Readings

To access course readings, please sign in. If you are unable to sign in or access readings, please contact the course teaching assistant, Ken Shores, at kshores@stanford.edu.

Rena L. Repetti, Shelley E. Taylor, and Teresa E. Seeman, 2002

Risky families are characterized by conflict and aggression and by relationships that are cold, unsupportive, and neglectful. These family characteristics create vulnerabilities and/or interact with genetically based vulnerabilities in offspring that produce disruptions in psychosocial functioning (specifically emotion processing and social competence), disruptions in stress-responsive biological regulatory systems, including sympathetic-adrenomedullary and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical functioning, and poor health behaviors, especially substance abuse. This integrated biobehavioral profile leads to consequent accumulating risk for mental health disorders, major chronic diseases, and early mortality. We conclude that childhood family environments represent vital links for understanding mental and physical health across the life span.

Sean F. Reardon, Ann Owens, October 2013

Since the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, researchers and policymakers have paid close attention to trends in school segregation. Here we review the evidence regarding these trends and their consequences. In general, the evidence regarding trends in segregation suggests that the most significant declines in school segregation occurred at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s. Although there is disagreement about the direction of more recent trends in segregation, this disagreement is largely driven by different definitions of segregation and different ways of measuring it. We conclude that the changes in segregation in the last few decades are not large, regardless of what measure is used, though there are important differences in the trends across regions, racial groups, and institutional levels. In addition, we discuss the role of desegregation litigation, demographic changes, and residential segregation in shaping these trends.

One of the reasons that scholars, policymakers, and citizens are concerned with school segregation is that segregation is hypothesized to exacerbate racial or socioeconomic disparities in educational success. The mechanisms that would link segregation to disparate outcomes have not often been spelled out clearly or tested explicitly. We develop a general conceptual model of how and why school segregation might affect students and review the relatively thin body of empirical evidence that explicitly assesses the consequences of school segregation. This literature suggests that desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s was beneficial to blacks; evidence of the effects of segregation in more recent decades, however, is mixed or inconclusive. We conclude with discussion of aspects of school segregation on which further research is needed.

Prudence L. Carter, Harvard Education Review, 2009

Reflecting on the 2008 election, Prudence Carter challenges the popular notion that President Obama’s victory is symbolic of a postracial society in the United States. Citing statistics about the opportunity gap that still exists in our nation’s schools—as well as the recent Supreme Court cases that served to halt racial desegregation— Carter argues that we must continue to push for truly integrated schools, where black and Latino students are provided with the resources, high standards, and care to meet their full potential. Although she sees President Obama’s victory as a symbol of national potential, Carter calls on all of us to work toward ending the “empathy gap” that exists both in and out of our nation’s schools.

Prudence Carter, Kevin Welner (eds). Oxford University Press, 2013

While the achievement gap has dominated policy discussions over the past two decades, relatively little attention has been paid to a gap even more at odds with American ideals: the opportunity gap. Opportunity and achievement, while inextricably connected, are very different goals. Every American will not go to college, but every American should be given a fair chance to be prepared for college. In communities across the U.S., children lack the crucial resources and opportunities, inside and outside of schools that they need if they are to reach their potential.

Closing the Opportunity Gap offers accessible, research-based essays written by top experts who highlight the discrepancies that exist in our public schools, focusing on how policy decisions and life circumstances conspire to create the "opportunity gap" that leads inexorably to stark achievement gaps. They also describe sensible policies grounded in evidence that can restore and enhance opportunities. Moving beyond conventional academic discourse, Closing the Opportunity Gap will spark vital new conversations about what schools, parents, educators, and policymakers can and should do to give all children a fair chance to thrive.

Pages