Understanding Local Political Resistance to Detracking in Racially Mixed Schools
By Amy Stuart Wells and Irene Serna
In this article, Amy Stuart Wells and Irene Serna examine the political struggles associated with detracking reform. Drawing on their three-year study of ten racially and socioeconomically mixed schools that are implementing detracking reform, the authors take us beyond the school walls to better understand the broad social forces that influence detracking reform. They focus specifically on the role of elite parents and how their political and cultural capital enables them to influence and resist efforts to dismantle or lessen tracking in their children's schools. Wells and Serna identify four strategies employed by elite parents to undermine and co-opt reform initiatives designed to alter existing tracking structures. By framing elite parents' actions within the literature on elites and cultural capital, the authors provide a deeper understanding of the barriers educators face in their efforts to detrack schools.