The June 2017 issue of Social Service Review contains new reviews of RSF books Coming of Age in the Other America by Stefanie Deluca, Susan Clampet-Lundquist, and Kathryn Edin, and From High School to College, by Charles Hirschman.
In her review of Coming of Age in the Other America, sociologist Jeylan Mortimer (University of Minnesota) writes, “This book is an eye-opener for anyone who seeks to understand and to ameliorate the plight of our most disadvantaged young residents.” Coming of Age in the Other America explores how certain disadvantaged urban youth manage to achieve upward mobility despite overwhelming odds. Based on over a decade of original fieldwork with parents and children in Baltimore, the book illuminates the profound effects of neighborhoods on impoverished families and shows how the right public policies can help break the cycle of disadvantage.
The authors interviewed 150 young adults and found that although most expressed a desire to better their circumstances, many remained mired in poverty. The authors show that factors such as neighborhood violence and family trauma put these youth on expedited paths to adulthood, forcing them to shorten or end their schooling and find jobs much earlier than their middle-class counterparts. However, they also found that youth who had been able to move to better neighborhoods—either as part of the Moving to Opportunity program or by other means—achieved much higher rates of high school completion and college enrollment than their parents. Mortimer notes of the authors’ study, “By giving a voice to the young people, they open a window to their inner worlds.”
David W. Johnson, a senior research analyst at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, reviews Charles Hirschman’s From High School to College and reports that the book “offers a great deal to researchers, policy makers, and educators.” In his book Hirschman analyzes the period between leaving high school and completing college for nearly 10,000 public and private school students across the Pacific Northwest. He finds that although there are few gender, racial, or immigration-related disparities in students’ aspirations to attend and complete college, certain groups—including first-generation immigrants and Latino students—experience language barriers and insufficient access to college preparation resources that reduce their enrollment rates. Hirschman also explores racial disparities in college graduation rates and examines how socioeconomic origins continue to drive the graduation gap between white students and disadvantaged minority groups. Johnson concludes of the book, “These are powerful and important findings.”