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Educational Access and the State: Historical Continuities and Discontinuities in Racial Inequality in American Education

Pamela Barnhouse Walters
Sociology of Education
Vol. 74, Extra Issue: Current of Thought: Sociology of Education at the Dawn of the 21st Century (2001), pp. 35-49
DOI: 10.2307/2673252
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2673252
Page Count: 15
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Educational Access and the State: Historical Continuities and Discontinuities in Racial Inequality in American Education
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Abstract

From the establishment of common schools in the early 19th century to the present, racial inequality in educational funding and other forms of educational opportunity were explicit policies of the state throughout the country, not just in the South, although the specific policies that produced racial inequality varied between the South and the rest of the country. The reliance on local taxes as a primary source of school funding and the sanctity of local school-district boundaries, linked to state efforts to establish or, at least, permit social inequality in education (direct racial inequality in the South, between-community inequality outside the South), became the main institutional obstacle to reducing or eliminating racial inequality in education once explicit and direct state policy shifted in the direction of greater racial equality. State policies have provided opportunities for threatened elites (in this case, whites) to activate their private resources to evade the intent of state educational policies that are conditioned in often-unexpected ways by the legacies of earlier state policies.

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