In this study of the school system of an Indiana town, Ellen Brantlinger studies educational expectations within segments of the middle class that have fairly high levels of attainment. Building on her findings, she examines the relationship between class structure and educational success. This book asserts the need to look beyond poor peoples' values and aspirations--and rather to consider the values of dominant groups--to explain class stratification and educational outcomes.
"Dividing Classes forces us to confront perhaps the most troubling and least studied challenge to equitable schooling: Middle-class Americans' presumption that their own superiority accounts for their school success and the life chances that successful schooling brings. In her penetrating account of affluent, mostly liberal, mothers and education professionals, Brantlinger shows how powerfully the ideology of meritocracy undercuts the educational opportunities of low-income young people. Most important she illuminates how this undercutting works through the seemingly innocent, day-to-day talk and actions of middle-class Americans that consistently advantage society's already-advantaged young people." -- Jeannie Oakes, Presidential Professor of Educational Equity, UCLA
"Describes how members of the educated middle class act to secure the best of what schools have to offer for their own children and how they rationalize their actions." -- Journal of Economic Literature