How can we promote the learning and well-being of all students, especially those who come from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds? Anindya Kundu argues that we can fight against deeply rooted inequalities in the American educational system by harnessing student agency—each person’s unique capacity for positive change. To make his case, Kundu draws powerful narratives from a population of individuals who beat the odds to become academically and professionally successful. These strivers have overcome challenges such as broken families, homelessness, unexpected pregnancies, forms of abuse, incarceration, and more, to make it in the world. But it wasn’t simply individualism, tenacity, resilience, or grit that helped them. Rather, as Kundu illustrates, it was a combination of social and cultural supports that paved the path towards their dreams, harnessing the inherent power of their agency.
“Kundu’s book is much more than simply an academic contribution to the vast literature on education and social mobility. If his core ideas are taken seriously, this book can serve as a resource to educators, policymakers, community advocates, and others who seek to address the educational needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged students.”
—From the Foreword by Pedro A. Noguera, distinguished professor of education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA