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Interests and Opportunities

Interests and Opportunities: Race, Racism, and University Writing Instruction in the Post–Civil Rights Era

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    Interests and Opportunities
    Book Description:

    In the late 1960s, colleges and universities became deeply embroiled in issues of racial equality. To combat this, hundreds of new programs were introduced to address the needs of "high-risk" minority and low-income students. In the years since, university policies have flip-flopped between calls to address minority needs and arguments to maintain "Standard English." Today, anti-affirmative action and anti-access sentiments have put many of these high-risk programs at risk.InInterests and Opportunities,Steve Lamos chronicles debates over high-risk writing programs on the national level, and locally, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Using critical race theorist Derrick Bell's concept of "interest convergence," Lamos shows that these programs were promoted or derailed according to how and when they fit the interests of underrepresented minorities and mainstream whites (administrators and academics). He relates struggles over curriculum, pedagogy, and budget, and views their impact on policy changes and course offerings.Lamos finds that during periods of convergence, disciplinary and institutional changes do occur, albeit to suit mainstream standards. In divergent times, changes are thwarted or undone, often using the same standards. To Lamos, understanding the past dynamics of convergence and divergence is key to formulating new strategies of local action and "story-changing" that can preserve and expand race-consciousness and high-risk writing instruction, even in adverse political climates.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7740-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 The Development and Evolution of High-Risk Writing Instruction
    (pp. 1-20)

    The 1960s found U.S. mainstream colleges and universities presiding over an overwhelmingly white student body. Studies from the time period reveal that mainstream four-year institutions had an African American population of roughly² percent (Egerton,State Universities6) and a combined population of

    “other” races and ethnicities (i.e., Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans) that was even smaller (Karen 229–30 ). As the 1960 s progressed, however, activists involved in the Civil Rights Movement increasingly demanded through demonstrations, rallies, and protests that predominantly white campuses be desegregated. Ethnic studies scholars Thomas J. LaBelle and Christopher R. Ward recount that “charges...

  2. 2 The Late 1960s and Early 1970s: COMING TO TERMS WITH RACIAL CRISIS
    (pp. 21-55)

    The decade of the 1960s found the Civil Rights Movement turning in an increasingly urgent and confrontational direction. Sociologists and CUNY Open Admissions researchers David E. Lavin and David Hyllegard have argued that this period witnessed “increasing militancy [within] the civil rights movement. Across the country, civil disobedience, strident demonstrations, and riots had riveted national attention on various issues of racial inequality. A developing sense of urgency about equal opportunity was expressed in the enactment of such ‘great society’ programs as Head Start and the ‘war on poverty’” (8 ).¹ Accompanying this larger shift in the intensity and tactics of...

    (pp. 56-85)

    The mid-1970s found many in the United States increasingly worried that societal troubles—the war in Vietnam, the pending energy crisis, the Watergate scandal, and other woes—were threatening the status of the country as the “hegemonic power of the West” (Genovese 61) and leaving it in a “weaker, less-independent position than at any time in the previous twenty-five years” (61). This era also found many mainstream whites increasingly convinced that these troubles were caused by an overemphasis on issues of race and racism within the Civil Rights Movement and other race-conscious reform efforts of the late 1960s and early...

  4. 4 The Late 1970s and Early 1980s: COMPETENCE CONCERNS IN THE AGE OF BAKKE
    (pp. 86-116)

    One of the most pressing issues facing U.S. higher education during the late 1970s and early 1980s was that of student “competence”—that is, how best to define and measure what it meant for a student to have achieved (or failed to achieve) a certain level of educational attainment or proficiency. Of the many contexts in which issues of competence were being debated at this time, the most famous was the 1978 Supreme Court caseUniversity of California Regents v. Bakke. Bakkecentered on the claim of a white medical school applicant, Allan Bakke, who argued that he had been...

  5. 5 The Late 1980s and Early 1990s: CULTURE WARS AND THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY
    (pp. 117-150)

    Predominantly white mainstream four-year colleges and universities in the United States found themselves grappling with yet another host of important issues related to racial and cultural diversity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. These institutions were encountering widespread demands that they prepare students more effectively for the challenges presented by an increasingly diverse and global populace—a future in which “ethnic minority persons will numerically dominate in U.S. society and U.S. higher education” (Cheatham 17) and in which “the workforce and workplace, whether office, factory, or school, will be more diverse” (LaBelle and Ward 59). They were also


  6. 6 The Late 1990s to the Present: THE END OF AN ERA?
    (pp. 151-178)

    From the late 1990s through the present day, mainstream four-year colleges and universities in the United States have been forced to respond to a powerful pressure to pursue institutional “excellence.” Greene and McAlexander characterize this pressure as prompting four-year institutions to begin “raising admissions standards, downsizing or eliminating remedial programs, and placing more emphasis upon research—all while paying close attention to . . . rankings in the media” (15).¹ They further assert that this pressure has created a contemporary context in which institutions are restratifying in ways that more clearly differentiate responsibilities between four-year and two-year institutions: “Postsecondary institutions...