Systematically shortchanged, yet carrying on: Black adolescent girls in the detroit metropolitan school reform environment

Linnea A. Evans, Linnea A. Evans, Arline T. Geronimus, Cleopatra Howard Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


School reform policies, such as the closure of low-performing schools and the competitive introduction of school choice and charters, were presented to communities of color as the fix to educational inequities and the lifeline needed for urban Black students to have a chance at a quality education and social mobility. The ways in which reforms have under-delivered on this promise, and in some cases exacerbated negative academic outcomes, particularly for Black boys, are documented. Yet, research on the experience of Black adolescent girls is sparse. We explore ways that policies aimed at delivering a school choice environment have affected daily life for Black adolescent girls. We examine this issue in the context of the Detroit metropolitan area with Black adolescent girls, reflecting on their high school education experiences that spanned a time-period of rapid transitions in the schooling environment (2014-2016) prompted by a series of school reforms in Michigan. Through in-depth interviews we found that girls sought to invest in their high school education as a path to college; yet the very reforms advanced as ways to clear this path hindered their ability to spend time on the human and social capital activities believed to be important to their academic success and social mobility. Our findings suggest advantages for those students with proximal access to high quality neighborhood schools cannot be replicated in a choice environment. There may also be health consequences of the coping strategies girls are compelled to employ to carry on under adverse educational circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-383
Number of pages27
JournalDu Bois Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Black Girlhood
  • High Effort Coping
  • School Choice
  • School Closures
  • Stress
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Systematically shortchanged, yet carrying on: Black adolescent girls in the detroit metropolitan school reform environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this