A headshot of Erika Kitzmiller


On June 13, 2022, term assistant professor of education Erika Kitzmiller’s book, The Roots of Educational Inequality: Philadelphia's Germantown High School, 1907-2014, was reviewed by Camika Royal in the Teachers College Record. The review focuses on Kitzmiller’s research approach and reflects on her portrayal of the conception, life, and tragic ending for a public high school in Philadelphia. Germantown High School was closed after 99 years of operation due to governmental neglect, abandonment, and disposal.

In the review, Royal notes how Kitzmiller uses interviews she conducted with Germantown High graduates, faculty, and community members to corroborate quantitative data. Royal praises Kitzmiller’s ability to successfully weave ethnography, history, and geographical analysis into her narrative chronicling the school’s roots in anglo normativity. Kitzmiller’s book rejects claims regarding a golden age of school funding, instead arguing that race-based inequities in public schooling have always existed. Social and governmental resources for public schools have largely focused on supporting institutions that primarily serve white youth while failing to provide the same level of financial backing for students in predominantly Black communities. Royal emphasizes that Kitzmiller’s analysis demonstrates Philadelphia’s lack of both widespread political will and public funding to fully desegregate schools or make school resources equitable for Black students in the 1970s. The reviewer concludes that Kitzmiller’s book provides “multiple types of evidence to support racism, classism, and governmental neglect of the very schools that should typify American democracy.”