‘Disillusioned:’ The Rise and Fall of the American Suburban Dream

Suburban schools promised quality and opportunity. What went wrong? (EWA Radio 336)

Photo credits: Naomieh Jovin, courtesy of Benjamin Herold

Suburbs have long been a touchstone of the proverbial American dream, promising happy lives and top-notch schools to their fortunate inhabitants. But what happens when white and affluent families move on, leaving behind massive municipal debt, poorly planned infrastructure, and school systems ill-equipped to meet the needs of newer residents – many of whom are often less wealthy, Black, and Hispanic?

Longtime education journalist Benjamin Herold, author of “Disillusioned: Five Families and the Unraveling of America’s Suburbs,” takes readers deep into the history of how gentrification, race and privilege factored into the rise and fall of suburban life, and how his own educational opportunities and life path were shaped and influenced by the opportunities his white parents were able to access in the community of Penn Hills, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

EWA Radio is sponsored by SXSW EDU. EWA retains full editorial control over the content of the podcast.

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