts over schooling rent communities. In the Progressive Era northern policymakers mostly ignored African-Americans but agonized over the assimilation of European immigrants of the working class. Issues of race agitated the politics of schooling in the generation following the Brown decision in 1954. Gender justice became an explicit goal during the late 1960s and 1970s. Although class conflict often permeated these controversies, the debates were rarely formulated openly in class terms.(n15)

Over the years, educators have proposed a wide array of solutions to cope with -- or ignore -- social diversity. The strategies they pursued reflected in large degree alignments of power between groups, influential public opinion in their communities toward different social groups, changing definitions of social problems, emerging conventional wisdom among professional educators, legislation and litigation, and the power of social movements that sought to redefine cultural constructions of social difference through changing the consciousness or conscience of the public. Thus educational leaders operating in changing and complex matrices of social forces might adopt policies to segregate blacks in the southern system of white supremacy or to desegregate them in the years following the Brown decision; to rapidly assimilate immigrants in northern cities in the Progressive Era or to celebrate social diversity in a multicultural curriculum in later years; to treat students in a color-blind manner in the 1950s or in a gender-blind fashion in the 1970s; to compensate for the presumed academic deficiencies of the poor or of "minorities" in the 1960s; or to preserve or even accentuate group differences during the last generation in order to enhance self-esteem.

Strategies for dealing with group differences have often overlapped, rarely being so crisp as the policy labels might suggest. More important, one powerful belief system has undergirded most of the approaches: the deep-seated American ideology of individualism that, at base, diminished the lasting significance of group membership.

Policymakers in public education were working within an institution that had a distinctive character and set of traditions. They were dealing with children and youth who were thought to be uniquely malleable. They inherited a conception of the common school as an agency for preparing the young equitably for the contests of later life. They wanted schools to be "above politics." Both the Protestant-republican ideology of the nineteenth century and the educational science of the twentieth tended to stress individual differences as more important than group differences. Hence the leaders of public education often resisted thinking about differences of power and culture between social groups when they devised educational programs and policies. To the degree that they were aware of inequalities, they tended to focus on the prejudice of the individual as an attribute to be changed by appropriate instruction rather than seeing discrimination as a form of group subordination and supremacy.(n16)

Psychology, the academic discipline most influential in the field of education, has reflected and reinforced individualism by using the person as the chief unit of analysis. In this way of seeing, which boasted the label "scientific," educators have portrayed differences between students -- in "intelligence," interests, temperament, or likely social destiny, for example -- as characteristics of individuals rather than as products of class or culture. They have considered it their duty to differentiate the curriculum to match the presumed needs of individuals with different abilities, interests, and likely vocations. This apparent individualization, however, has blurred the actual group impact of education. Though theoretically they have adapted schooling to individuals, in practice educators have also created tracks and niches in schools that have tended to segregate pupils by class, gender, and racial or ethnic background.(n17)

Educators have rarely sought, however, to preserve islands of cultural difference or to match instruction to the cultures students brought to their classrooms. As Michael Olneck has argued, even when school officials sympathetically recognized group differences and pursued apparently pluralistic strategies -- as in intercultural or multicultural curricula -- they usually wanted the final product to be the autonomous, prejudice-free individual, the citizen of what Higham calls the "Great Community," a modernized free agent who escaped from, and chose not to employ politically, a sense of collective group identity.(n18)

Although endorsing this ideal of the autonomous individual, leaders have actually dealt differently with various groups. Educators, for example, were eager to sweep the children of European immigrants into public schools and to teach them, as the New York superintendent of schools said in 1918, "an appreciation of the institutions of this country [and] absolute forgetfulness of all obligations or connections with other countries because of descent or birth."(n19) By contrast, educational leaders rarely protested when blacks were consigned to segregated and grossly underfunded schools, and they rarely perceived gender inequalities in coeducational schools. To explore how constructions of social diversity affected different groups I now turn to three categories of diversity: white ethnic groups, race, and gender.


In 1891 leaders in the National Education Association (NEA) declared that all children should be compelled to attend schools taught in English. They feared that "foreign influence has begun a system of colonization with a purpose of preserving foreign languages and traditions and proportionately of destroying distinctive Americanism." Demanding compulsory Americanization, one educator asserted that "when the people established this government they had a certain standard of intelligence and morality"; once Americans could assume "that an intelligent and moral people will conform to the requirements of good citizenship." By the 1890s, he warned, this outlook could no longer be taken for granted: "People have come here who are not entitled to freedom in the same sense as those who established this government." It was unthinkable "to lower this idea of intelligence and morality to the standard" of the newcomers.(n20)

The NEA leaders spoke during a turning point when elites were seeking to draw sharp contrasts between the "old" immigrants from Northwestern Europe, who presumably were easily assimilated to an American mold, and the "new" from Southeastern Europe, who presumably did not fit the native pattern of citizenship. By then the immigrants pouring in massive numbers into American cities were chiefly Italians, Poles, Russians, and others who were mostly Catholic or Jewish. Already apparent in the NEA discussion were some central themes in the nativist construction of ethnic difference that would dominate much public discourse about immigrant education for the next thirty years: that "foreign colonies" were forming; that the newcomers were inferior in intelligence and morality to those who preceded them; and that their children must be compelled to attend school, learn English, and be deliberately inculcated with American political and cultural values.

In the 1890s a patriotic colonel in New York City invented the Pledge of Allegiance to inculcate a common loyalty through what would become a familiar school ritual. Social scientists were beginning to classify European "races" (what today would be called nationality groups) and to rank them on a scale of inferiority and superiority. And some politicians and pundits were starting to insist that the nation could be saved only by excluding, or severely limiting, immigration from the offending nations. They began a campaign that would result in federal immigration restriction laws in 1921 and 1924.(n21)

By 1909, 58 percent of students in the thirty-seven largest American cities had foreign-born parents. No longer, thought reformers, could schools go about business as usual. It was necessary to pass effective compulsory attendance laws and to catch all the newcomer children in the net.(n22) The child was coming to belong more to the state and less to the parents, leading educator Ellwood P. Cubberley believed, and the state's interest and duty was to educate the child to be an American.(n23) While there was at least in theory a separation of church and state, there was to be no separation of ethnicity and state, no bill of rights for social diversity.(n24) Underlying most attempts at Americanization, as Olneck has pointed out, was a "symbolic delegitimation of collective ethnic identity," and this became deliberate state policy.(n25)

Reformers disagreed not so much about the goal of assimilation as about the best means of accomplishing it. Some urged a sharp-edged intervention: In order to assimilate such a motley collection of humanity, schools should drive a wedge between students and the parental culture and language, thereby assimilating the second generation. Humanitarian reformers who knew immigrant families firsthand -- for example, settlement house workers and child labor inspectors -- recognized the pain this confrontational strategy could bring. They wanted to give children health care, free lunches, and counseling, and they sought to match schools better to the cultural backgrounds of immigrants so that assimilation could be transitional rather than abrupt.(n26)

The outbreak of World War I brought to a boil nativist anxiety about "foreign colonies" and a potential fifth-column of unassimilated aliens within the nation. "By 1916," writes John F. McClymer, "cultural diversity had come to be defined as a national crisis."(n27) The Red Scare and nativist organizations kept paranoia alive well into the 1920s. Employers, churches, federal and state bureaus, patriotic associations, and many other organizations joined forces with public schools to eradicate "hyphenism" among foreign-born adults and to ensure that their children were superpatriots. John Dewey attacked this frenzy for conformity in 1916 when he told the National Education Association that "such terms as Irish-American or Hebrew-American or German-American are false terms because they seem to assume something which is already in existence called American, to which the other factor may be externally hitcht [sic] on. The fact is, the genuine American, the typical American, is himself a hyphenated character."(n28)

Groups like the American Legion, the American Bar Association, and the Daughters of the American Revolution pressured dozens of states to pass laws prescribing the teaching of American history and the Constitution. Whereas in 1903 only one state required the teaching of "citizenship," by 1923 thirty-nine did so. The National Security League lobbied to ban the teaching of German and to prescribe superpatriotic instruction. Thanks in part to its efforts, thirty-three states mandated that all teachers pass a test on the Constitution in order to be certified. By 1923 thirty-five states had enacted legislation that made English the only language of instruction in public schools. In Oregon in 1922 the Ku Klux Klan, which had made the little red schoolhouse a symbol of Americanism, lobbied successfully for a law mandating that all children attend public schools.(n29)

Anything foreign was suspect. In New York City schoolchildren who went into the tenements to sell war bonds were instructed to report adults whose loyalty was dubious. The campaign to define "American" in a narrow conservative mold and to enforce conformity of thought and deed among immigrants outraged many ethnic leaders, much of the ethnic press, and a number of native-born liberals. Despite threats and coercion, only a small minority of adult immigrants enrolled in Americanization classes, and those that did rarely completed the courses.(n30)

In reaction to the hard-edged Americanizers, a few writers called for ethnic self-preservation. In 1924, for example, Horace M. Kallen proposed "a democracy of nationalities" in which all groups would enhance "the self-hood which is inalienable in them, and for the realization of which they require 'inalienable' liberty." Kallen thought that culture was "ancestrally determined" rather than an interactive and constantly changing set of practices: "Men may change their clothes, their politics, their wives, their religion, their philosophies, to a greater or lesser extent; they cannot change their grandparents." Public schools, he thought, should attempt not to stamp out but rather to preserve ethnic "self-realization through the perfection of men according to their kind."(n31)

The policies of total ethnic preservation or total assimilation bore little relation to the everyday lives of immigrant families, whose cultural practices blended the old and the new in kaleidoscopic ways. The newcomers were enormously heterogeneous in economic class, formal schooling, religion, economic skills, political experience, and cultural and familial patterns. No stereotype of "the immigrant" could capture such diversity. Some immigrants saw the public school as a gateway to economic opportunity. Others played down education and instead wanted their children to work to contribute to the family's collective climb out of poverty. Ethnic and religious communities built their own institutions -- churches, dubs, mutual benefit societies, and political organizations -- as mediating structures that eased adaptation to American life while preserving valued traditions. The children of immigrants often learned American ways most powerfully not from teachers but from peers intolerant of cultural differences. Aspirations and alienation criss-crossed the lives of immigrant families, only dimly understood by many of the educators who sought to assimilate them.(n32)

The frenzy of nativism during World War I and its aftermath turned Americanization into yet another pedagogical specialty, especially for adult educators and writers of civics texts. Public schools became accountable for producing patriots. A good proportion of the experts in Americanization, however, deplored paranoid ideology and harsh methods. After laws in 1921 and 1924 restricted immigration, educators could go about assimilating the second generation at a less frenetic pace. Social scientists began to portray assimilation as a long-term and complex intergenerational process. "In the eyes of many liberals," Nicholas V. Montalto writes, "the Americanization movement epitomized all that was wrong in the American attitude and policy toward the immigrant: the bankruptcy of racism and chauvinism, the tendency to blame the immigrant for domestic social problems, and the failure of coercion."(n33)

These liberal professionals, many of whom were second-generation immigrants, believed that attacks solidified ethnic groups rather than dissolving them. Denigrating the language and cultures of students' parents, they argued, split apart families and created an alienated second generation that was neither foreign nor American. Increasingly these educators, many of them second-generation immigrants themselves, argued that a more tolerant, slow-paced approach would produce better results than high-pressure assimilation. They still thought that the public schools should Americanize pupils, but they wanted transitional programs that taught tolerance for diversity and preached the doctrine that the United States was a composite of the contributions of many nations.(n34)

Many schools and other organizations serving immigrants staged pageants, dances, plays, and ethnic feasts that stressed the "gifts" made by immigrants to American society. They celebrated differences while ultimately working toward assimilation -- a strategy of gradual transition rather than forced Americanization. In the 1920s and 1930s, some progressive educators experimented with forms of cross-cultural learning. Polish pupils in Toledo, Ohio, for example, studied their parents' history and culture; students in Neptune, New Jersey, created ethnic family trees and learned the history of their ancestors; in Santa Barbara, California, pupils prepared exhibits on Chinese art, Scandanavian crafts, and Pacific cultures; and Mexican children in Phoenix, Arizona, attended a class, taught in Spanish, on Mexican history and culture.(n35)

The best-articulated version of this early form of pluralism in education appeared in the 1930s in the "intercultural education" movement led by Rachel Davis DuBois, a Quaker and former teacher. In 1924 she inaugurated in Woodbury High School in southern New Jersey a series of student assemblies on the achievements of different ethnic groups, pioneering in a practice that was to become a hallmark of her career. As she expanded her work, she enlisted powerful allies: progressive educators at Teachers College, Columbia University, leaders of ethnic organizations, and social scientists concerned with intergroup relations.(n36)

Although this was a disparate coalition, most of the activists in the intercultural education movement agreed on some basic goals. They wanted to dispel prejudices and stereotypes that might trigger a new burst of nativism and intergroup violence during the hard times of the Great Depression and later the turmoil of World War II. They were concerned about what Louis Adamic called "thirty million new Americans," the youthful second generation suspended between two worlds, a group described by sociologist Robert Park as "footloose, prowling and predacious." They believed that an appreciation for the traditions of the parents would bridge the family gap and help the second generation to find a productive adjustment to American society. They agreed that all Americans, those "on the hill" as well as those "across the tracks," needed better knowledge of one another in order to establish social harmony. By "cultural democracy" they meant fair play for all groups, self-respect, and appreciation for diversity.(n37)

DuBois and key supporters of the intercultural movement disagreed about an important strategy, however, as Montalto has documented. She thought that each ethnic group should be studied in a separate unit rather than mixing them together. Only in this manner, she thought, would children of immigrants and minorities be able to acquire a positive self- conception and thereby cure "the alienation, rootlessness, and emotional disorders afflicting the second generation." Psychic strength would result from strong positive identification with one's ethnic group.(n38)

Influential colleagues in the movement dissented, especially members of the Progressive Education Association and many of the social scientists associated with intercultural education. One critic dismissed her argument about self-esteem as "compensatory idealized tradition," and many were worried that the separate approach would heighten, not diminish group conflict and would solidify ethnic islands. On the eve of World War II, a time of heightened concern about national unity, two superintendents said that the DuBois curriculum would "arouse in the thinking of so-called minority groups an undesirable emphasis upon their own importance and a determination to insist upon their own rights." What they wanted was an intercultural strategy that would use psychological methods to preserve civic peace, not mobilize dissidents to secure their rights.(n39)

Olneck has found in civics texts and the writings of the interculturalists an underlying ideology of individualism and an ideal of including all people, as individuals, in a greater unity called American society. The cure for group conflict was understanding and appreciation; over time this would result in the inclusion of members of all groups in the mainstream of society as autonomous individuals. Oppression became reduced to stereotyping, and separate ethnic identity was to be dissolved as painlessly as possible.(n40)

Professional educators founded and led the intercultural education movement. Although it enjoyed some support from various ethnic organizations and individuals, it did not emerge from immigrant grass roots. By contrast, much of the energy behind "multicultural education" in recent times stems from the demands of African-Americans, Hispanics, and other subordinated groups. Some activists saw that curricular change could go well beyond the inclusion of a few "contributions"; knowledge of how the group was victimized and a better understanding of its internal history could mobilize people in groups, not as individuals, to overcome subordination. Some also saw ethnic studies and bilingual- bicultural education as a way of preserving the distinctive cultures of groups, rather than as a step toward cultural assimilation.(n41)

Thus a competing construction of pluralism began to emerge, one that suggested a goal of equality of groups as opposed to equality of individuals. It demanded a new definition of the public culture that did not simply celebrate cultural differences and then go on to prize a core of common values based on middle-class American individualism. The new version of pluralism was explicitly political and challenged not just the traditional academic canon but also entrenched interests that had sustained racism. Not surprisingly, this particular view has aroused far more controversy than did earlier forms of intercultural education.(n42)


There are sharp contrasts between the history of the education of white immigrants and that of people of color--groups like African-Americans, Japanese, and Chinese -- who were categorized as members of inferior "races." Although some policymakers wanted to exclude European immigrants of "inferior stock," most believed them to be assimilable and that it was their duty, in fact, to turn them as soon as possible into American citizens who shared similar rights and culture. Relatively few educators, however, followed the lead of intercultural reformers like Rachel DuBois who demanded a frontal assult on racism in school and society.

People of color often had to fight simply to gain access to public education and frequently had to build and staff their own schools. In the South after the Civil War, for example, African-Americans mobilized to create their own schools. When whites gained control of public schools in the South, partly by disenfranchising blacks, they designed an educational system calculated to subordinate African-Americans, to cramp them under a rigid job ceiling, and to deny them the rights of citizens, (n43)

Exclusion and segregation also characterized whites' treatment of "Mongolians." Congress banned Chinese immigrants, and states like California deprived Chinese and Japanese of many of the rights of citizenship, including the opportunity to send their children to public schools. The quintessential strangers,, these Asians were defined by descent and identified by their physical characteristics. Whites feared them as competitors for jobs, stereotyped them in vicious ways, and thought them incapable of ever becoming Americans. When Asian groups formed their own supportive institutions and clustered in enclaves, these actions showed that they were clannish. Isolated and feared as a domestic fifth column, Japanese-Americans were herded into detention centers during World War II at the very time when interculturalists were insisting that racial and ethnic discrimination was un-American.(n44)

Another group that faced severe discrimination on grounds of color, but not only for that reason, was comprised of children of Mexican immigrants. They occupied an ambiguous racial status in a nation that had drawn sharp lines between whites and Negroes. In Texas in the Salvatierra decision in 1930, persons of Mexican descent were declared members of the "white race" (in distinction to African-Americans, who were totally segregated from whites in that state), while in California that year the Attorney General declared them to be "Indians" and hence subject to school segregation. But even where they were legally white, legal decrees and the conventional wisdom of educators justified separate or different schooling on the grounds that they had distinctive "needs" and "traits." They were poor and often migratory; they spoke Spanish, not English; and they scored low on tests oriented to middle- class Anglos.(n45)

Families of Mexican descent, usually impoverished and with little political power, were used as cheap labor when needed and deported when they were not. Denied political power, they had little influence over the schooling of their children. In Texas in 1928, about 40 percent of Mexican children did not attend school, and of those that did, almost half were in the first grade. Educators frequently segregated them, assumed that they needed only a minimal education, and devoted few resources to their instruction. A Texas superintendent explained why:

Most of our Mexicans are of the lower class. They transplant onions, harvest them, etc. The less they know about everything else, the better contented they are.... If a man has very much sense or education either, he is not going to stick to this kind of work. So you see it is up to the white population to keep the Mexican on his knees in the onion patch.(n46)

In fact if not in law, Mexicans were often treated in schools as a separate race.

The cultural construction of ethnic difference was fundamentally different from that of race. The racial ideology of white supremacy defined people of color as nonassimilable, ineradically different, and therefore not full citizens. An elaborate set of racist beliefs justified segregation, political subordination, hostile and demeaning stereotypes, and economic exploitation of people of color. To be born white was to have powerful advantages in the political and economic system and to dominate the public culture.(n47)

How did white educational leaders respond to "the Negro problem"? This question is hard to answer, in part because of silence on the issue in many quarters. Educators talked a lot about assimilation of immigrants but little about the systematic discrimination against blacks. Also, strategies for educating blacks differed by region, by time, by individual. In the South it was only the rare and courageous white educator who challenged the caste system in education, so embedded was white supremacy in the society. Fearful of alienating its southern members, the major national educational association, the NEA, did not desegregate its southern branches until the 1960s (though the organization had long endorsed better "intergroup relations").(n48)

In the North, African-Americans often faced less blatant but still powerful prejudice and institutional racism. The "science" of education, on which many educators relied in making decisions about students, was riddled with racist assumptions. Culturally biased IQ tests, whose defects were magnified by racist interpretations, seemed to prove the mental inferiority of African-Americans and to justify relegating them to nonacademic tracks. "Realistic" views of the job market impelled counselors to steer blacks into manual work. Social differences that were the product of discrimination and poverty became validated as the way things "naturally" were. It is thus not surprising that when Cubberley classified library books on Negroes, he put them on the shelf next to those on the "education of special classes" along with the blind, "retarded," and "crippled."(n49)

Some individual educators and organizations did attack racism in education. The Intercultural Education Bureau, for example, sought to bring about greater understanding between blacks and whites. The favored approach was the educational strategy of changing prejudicial attitudes rather than mounting political and legal attacks on the institutional structures that held African-Americans down. It is probable, in any case, that only a small minority of white educational leaders from 1890 to 1954 openly confronted the racism embedded in American society and its system of public education.(n50)

Blacks themselves, allied with this small minority of white educators and activists in other fields, took the lead in fighting the educational discrimination that was buttressed by the cultural construction of the "Negro race." Voteless in the South and pushed to the periphery in the North, they faced a cruel dilemma: To accept segregation was to ratify their status as noncitizens and to send their children to schools that were grossly unequal, but to enroll their children in desegregated white- dominated schools often meant denying teaching jobs to blacks, exposing their children to prejudiced whites, and failing to instill the self- respect that came from studying their own history and culture. The brilliant spokesman for social justice for African-Americans W. E. B. DuBois argued at different times for both strategies.(n51)

Horace Mann Bond recalled that in 1934 "racial segregation appeared to be an immutable feature of the American social order."(n52) Twenty years later, however, came the Brown decision of the U. S. Supreme Court banning de jure segregation. Help from whites in the meantime came primarily not from educators but from what would then have seemed unlikely quarters, the federal government and the U.S. Army. Fass argues that "the New Deal's educational programs exposed and were attentive to the educational needs of black Americans in a wholly unprecedented way."(n53) Likewise, the results of draft tests in World War II revealed the gross inequities in black education, particularly in the South.

The New Deal did not have a coherent educational or racial policy, and black schools in the South remained impoverished and segregated in the 1930s. But some activist New Dealers did find ways to assist African- Americans educationally through programs of employment and relief such as the National Youth Administration (NYA), the Works Progress Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (even though the programs were frequently segregated). These experiments later served as precedents for 1960s' programs in the War on Poverty (Lyndon B. Johnson had been a star NYA administrator in Texas in the depression).(n54)

When World War II arrived and acute manpower shortages appeared, the legacy of neglect of black education became apparent. About twice as many blacks as whites were rejected for the military, almost always because they failed "to meet minimum educational requirements." This meant that proportionally many more whites were drafted than blacks. In response, the Army mounted a massive remedial literacy program to counteract the results of the starvation diet of schooling received by southern blacks for decades.(n55)

By 1946 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had attracted nearly 450,000 members and was pressing the series of educational desegregation cases that culminated in the Brown decision in 1954. Even before Brown, African-Americans had glimpsed an opportunity to use schooling as a way to become integrated as full citizens in a polity that had excluded them. But the dilemma of segregation persisted, as W. E. B. DuBois declared shortly after the court spoke: Blacks knew "what their children must suffer [in desegregated schools] for years from southern white teachers, from white hoodlums who sit beside them and under school authorities from janitors to superintendents who despise them." African-Americans could lose, he wrote, the opportunity to study their own history of resistance and achievement and "eventually surrender race solidarity and the idea of American Negro culture to the concept of world humanity, above race and nation. This is the price of liberty. This is the cost of oppression."(n56)

At first, blacks bore the major burden of enforcing their own constitutional rights. Through sit-ins, demonstrations, boycotts, and strikes in countless local communities they challenged the old racial order. The battles brought slow progress: A decade after Brown, 91 percent of southern African-American children still went to all-black schools. Progress in desegregation picked up momentum in the South in the late 1960s as courts and the Civil Rights Act of 1965 increasingly put the weight of the federal government against de jure segregation and as blacks successfully pressed for the vote.(n57)

Desegregation almost always meant opening white schools to blacks, not the reverse. One result in the South was the wholesale firing of black principals and the loss of the black schools as a center of African-American solidarity, as DuBois had predicted. The overwhelming majority of African-Americans indicated in polls that they favored desegregation, in part because it was so tied to their rights as citizens, especially in the South. They also knew that black schools had far fewer resources than white schools; perhaps if white children studied alongside black, as hostages, black students might finally receive a similar education. But in northern cities many African-Americans, dissatisfied with the glacial pace of desegregation, decided to push for their own community-controlled schools in which black staff would predominate and their children could study black culture. If they were going to continue to be defined by their racial status, then they, and not whites, should be in charge of their children's education.(n58)

On the surface this conflicted with the color-blind ideology of Brown and of those white and black liberals who supported racial integration. Underneath both the desegregation and community control strategies, however, was a common aim of African-Americans, despite the diversity among them: to achieve greater power over the education of their children and thereby over their future in a society in which institutional racism, if not the older version of a legalized system of caste, was still a powerful force.(n59)

When black activists have pushed in the last generation for an Afrocentric curriculum, they have often departed from the psychological model of white professional educators who wanted to promote social harmony by showing the "contributions" of all groups to a common society, thereby lessening prejudice. Many African-American school reformers have used a political model instead. They have wanted a black-centered curriculum that could mobilize their people to change the circumstances of their lives by understanding how they had been victimized and by setting their own group goals. W. E. B. DuBois had thought in 1954, as we have seen, that blacks might "eventually surrender race solidarity and the idea of American Negro culture to the concept of world humanity, above race and nation."(n60) The persistence of racism, however, continued to make this seem a distant and ambiguous goal.(n61)


The civil rights movement served as an inspiration and a goad to feminists in the 1960s and 1970s who attacked a pervasive sexism that limited females both in school and later in their adult lives. The term sexism was adapted from the word racism, and both words designated forms of discrimination based (sometimes unconsciously) on invidious social constructions of diversity.(n62)

There have been crucial differences in the way the social construction of gender and of race influenced the life chances of white women and blacks (both female and male), but there have been some similarities. They both were denied the vote and other rights of citizens. Initially, they did not have access to schools, a denial often justified by assertions that they were mentally inferior and hence could not benefit from formal education. When blacks and white women were taught in segregated schools, they usually had substantially fewer resources than those allotted to white males. And because both white women and blacks were restricted to segmented labor markets and faced wage discrimination, their economic returns on schooling were far less than for white males. White female and black male college graduates were paid about the same as white males who only graduated from elementary school. To be born female or black, given the cultural construction of gender and race that shaped participation in key institutions, was thus to share some common disadvantages. To be born both black and female was to face double discrimination.(n63)

Despite these parallels, gender operated differently from race in a number of ways in public schools. One striking contrast was the process of desegregation of the sexes and the races. Horace Mann called the gradual evolution of coeducation "smuggling in the girls." It took place quietly during the first half of the nineteenth century, with little debate, until by 1850 it was standard practice in most public schools. Racial desegregation was, and is, a highly contentious affair in most communities.(n64)

Another dissimilarity is the fact that white girls and boys have shared the whole spectrum of white class and cultural backgrounds, since gender cuts across class and ethnic lines, whereas black families have been disproportionately poor. Because school achievement and attainment heavily reflect class and cultural backgrounds, white girls have performed in school as white boys once they were given the same opportunities, whereas impoverished blacks have been consistently undereducated.(n65)

Under the racial caste system, whites enforced the subordinate position of blacks in the educational system through law and explicit social norms. African-Americans knew that they were members of an oppressed group. When they sought to gain their educational rights as citizens, they had a strong sense of being a collectivity and could target specific forms of educational discrimination. This was less true of white women. Few laws or even explicit school policies treated the sexes differently. When educators did differentiate between boys and girls--often in informal or unconscious ways--many women and men saw nothing wrong since they accepted traditional gender roles as part of the natural order. In policy matters women have not necessarily identified with their own gender or thought that they have been treated unfairly.(n66)

Public discourse about gender policies in schools has reflected conflicting views about preferred relationships between adult men and women as well as norms for boys and girls. Worries about whether women were overstepping their proper sphere or whether the United States was masculine enough to compete with other nations have spilled over into arguments about gender in schools. At different times critics have said that the schools make the girls too masculine, the boys too feminine, or the girls too feminine and the boys too masculine (that is, that schools reinforce gender stereotypes).(n67)

There has been a strange relation between policy talk, silence, and gender practice in the schools. The biggest change in gender practice, the desegregation of the sexes, took place largely without serious controversy. Educators seemed to like coeducation for reasons of institutional convenience more than ideology. When critics of coeducation railed about the "boy problem" or the "woman issue," they had relatively little impact on what happened in schools. For all the talk about gender policies, the basic institutional pattern of coeducation in public schools has remained remarkably stable for a century. Despite some minor curricular differentiation by sex, as in vocational education, girls and boys have mostly studied the same subjects together as if they were institutionally interchangeable. The same was hardly true of blacks and whites.

In the nineteenth century most advocates of coeducation assumed that girls had the capacity and the need to learn more or less what boys learned. The academic performance of girls proved their capacity, and their enthusiasm for schooling demonstrated their commitment to learning. Although activists in the women's movement demanded that all spheres of activity be open to women, most nineteenth-century educators believed that women had a different destiny from that of men. They were to employ their schooling in the separate sphere of women: the family and suitably female services like teaching. Thus pioneers in the education of women stressed both the similar mental abilities of boys and girls and the different social destinies of women and men.(n68)

There was a long tradition of both garden-variety prejudice and "scientific" inquiry, however, that maintained that women and men were essentially different in intellect and temperament as well as in social function. The doctrine of sex differences, therefore, was anathema to feminists, who recognized this ideology as a prop of gender injustice, a way to keep women in their place. Early in the twentieth century a generation of talented women psychologists demolished one by one the propositions of pseudo-science that justified a subordinate role for women by asserting that they were "different," usually meaning inferior. Most feminists regarded coeducation as a corollary of mental equality.(n69)

In the early 1970s feminist researchers who investigated gender practices in schools found that coeducational schools were not, in fact, egalitarian. They documented a whole hidden curriculum and an institutional pattern of gender bias in order to convince policymakers that there was a problem:

Textbooks largely ignored females, and when they did treat them, they portrayed them in highly traditional roles.

Counselors, responding "realistically" to the job market, steered girls to traditionally female occupations.

Studies of teachers' behavior claimed that there was systematic bias- teachers paid more attention to boys and challenged them intellectually more than girls.

Few women occupied positions of leadership in schools (such as superintendent or principal).

Sports, vocational education, and some other official activities of the schools were segregated by sex (and girls typically received fewer resources in their segregated activities).(n70)

For the most part, such discrimination was largely unconscious, implicit rather than explicit, built into the school as institutional sexism that was often more difficult to attack than obvious and deliberate bias. What was necessary, thought many reformers, was to make coeducation truly identical, to eliminate differential treatment of girls and boys, men and women.

In the last decade or so, however, some feminist scholars have challenged both the doctrine of similarity of the sexes and the practice of coeducation. They have argued that differences of cultural experience (but not distinct genes) have produced qualities of character and intellect that distinguish women from men. These qualities, they claim, are not honored in male dominated coeducational schools that stress abstract thought over interrelatedness, assertiveness over compassion, and competition over cooperation. One lesson some draw from this position is that the differences in power and character between men and women make coeducation a recipe for continuing educational subordination.(n71)

The arguments over sexual similarities and differences, like similar disputes about race, have shifted markedly over time and have shaped proposals for reform. The ideal of color-blind and sex-neutral schools is now a target for people who believe that such neutrality is impossible--that in fact such a school would simply express the dominant outlooks of white males. A belief in the basic similarity of boys and girls as learners undergirded coeducation, but a notion of crucial gender differences is now used to argue for a new, "gender-sensitive" form of coeducation or for as-girl schools. "In a society in which traits are genderized and socialization according to sex is common," writes Jane Roland Martin, hen educational philosophy that tries to ignore gender in the name of equality is self-defeating."(n72) From this point of view, gender-blindness makes the real problems invisible.


Underneath the surface of most of the various approaches to social diversity in education lie two contrasting points of view. One assumes a basic similarity among individuals regardless of group affiliation--this has sometimes been labeled "universalist" (a variant of this approach holds that people may be initially quite different but are capable of becoming the same if properly instructed). The other stresses basic differences between groups and could be called "particularist." Each contains germs of truth but each displays serious flaws both in describing social reality and in prescribing social policy.

The idea that heterogeneous people could be made alike through the proper kind of education lay at the heart of the common school ideal of nineteenth-century reformers like Horace Mann. It shaped the crusade to assimilate American Indians to "civilized" ways. It persisted in the campaign to Americanize the children of immigrants during the Progressive Era. In the 1950s it undergirded the ideology of educators who sought to be race-blind, gender-blind, and class-blind. It inspired those in the 1960s who believed that compensatory instruction could overcome the handicaps imposed by poverty. And it underlay the faith of those integrationists who believed that blacks and whites differed chiefly in the color of their skins.

Policymakers who believed in the potential similarity of all people shared an optimistic and often generous faith--and tunnel vision. Confident in their own values, they failed to understand diverse cultures or to explain their persistence. Assimilation was only partial at best: Indians remained Indians, ethnic loyalties and cultures did not disappear, race continued to divide society, and the poor remained at a severe disadvantage. Fortunately, diversity did not--could not--disappear at the wave of a pedagogical wand. Instead, cultures of all Americans have evolved through reciprocal relationships.

The universalist ideal was rooted in another conviction that has long been a key article of faith among educators: that assimilated and autonomous individuals were the ideal products of public schools. By proper instruction they would be prepared to participate, one by one, in a "great society" in which they would be free to compete and contribute according to their individual talents. As educators differentiated schooling to fit the supposed abilities and destinies of these individuals, however, the actual character of opportunities in schools came to resemble the unequal distribution of life chances in the larger society: skewed by race, ethnicity, class, and gender.(n73)

Particularists--who believed that groups were basically different--varied in their ideologies and social location. Some used concepts of difference to subordinate other people, while others used group identity as an instrument of liberation from subordination. For example, under the southern caste system, whites defined African-Americans as a distinct and inferior group, and hence segregated them by law. Blacks resisted such degradation and forced segregation, but even when given the opportunity to attend schools with whites, many African-Americans argued that they needed separate schools. With blacks in charge, their children could escape white racists, could learn their own heritage, gain a sense of racial pride, and mobilize to achieve political and economic goals. In similar fashion, some feminists have argued that separate schools are preferable for girls since coeducational schools are male-dominated and do not validate women's distinct values and experience.

While most people who have talked about "intercultural education" or "pluralism" have envisaged a gradual process of assimilation of immigrants, softened by celebration of differences, some theorists of pluralism have resisted assimilation to Anglo-American culture, sought to preserve group traditions and to build institutions to serve the needs of ethnic groups. They were sure that the power of the state should not be used to eradicate ethnicity, but they were ambiguous about whether the state should protect ethnic boundaries. As Michael Walzer observes, "their arguments rarely advanced much beyond glowing description and polemical assertion."(n74)

Some particularists have argued that the origins of group differences are genetic, some have attributed them to culture, but in common they have argued that education should preserve these differences an maintain the boundaries between groups. For them, Higham observes, "the persistence and vitality of the group comes first. Individuals can realize themselves, and become whole, only through the group that nourishes their being."(n75) A frequent corollary of this approach is that only members of a group can truly understand its experience and represent its interests.

If universalists have overestimated the ease and the costs of assimilating all to a common pattern and underestimated the unequal power relationships between groups, particularists have exaggerated the fixity of group boundaries and underestimated the considerable overlap of values and experience of Americans of different backgrounds. They also may forget that individuals have multiple identities that shift in salience according to social context (as in the case, for example, of a feminist who is also a Latina). In addition, there is great variety within groups; class and gender differences, for example, cut across ethnic and racial lines. Members of groups may unite in resisting derogatory stereotypes and discrimination imposed on them by others, but within the group they have often debated about the policies that should inform the education of their children. For example, traditional and feminist women fundamentally disagree about the proper schooling of girls; Mexican-Americans generally want their children to learn English but may not be of one mind about the importance of maintaining their language and culture; and blacks argue about what priority to give to desegregation.(n76)

Neither the universalist nor the particularist ideology captures the way social diversity actually operates in American society and public education. As Bender insists, the public culture is the product of continuously changing relationships between social groups that mutually influence one another.(n77) That changing public culture, in turn, alters the ebb and flow of discourse about how schools should respond to social diversity--that is, it can shape educational reform (though sometimes school practice bears little relation to policy talk). Neither the universalist nor the particularist approach recognizes the interactive quality of cultural exchange, and accordingly both produce one-sided slogans.

If neither the assimilationist nor the particularist viewpoint accurately captures social reality, and neither is adequate as a normative guide in educational policy, what might be a better approach to social diversity? Higham suggests "a system of pluralistic integration" that would seek neither to erode nor to maintain ethnic boundaries. "It will uphold the validity of a common culture, to which all individuals have access, while sustaining the efforts of minorities to preserve and enhance their own integrity." Higham distinguishes between "boundaries and nuclei": "No ethnic group under these terms can have the support of the general community in strengthening its boundaries. All boundaries are understood to be permeable. Ethnic nuclei, on the other hand, are respected as enduring centers of social action." This preserves the ideal of a society without discriminatory boundaries or coerced group membership, one in which members of different groups have open access to opportunities. It denies that one must be defined by one's ancestors, but it also recognizes the fact and value of social diversity.(n78)

All this is of course easier said than done in a nation in which social and economic groups are quite unequal in power and prestige and in which racism is still rampant. Those inequalities are often reproduced in schools, but schools can also become, as Dewey said, a microcosm of a just future society. Mere celebration of difference--making people feel better about themselves and less judgemental about others--evades the crucial issue of power. Dewey showed how schools might create an experience of democracy that would teach the young a process for shaping a common civic culture. In a socially diverse society, this pluralistic public culture needs constantly to be renegotiated.(n79)

Students need to learn to criticize and erode the cultural constructions of difference that stratify people into unequal groups. To do this they need a rich understanding of what it means to be the other, a sense not only of the pleasures of knowing another's life but also of the pain of discrimination. This kind of education requires a moral courage and depth of intellectual probling that is too rarely found today. Public education falls far short if it takes a monocultural or timidly "pluralistic" approach to preparing students for the multicultural society of the twenty-first century.

For helpful critiques of this essay I thank Lucy Bernholz, Larry Cuban, Ruben Donato, Elizabeth Hansot, Carl Kaestle, Ellen Condliiffe Lagemann, Pia Moriarty, Daniel Perlstein, Dorothy Shipps, Morton Sosna, and Sandy Stein. For support of a larger project on reform of which this forms a part, my gratitude to the Spenser Foundation, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Stanford Center for the Study of Families, Children & Youth.


(n1) Lawrence A. Cremin, Popular Education and Its Discontents (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), pp. 85-125; Paul Gray, "Whose America?" Time, July 8, 1991, pp. 13-17; Karen DeWitt, "Rise Is Forecast in Minorities in the Schools," New York Times, September 13, 1991, p. A8; Jane Gross, "A City's Determination to Rewrite History Puts Its Classrooms in Chaos," New York Times, September 18, 1991, p. B7 (on Oakland, California--see also Gary Yee, "Values in Conflict" [unpublished study of ethnic conflict over curriculum, Stanford University, June 10, 1991]); and Eleanor Armour-Thomas and William A. Proefriedt, "Cultural Interdependence and 'Learner-Centrism,' " Education Week, December 4, 1991, pp. 36, 27.

(n2) On constitutional issues, see David L. Kirp and Mark G. Yudof, Educational Policy and the Law: Cases and Materials (Berkeley: McCutchan, 1974); we borrow the metaphor of the overexposed photograph, used in another context, from Paula Fass, Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 14; John Higham, "Integration vs. Pluralism: Another American Dilemma," Center Magazine 7 (August 1 974): 67-73; on obfuscations in dealing with class, see Benjamin DeMott, The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can't Think Straight about Class (New York: William Morrow, 1990); and Richard Robinson, "Class Formation, Politics, and Institutions: Schooling in the United States," American Journal of Sociology 92 (November 1986): 519-48.

(n3) Fass, Outside In, p. 3.

(n4) Higham, "Integration vs. Pluralism," pp. 68, 71.

(n5) Michael B. Katz, The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare (New York: Pantheon Books, 1989), pp. 5-6.

(n6) Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge (New York: Basic Books, 1983), pp. 80-84; and Tessie Liu, "Teaching the Differences among Women from a Historical Perspective: Rethinking Race and Gender as Social Categories," Women Studies International Forum 14 (1990): 265-76.

(n7) Horace Mann Bond, "Main Currents in the Educational Crisis Affecting Afro-Americans," Freedomways 8 (Fall 1968): 308.

(n8) On the Nazi incident--which upset some whites who normally took caste for granted- see Morton Sosna, "Stalag Dixie," Stanford Humanities Review 2 (n.d.): 38-64; and Barbara Jeanne Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America,. New Left Review 181 (May-Jun 1990): 95-119.

(n9) Renato Rosaldo, "Assimilation Revisited,. in In Times of Challenge: Chicanos and Chicanas in American Society, Mexican American Studies Monograph Series No. 6 (Houston, Tex.: University of Houston, 1988), pp. 43-49 Joel Perlmann, Ethnic Difference (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Gary Gerstle, Working-Class Americanism: The Politics of Labor in a Textile City, 1914-1960 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and John Bodnar, The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban American (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985).

(n10) Minow quoted in Katz, The Undeserving Poor, p. 167.

(n11) Renato Rosaldo, "Others of Invention: Ethnicity and Its Discontents," Village Voice Literary Supplement, February 1990, pp. 27- 29.

(n12) Thomas Bender, "Public Culture: Inclusion and Synthesis in American History," in Historical Literacy: The Case for History in American Education, ed. Paul Gagnon (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), pp. 201, 188-202.

(n13) Gerstle, Working-Class Americanism; Bodnar, The Transplanted; Nicholas V. Montalto, A History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, 1924-1941 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982); and Stephen F. Brumberg, Going to America, Going to School: The Jewish Immigrant Public School Encounter in Turn-of-the Century New York City (New York: Praeger, 1986).

(n14) David Tyack, "Pilgrim's Progress: Toward a Social History of the School Superintendency," History of Education Quarterly 16 (1976): 295- 300; Fass, Outside In; Paul Peterson, The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985); and James D. Anderson, The Education of Black in the South, 1860-1935 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988).

(n15) Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society (New York: Hill & Wang, 1983); and Ira Katznelson and Margaret Weir, Schooling for All: Class, Race, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (New York: Basic Books, 1985).

(n16) David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot, Managers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America, 1820-1890 (New York: Basic Books, 1982).

(n17) See Geraldine Joncich Clifford, The Sane Positivists: A Biography of Edward T. Thorndike (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1968); Robert L. Church, "Educational Psychology and Social Reform in the Progressive Era," History of Education Quarterly 11 (Winter 1971): 390-405; and Clarence J. Karier, Paul Violas, end Joel Spring, Roots of Crisis: American Education in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1973).

(n18) Michael R. Olneck, "The Recurring Dream: Symbolism and Ideology in Intercultural and Multicultural Education," American Journal of Education 99 (February 1990): 147-74.

(n19) Quoted in Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origin (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), pp. 100-01.

(n20) NEA Addresses and Proceedings, 1891, pp. 395, 398, 393-403.

(n21) George T. Balch, Methods of Teaching Patriotism in the Public Schools (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1890); John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism (New York: Athenaeum, 1966); and Oscar Handlin, Race and Nationality in American Life (Boston: Little Brown, 1957).

(n22) U.S. Immigration Commission, Children of Immigrants in Schools (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1911), I, 14-15; and David Tyack and Michael Berkowitz, "The Man Nobody Liked: Toward a Social History of the Truant Officer, 1840-1940," American Quarterly 26 (Spring 1977): 321-54.

(n23) Ellwood P. Cubberley, Changing Conceptions of Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909), pp. 63-64.

(n24) Adele Marie Shaw, "The True Character of New York Public Schools," World's Work 7 (December 1903): 4204-21.

(n25) Michael R. Olneck, "Americanization and the Education of Immigrants, 1900-1925: An Analysis of Symbolic Action," American Journal of Education 98 (August 1989): 398, 398-423.

(n26) Helen M. Todd, "Why Children Work: The Children's Answer," McClure's Magazine 40 (April 1913): 68-79; William H. Dooley, The Education of the Ne'er-Do-Well (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1916); Edward G. Hartmann, The Movement to Americanize the Immigrant (New York: Columbia University Press, 1948); Robert A. Carlson, The Americanization Syndrome: A Quest for Conformity (London: Croom Helm, 1987); Leonard Covello, "A High School and Its Immigrant Community--A Challenge and an Opportunity," Journal of Educational Sociology 9 (February 1936): 331- 46; and Peter Roberts, The Problem of Americanization (New York: Macmillan, 1920).

(n27) John F. McClymer, "The Americanization Movement and the Education of the Foreign-Born Adult, 1914-25," in American Education and the European Immigrant: 1840-1940, ed. Bernard J. Weiss (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), pp. 97, 96-116.

(n28) John Dewey, "Nationalizing Education," NEA Addresses and Proceedings, 1916, pp. 185, 183-89.

(n29) Jesse K. Flanders, Legislative Control of the Elementary Curriculum (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1925), p. 62; and David Tyack, Thomas James, and Aaron Benavot, Law and the Shaping of Public Education, 1785-1954 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), chaps. 6-7.

(n30) Stephan F. Brumberg, "New York City Schools March Off to War: The Nature and Extent of Participation of the City Schools in the Great War, April 1917-June 1918," Urban Education 24 (January 1990): 440-75; and McClymer, "Americanization."

(n31) Horace M. Kallen, Culture and Democracy in the United States: Studies in the Group Psychology of the American Peoples (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924), pp. 139, 122, 124, 121-24; for a critique of Kallen's proposals, including his racist attitudes toward African- Americans, see Werner Sollors, "A Critique of Pure Pluralism," in Reconstructing American Literacy History, ed. Sacvan Berkovitch (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), pp. 250-79.

(n32) Todd, "Why Children Work"; Bodnar, Transplanted; Timothy L. Smith, "Immigrant Social Aspirations and American Education, 1880 1930," American Quarterly 21 (Fall 1969): 523-43; David K. Cohen, "Immigrants and the Schools," Review of Educational Research 70 (February 1970): 13- 26; and Weiss, ea., Immigrant.

(n33) Nicholas V. Montalto, "The Intercultural Education Movement, 1924- 41: The Growth th of Tolerance as a Form of Intolerance'" in Immigrant, ed. Weiss, pp. 144, 142-60; and John Daniels, America via the Neighborhood (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1920).

(n34) Albert Shiels, "Education for Citizenship," NEA Addresses and Proceedings, 1922, pp. 93440; Marcus E. Ravage, "The Immigrant's Burden," The New Republic 19 (June 1919): 209-1 1; Daniel E. Weinberg, "The Ethnic Technician and the Foreign-Born: Another Look at Americanization Ideology and Goals," Societas 7 (Summer 1977): 209-227; William C. Smith, Americans in the Making (New York: D. Appleton- Century, 1939); Donald D. Cohen, Children of the Mill: Schooling and Society in Gary, Indiana, 1906-1960 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990); and Montalto, History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, chaps. 1-2.

(n35) Department of Supervisors and Directors of Instruction, NEA, Americans All Studies is Intercultural Education (Washington, D.C.: NEA, 1942).

(n36) Rachel Davis DuBois, "Our Enemy--The Stereotype," Progressive Education 12 (March 1935): 146-50.

(n37) Louis Adamic, "Thirty Million New Americans," Harpers Monthly Magazine 169 (November 1934): 684-94; and Park quoted in Montalto, History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, p. 22.

(n38) Montalto, History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, p.147.

(n39) Superintendents quoted in Montalto, History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, p. 249; for a critique of the shallowness and patchy character of some "intergroup" curricula, see Theodore Brameld, "Intergroup Education in Certain School Systems," Harvard Educational Review 15 (March 1945): 93-98; and Ronald K. Goodenough, "The Progressive Educator, Race and Ethnicity in the Depression Years: An Overview," History of Education Quarterly 15 (Winter 1975): 365-94.

(n40) Olneck, "The Recurring Dream," pp. 147, 147-74.

(n41) Carol D. Lee, Kofi Lomotey, and Mwalimu Shujaa, "How Shall We Sing our Sacred Song in a Strange Land? The Dilemma or Double Consciousness and the Complexities of an African-centered Pedagogy," Journal of Education 172 (1990): 45-61; Christine E. Sleeter and Carl A. Grant, "An Analysis of Multicultural Education in the United States," Harvard Educational Review 57 (November 1987): 421-44; and James Banks, Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1991); for a study of type of multicultural education in Australia, see Fazal Rizvi, Ethnicity, Class and Multicultural Education (Deakin, Victoria: Deakin University Press, 1986).

(n42) Joyce Elaine King and Gloria Ladson-Billings, "Dysconscious Racism and Multicultural Illiteracy: The Distorting of the American Mind" (Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, April 16-20, 1991, Boston); Sylvia Gross, "Classrooms in Chaos," New York Times, September 18, 1991, p. B7; Laurie Olsen, Crossing the Schoolhouse Border: Immigrant Students and the California Public Schools (San Francisco: California Tomorrow, 1988); David L. Kirp, "Textbooks and Tribalism in California," The Public Interest 104 (Summer 1991): 20-36; and Diane Ravitch, "Diversity and Democracy: Multicultural Education in America," American Educator 14 (Spring 1990): 16-20, 46-48.

(n43) Anderson, Education of Blacks; W. E. B. DuBois, The Negro Common School (Atlanta: Atlanta University Press, 1901); and Louis R. Harlan, Separate and Unequal: Public Schools and Racism in the Southern Seaboard States (New York: Atheneum, 1968).

(n44) Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (New York: Penguin Books, 1989); Thomas James, Exiles Within: The Schooling of Japanese Americans, 1942-1945 (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1987); and Elliott Grinnell Mears, Resident Orientals on the Pacific Coast: Their Legal and Economic Status (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1928).

(n45) Meyer Weinberg, A Chance to Learn: A History of Race and Education in the United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), pp. 165-66; Guadalupe San Miguel, `Let Them All Take Heed': Mexican Americans and the Campaign for Educational Equality in Texas, 19101981 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987); and Albert Camarillo, Chicanos in a Changing Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984).

(n46) Quoted in Weinberg, Chance to Learn, p. 146.

(n47) Fields, "Race"; Horace Mann Bond, The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (New York: Octagon Books, 1966; reprint of 1934 edition); Richard Wright, 12,000, 000 Black Voices (New York: Viking, 1941); and George M. Frederickson, The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1988).

(n48) Rolland Dewing, "Teacher Organizations and Desegregation," Phi Delta Kappan 49 (January 1968): 257-60.

(n49) Bond, Education of Negro, chaps. 15-16; Doxey A. Wilkerson, "A Determination of the Peculiar Problems of Negroes in Contemporary American Society," Journal of Negro Education 5 July 1936): 324-50; Elwood Patterson Cubberley, "Stanford Library Classification Scheme for Education, 370, 2nd rev., 1939," Cubberley Library, Stanford University. W. E. B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro (Philadelphia: University Press, 1899); and William L. Buckley, "The Industrial Condition of the Negro in New York city," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 27 (May 1906): 590-96; for a study of the persistence of black faith in schooling, however, see Timothy Smith, "Native Blacks and Foreign Whites: Varying Responses to Educational Opportunity in America, 1890-1950," Perspectives in American History 6 (1972): 309-35.

(n50) Goodenough, "Progressive Educator"; and Fass, Outside In, chap. 4.

 (n51) W. E. B. DuBois, "Pechstein and Pecksniff," The Crisis 36 (September 1929): 313-14; and idem, "Does the Negro Need Separate Schools?" Journal of Negro Education 4 (July 1935): 328-35.

(n52) Horace Mann Bond, The Education of the Negro in the American Social Order (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1934; reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1966), preface.

(n53) Fass, Outside In, p. 127.

(n54) David Tyack, Robert Lowe, and Elisabeth Hansot, Public Schools in Hard Times: The Great Depression and Recent Years (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), pp. 122, 125, 126, 182, 196.

(n55) Fass, Outside In, pp. 140-41.

(n56) W. E. B. DuBois, "Two Hundred Years of Segregated Schools," in W.E.B. Dubois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, 1920-1963, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), p. 238. See also Weinberg, Chance to Learn, chap. 3; and Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality (New York: Vintage Books, 1977).

(n57) J. Harvie Wilkerson III, From Brown to Bakke: The Supreme Court and School Integration, 1951-1978 (New York: Random House, 1979).

(n58) Weinberg, Chance to Learn, pp. 122-24, 131; Dorothy Jones, "The Issues at I.S. 201: A View from the Parents' Committee," in Integrated Education: A Reader, ed. Meyer Weinberg (Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press, 1968), pp. 155-57; and Robert C. Maynard, "Black Nationalism and Community Schools," in Community Control of Schools, ed. Henry Levin (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1970), pp. 100-01.

(n59) Robert Newby and David Tyack, "Victims without 'Crimea': Some Historical Perspectives on Black Education," Journal of Negro Education 40 (Summer 1971): 192-206.

(n60) DuBois, "Two Hundred Years of Segregated Schools," p. 238.

(n61) A. Wade Boykin, "The Triple Quandary and the Schooling of Afro-American Children," end John U. Ogbu, "Variability in Minority Responses to Schooling: Nonimmigrants v. Immigrants," both in The School Achievement of Minority Children, ed. Ulric Neisser (Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986), pp. 57-92, 255-78; Joyce Elaine King and Thomasyne Wilson, "Being the Soul-Freeing Substance: A Legacy of Hope in Afro Humanity," Journal of Education 172 (1990): 9-27; and Molefi Kete Asante, "The Afrocentric Idea in Education," Journal of Negro Education 60 (Spring 1991): 170-80.

(n62) Nancy Frazier and Myra Sadker, Sexism in School and Society (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), p. 2; many women active in civil rights protested what they saw as discrimination against females in the movement -- hence my use of the word "goad."

(n63) William Chafe, Women and Equality: Changing Patterns in American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), chap. 3; E. R. and Clairese Bocher Feagin, Discrimination American Style: Institutional Racism and Sexism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1978); and David Tyack and Elisabeth Hansot, Learning Together: A History of Coeducation in American Schools (New Haven: Yale University Press and The Russell Sage Foundation, 1990), chaps. 2-3.

(n64) Horace Mann, A Few Thoughts on the Powers and Duties of Women (Syracuse: Hall, Mills, 1853), p. 57; and Tyack and Hansot, Learning Together, chaps. 2-3.

(n65) Ibid., passim.

(n66) For analysis of conservative opposition by both sexes to the feminist agenda, see Theresa Cusick, A Clash of Ideologies: The Reagan Administration Versus the Women's Educational Equity Act (Washington, D.C.: PEER, 1983).

(n67) William D. Lewis, "The High School and the Boy," The Saturday Evening Post 184 (April 6, 1912): 8-9, 77-78; and Thomas Woody, A History of Women's Education in the United States 2 vols. (New York: Science Press, 1929).

(n68) Emma Willard, A Plan for Improving Female Education (reprint of 1819 edition; Middle-bury, Vermont: Middlebury College, 1919); and Edward D. Mansfield, American Education: Its Principles and Elements, Dedicated to the Teachers of the United States (New York: A. S. Barnes, 1851), chap. 14.

(n69) Leta S. Hollingsworth, "Comparison of the Sexes in Mental Traits," The Psychological Bulletin 15 (1918): 428; and Rosalind Rosenberg, Beyond Separate Spheres: Intellectual Roots of Modern Feminism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982).

(n70) Feagin and Feagin, Discrimination American Style, chaps. 1-2, 5. See also Janice Pottker and Andrew Fishel, eds., Sex Bias in the Schools: The Research Evidence (Rutherford, NJ.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1977); and Susan S. Klein, ea., Handbook for Achieving Sex Equity through Education (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1985).

(n71) Margaret B. Sutherland, "Whatever Happened to Coeducation?" British Journal of Educational Studies 33 (1986): 156-57; Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982); and Madeline Arnot, "A Cloud over Coeducation: An Analysis of the Forms of Transmission of Class and Gender Relations," in Gender, Class & Education, ed. Stephen Walker and Len Barton (New York: Falmer Press, 1983), pp. 69-92.

(n72) Jane Roland Martin, Reclaiming a Conversation: The Ideal of the Educated Woman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 195.

(n73) Y. Arieli, "Individualism and National Consciousness in the United States," Scripla Hierosolymitana 7 (1961): 296-337.

(n74) Michael Walzer, "Pluralism: A Political Perspective," in Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thernstrom, Ann Orlov, and Oscar Handlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 784, 781-87.

(n75) Higham, "Dilemma," p. 68.

(n76) Sollars, "Pluralism," p. 156-58, notes that ethnic groups are neither static nor homogeneous; Renato Rosaldo, "Assimilation," notes that it was not necessary to be culturally assimilated to get ahead economically; Tyack and Hansot, Learning Together, chap. 9, conclusion.

(n77) Bender, "Public Culture."

(n78) Higham, "Integration vs. Pluralism," p. 72.

(n79) John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Macmillan, 1916).

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 95 Number 1, 1993, p. 8-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 83, Date Accessed: 11/29/2021 3:55:03 PM

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