Those Kids, Our Schools

Those Kids, Our Schools Race and Reform in an American High School

Shayla Reese Griffin, Foreword by William Jelani Cobb
paper, 320 Pages
Pub. Date: May 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-766-8
Price: $34.00

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Pub. Date: May 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-768-2

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In Those Kids, Our Schools, Shayla Reese Griffin examines patterns of racial interaction in a large, integrated high school and makes a powerful case for the frank conversations that educators could and should be having about race in schools.
Over three years, Griffin observed students, teachers, and administrators in a “post-racial” exurban high school in the Midwest. In its hallways, classrooms, lunchrooms, and staff meetings, she uncovered the disturbing ways in which racial tensions and prejudices persist and are reinforced. Students engaged in patterns of behavior that underscored racial hierarchies. Teachers—no matter how intellectually committed to equity and diversity—often lacked the skills, resources, or authority to address racial issues, while administrators failed to acknowledge racial tensions or recognize how school practices and policies perpetuated racial inequality.
This astute and thoughtful book offers a revealing glimpse into the world of young people struggling with the legacy of racism. More important, it highlights the disservice being done to all students in our schools when educators fail to critically interrogate issues of race. Griffin’s perceptive analysis illuminates the persistent influence of race in our education system and shows how—with appropriate support—teachers and students can develop the capacity to address racial issues and dynamics in schools in a frank and constructive way.


Shayla Griffin has written an acutely insightful text on the ways race shapes the lived experiences of all young people. Through her careful ethnography of social spaces in a diverse high school, she meticulously peels back the layers of racial denialism and silence to show why what is left unsaid or unacknowledged about race is harmful. This book should be read by anyone wishing to understand if race still matters in the lives of young people and provides grounded advice on what can be done to improve our schools for all our kids. — R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, associate professor, sociology and black studies, The City College of New York

The text provides useful suggestions for 'making change in schools,' and ... [offers] questions that could initiate true dialogue in staff development situations. — A.W. Peterson, Choice Magazine

Those Kids, Our Schools possesses deep relevance for students, teachers, administrators, and educational researchers across the United States. Griffin’s analysis regarding achievement and discipline gaps should inform and influence discussions about how schools should deal with racial inequality. — Perspectives on Urban Education

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About the Author

Shayla R. Griffin received her PhD and MSW from the joint program in Social Work and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan– Ann Arbor and her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work focuses on issues of race and class in K–12 schools.

Griffin has extensive experience in dialogue facilitation, diversity training, and social justice education. She has worked with high school students, college students, and hundreds of K–12 teachers around issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. In addition, she consults with a number of nonprofit organizations on issues of social justice.

Griffin has taught courses on race, social justice, and diversity at the University of Michigan for the Program on Intergroup Relations, the School of Social Work, and the Department of Anthropology. She has been the recipient of a number of research grants, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Andrew W. Woodrow Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Humanities. From 2012–2014, she was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context at the University of Michigan. Currently, she is the Diversity and School Culture Consultant for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (Michigan) and director of Creating Culturally Proficient Communities, a five-year initiative to improve racial and economic justice in Ypsilanti Community Schools (Michigan). She resides in Detroit.

Table of Contents

Foreword by William Jelani Cobb

Blog Post: "Why We Still Struggle to Integrate Our Schools"

E-book available through online booksellers

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