This project explores the inequalities between selected suburban and city schools in Chicago, Illinois, while focusing on the race and economic status of students who attended them. Much of the literature suggests students of color, especially those from low-income families, fail to succeed in public school. However, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado’s Critical Race Theory, specifically intersectionality and white privilege, Pierre Bourdieu’s Cultural Reproduction Theory, and John Ogbu’s Opposition Theory explain how institutional systems of advancement and oppression provide economic, social, and cultural capital, which influences success in school. This Independent Study involved thirteen interviews with College of Wooster students from the Chicago area. Six prevalent themes emerged from the data: demographic ties to school choice, parental levels of education and values, racially segregated neighborhoods, white privilege, high school success rates, and school resources and tracking. The findings suggest three main issues: 1) the history of residential segregation remains in many sectors of the education system, lowering the quality of schools; 2) schools are built for the advancement of white and upper-class students; and 3) the more forms of capital a student possesses equates to the likelihood he or she will succeed in school. There were unexplained exceptions to these findings, however, since, half of my informants were influenced by negative labels associated with race and class in regards to academic success, but overcame those challenges.


Wright, Josephine

Second Advisor

McConnell, David


Africana Studies; Sociology and Anthropology


Education | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 MacKenzie Rae Love