The Walls Around Opportunity

This week's review explores ways to reform higher education to increase opportunities for students of color and combat oppressive color-blind policies in the US.

The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education, Our Compelling Interests, 4

Orfield, Gary. Princeton, 2022
384p bibl index, 9780691227412 $29.95, 9780691236827

The Walls Around Opportunity: The Failure of Colorblind Policy for Higher Education book cover. Cream background with blue and black text.

Over the last few decades, a college degree has increasingly become a critical means for people to gain economic and social independence in the US. Orfield (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) provides compelling evidence that the educational policy implementation practices begun by former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration, which were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and presented much promise for people of color, were effectively undercut by the color-blind methodologies introduced by President Ronald Reagan and perpetuated by subsequent presidents. He further illustrates how color-blind policies have reinforced and perpetuated the systemic barriers that the Civil Rights Movement sought to abolish, resulting in diminished collegiate opportunities for students of color, especially for Black, Latino, and Native American students. Orfield argues that the current bleak conditions can be overcome through bold action and offers a toolkit of strategies that politicians, academic leaders, and other policy makers should consider in their efforts to reform education in the US and restore meaningful opportunities for these disadvantaged groups. Though a theoretical treatise, this book’s rhetoric is presented in language accessible to most readers.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
Reviewer: K. L. Carriveau Jr., Baylor University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies, Racial Justice
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Education
Choice Issue: Feb 2023

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