Cover of The Battle Nearer to Home by Christopher Bonastia
The Battle Nearer to Home
The Persistence of School Segregation in New York City
Christopher Bonastia


July 2022
328 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503628472
Paperback ISBN: 9781503631977
Ebook ISBN: 9781503631984

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Despite its image as an epicenter of progressive social policy, New York City continues to have one of the nation's most segregated school systems. Tracing the quest for integration in education from the mid-1950s to the present, The Battle Nearer to Home follows the tireless efforts by educational activists to dismantle the deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities that segregation reinforces. The fight for integration has shifted significantly over time, not least in terms of the way "integration" is conceived, from transfers of students and redrawing school attendance zones, to more recent demands of community control of segregated schools. In all cases, the Board eventually pulled the plug in the face of resistance from more powerful stakeholders, and, starting in the 1970s, integration receded as a possible solution to educational inequality. In excavating the history of New York City school integration politics, in the halls of power and on the ground, Christopher Bonastia unearths the enduring white resistance to integration and the severe costs paid by Black and Latino students. This last decade has seen activists renew the fight for integration, but the war is still far from won.

About the author

Christopher Bonastia is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Lehman College-City University of New York and Professor of Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His most recent book is Five Years without Public Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia (2012).

"Rejecting the idea that school integration is an antiquated hangover from the Civil Rights movement, Bonastia repositions racial integration as a worthy tool to achieve equality. Beyond simply 'mixing bodies,' Bonastia reimagines school integration as a commitment to a truly justand equal education for students of color."

—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of Race for Profit

"Bonastia offers new ways of thinking about school integration, and shows how 'colorblind meritocracy' legitimizes inequality. This important history will help chart a better educational future."

—Matthew Delmont, author of Why Busing Failed