A Fine Line: How Most American Kids Are Kept Out of the Best Public Schools, by Tim DeRoche
In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled that little Linda Brown couldn't be excluded from a public school because of her race. In that landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the court famously declared that public education must be available to all on equal terms. But sixty-six years later, many of the best public schools remain closed to all but the most privileged families. Empowered by little-known state laws, school districts draw attendance zones around their best schools, indicating who is, and who isn't, allowed to enroll. In many American cities, this means that living on one side of the street or the other will determine whether you leave eighth grade on a track for future success or barely able to read.
In A Fine Line, bestselling author Tim DeRoche takes a close look at the laws and policies that dictate which kids are allowed to go to which schools. And he finds surprising parallels between current education policies and the redlining practices of the New Deal era in which minority families were often denied mortgages and government housing assistance because they didn't live within certain desirable zones of the city.
It is an extraordinary story of American democracy gone wrong, and it will make you question everything you think you know about our public education system.
The public school system is supposed to be society's great equalizer. In theory, access to a public education is supposed to help the least advantaged gain the skills necessary to achieve the American Dream. In practice, as Tim DeRoche points out, the traditional public school system actually exacerbates the inequities it was meant to cure. A child's school, and their future, depends on their zip code. But it doesn't have to be that way.
--Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice, Reason Foundation
An invaluable resource for parents. A Fine Line provides a thorough analysis of zip-code laws for every state, exposing the Education Apartheid that continues 66 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. DeRoche engages parents and gives them a voice in the vacuum that is education policy. Zip-code laws continue the injustice of Jim Crow laws. This book allows readers to educate themselves on the discrimination and redlining that children in the education system experience. Every child deserves equal access to a high-quality education.
--Mona Davids, founder and president of the New York City Parents Union
Hardcover Release: May 17, 2020