International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

INSTITUTIONALIZED LEGACIES, LEGITIMATION, AND THE ENDURING LINK BETWEEN RACISM AND TRACKING
Stephen K. Miller, Juanita Hoover Lynes

Abstract
This paper examines enduring links between tracking and racism in the United States historically, tracing the virulent racism of the nineteenth century to Progressive Era educational reforms. After the Civil War, the South implemented Jim Crow laws, enforcing inequality based on Negro inferiority1. School reforms culminated in the industrial model of differentiated curriculum tracks and manual training; students were ranked and separated via standardized, norm-referenced tests (IQ and related). Social Darwinist beliefs (ability as purely genetic, poor and Negroes mentally deficient) justified these practices. To help explain why ability grouping and tracking remain prominent today, despite abatement of the more extreme racism and genetic views of the 1800s, the authors introduce historically-based institutionalized legacies (the counterpart of cultural lag). Implications include reforming/eliminating tracking that isolates at-risk groups from high-level curricular content, and increased awareness in teacher education regarding the legacy of racism vis-a-vis the origins/continued implicit practices of ability grouping.

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