Schooling the Metropolis: Educational Inequality Made and Remade, Nashville, Tennessee, 1945-2000
Ansley T. Erickson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Teachers College, Columbia University

Primary Discipline

My project traces how metropolitan and school policy furthered educational inequality even as extensive desegregation ostensibly sought to challenge it. As Nashville, Tennessee, a consolidated city-county metropolitan government and school system, achieved relative statistical success at desegregation, the district also built deep inequalities into how it desegregated. Understanding the roots of this inequality in political, economic, and spatial change highlights how schools were actively involved in the construction of metropolitan inequality. Federal, state, and local policy choices shaped and maintained inequality by privileging local economic elites and white suburban communities while neglecting black urban residents. Support from the NAE/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, will allow me to expand my treatment of one central figure – Nashville civil rights attorney Avon Williams – who exemplifies local awareness of the interrelationship between federal, state, and local policy in education, urban renewal, and real estate development. Incorporating the later decades of the 20th century brings Nashville’s transformation from a biracial to a multiracial city into the story of educational inequality, while also examining political struggles over funding education as the district’s student population shrank and became gradually more poor.
About Ansley T. Erickson

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