Book Launch

Book Talk | The Privileged Poor

03/25 Monday | 6pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join for a talk on The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, out now from Harvard University Press, featuring the author Anthony Jack in conversation with Reshma Saujani and R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy.

The Ivy League looks different than it used to. College presidents and deans of admission have opened their doors—and their coffers—to support a more diverse student body. But is it enough just to admit these students? In The Privileged Poor, Anthony Jack reveals that the struggles of less privileged students continue long after they’ve arrived on campus. Admission, they quickly learn, is not the same as acceptance. This bracing and necessary book documents how university policies and cultures can exacerbate preexisting inequalities and reveals why these policies hit some students harder than others.

Despite their lofty aspirations, top colleges hedge their bets by recruiting their new diversity largely from the same old sources, admitting scores of lower-income black, Latino, and white undergraduates from elite private high schools like Exeter and Andover. These students approach campus life very differently from students who attended local, and typically troubled, public high schools and are often left to flounder on their own. Drawing on interviews with dozens of undergraduates at one of America’s most famous colleges and on his own experiences as one of the privileged poor, Jack describes the lives poor students bring with them and shows how powerfully background affects their chances of success.

If we truly want our top colleges to be engines of opportunity, university policies and campus cultures will have to change. Jack provides concrete advice to help schools reduce these hidden disadvantages—advice we cannot afford to ignore.

Anthony Abraham Jack, a native of Miami, received a scholarship to attend Gulliver Preparatory School, an elite private high school in South Florida. He went on to receive degrees from Amherst College and Harvard University. He is currently a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. His scholarship appears in the Du Bois Review, Sociological Forum, and Sociology of Education and has earned awards from the American Sociological Association, Eastern Sociological Society, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. His writing and research have been featured in the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The National Review, The Washington Post, The Hechinger ReportAmerican RadioWorks, and NPR.

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. She began her career as an attorney and activist, surging on to the political scene in 2010 as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. She also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City. She is the author of three books, including Brave, Not Perfect, New York Times bestseller Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, and Women Who Don’t Wait In Line. She has received several accolades for her work, including nominations as one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders and 40 Under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year award, and a Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education.

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy is an associate professor in the Sociology of Education program in the Department of Applied Statistics, Social Science and Humanities at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. He is the author of Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources, and Suburban Schooling, which examines the experiences of low income and racial minority families’ attempts at accessing school-related resources in an affluent suburb. He is currently fielding a multi-site ethnographic study in Westchester County that examines residents’ experiences with housing and schools. His research has appeared in multiple edited volumes and academic journals such as Urban EducationAmerican Educational Research Journal, and Ethnic & Racial Studies. He is a frequent media contributor and public speaker. His insights have been included in Ebony MagazineThe GrioThe RootUS World News Report, and on channels such as CNN and Al Jazeera.

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