The School I Deserve: Six Young Refugees and Their Fight for Equality in America

Jo Napolitano. Beacon, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8070-2498-0
Journalist Napolitano debuts with a comprehensive look at a 2016 lawsuit filed by six refugee students against their Lancaster, Pa., school district for discrimination. Denied entry into the district’s main high school and placed in a “high-discipline ‘alternative’ school” run by a private company, the students, all age 17 or older, received insufficient ESL instruction and endured intimidating security measures. Napolitano details how the plaintiffs escaped the traumatic circumstances of their birth countries, including Sudan and Somalia, only to encounter a rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric as President Trump took office, and recounts courtroom testimony from school administrators, teachers, and resettlement workers that reveals the tension between the district’s focus on graduation rates and the students’ desire to learn. The federal court’s decision in favor of the students, according to Napolitano, was both a surprise, given that the judge was a “self-described conservative who abhorred government overreach,” and a triumph of “fairness, equity, and the promise of [the refugees’] newly adopted country.” Laden with compassion and detailed insights into the practices that threaten equal access to education, this is an eye-opening account of a precedent-setting case. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/01/2021
Release date: 04/20/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-8070-2499-7
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