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Racial Opportunity Cost (2022)  

This book is the culmination of over a decade of research Venzant Chambers has conducted examining what it costs Black and Latinx students to pursue academic success given the racialized expectations that permeate their school spaces. We have not paid enough attention to racially minoritized students who have been successful in school, the challenges they face, or the strategies educators can employ to ameliorate them. Racial Opportunity Cost is grounded in individual and focus group interviews with 18 Black and Latinx students from diverse high school contexts who attended one of two highly-selective colleges. It introduces school factors, capacity factors, intersectionality factors, and racial opportunity costs as tangible concepts educators can use to understand the systemic challenges Black and Latinx students face.


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“There is hope here. I know none of us could do this work if we did not possess a fundamental optimism. I could not work with future school leaders or serve on my local school board if I did not have a deep conviction in our ability to foster meaningful change. If I have learned anything in the twenty or so years that I have worked in education, it is this: if there is any hope to cultivate a more equitable society, educators are the people to do it and schools are the place where we can get it done. Let’s get to work.”

Graduation Ceremony

Venzant Chambers weaves in real-world examples in addition to first-hand accounts from students, practitioners, and researchers – ROC Talks – who offer unique perspectives on their experiences with racial opportunity cost. Ultimately, the ROC framework can help those positioned to proactively cultivate change in their classrooms and schools better understand the ways we may unwittingly increase students’ racial opportunity cost even if we do not intend it. Meaningful change is possible when school success does not come at such a high price.

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