Difficult Paths to Education

By Mary Simon

For many students, a formal education has not been easy to acquire. This may be because of political and equity reasons, weather-related delays or problems, gang-targeted school routes, families not valuing the importance of education, or learning challenges. This list examines the issues for those who have difficulty acquiring the education they so inherently deserve. My hope is that all of us come to appreciate and understand the priceless nature of education so many of us take for granted.

  • The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind

    2018 by Driver, Justin

    This relatively new book by a University of Chicago law professor details all the ways the Supreme Court has influenced education in America. Must reading for those interested in 21st-century education.

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  • Educated: A Memoir

    2018 by Westover, Tara

    On many "best of 2018" lists, this book provides a true-life glimpse into the background of a young woman who did not know that the world of education existed or could be intended for her. That is until circumstances changed and she qualified for one of the most prestigious formal educations imaginable. At times laughable, at times ghastly, her life story makes her educational achievements all the more poignant.

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  • A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools

    2018 by Devlin, Rachel

    Brave, black girls led the charge to make segregation possible in formerly all-white schools. It was the young women who volunteered to cross the color line, and it is their story that Devlin so richly portrays.

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  • The Lions of Little Rock

    2012 by Levine, Kristin

    Two 12-year-olds in Little Rock, AR, take on the school segregation battle in 1958. In the process, they become friends for life. This book for middle-school students provides a rich tapestry of compassion, anguish, and courage to guide and inspire today's students.

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  • Through My Eyes

    1999 by Bridges, Ruby

    What was it like to actually break the "color" barrier? This autobiography vividly portrays and answers that question. Ruby Nell Bridges Hall is an American civil rights activist. During the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960, she was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School. In addition, many people remember her also for being the subject of a 1964 painting, "The Problem We All Live With" by Norman Rockwell.

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  • I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood up for Education and Changed the World

    2014 by Yousafzai, Malala

    The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner advocates for all children, but especially girls and women, to have the right to an education. This book is a classic; it is considered by many to be "must reading" not just for educators and feminists, but for anyone who aspires to fulfill and realize their dreams.

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  • Hope against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America's Children

    2013 by Carr, Sarah

    This book looks at the New Orleans School District after Hurricane Katrina, and what it meant for a Harvard graduate who wanted to teach in a charter school and a savvy, experienced administrator. The battles and challenges, as well as the joys and successes they faced in their day-to-day experiences will make you appreciate the struggles some communities deal with on a regular basis.

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  • Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side

    2018 by Ewing, Eve L.

    Ewing examines the 2013 closing of black majority public schools on Chicago's south side. Educated at Harvard as a sociologist, her razor-sharp analysis and statistical research illustrates the long history of educational segregation that haunts that school system.

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  • This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality

    2019 by Boyce, Jo Ann Allen

    This new book for young adults describes the bigotry and hatred surrounding the 1956 Clinton (TN) High School Integration Plan. Not only is it a story about the fight for civil rights, it is also the remarkable story of the young students involved in the reform.

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