Increasingly, public schools have student populations that are overwhelmingly minority, disproportionately poor, and more likely to drop out or have below grade-level skills in academic performance (Orfield and Gordon 2001). The path to this juncture has been well chronicled in the vast literature on urban education, which describes decades of racial and socioeconomic shifts in neighborhood composition, misguided policies, ill-informed intervention strategies, blatant neglect, and well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to compensate for past indifferences. Going forward, we face the prospect of a trove of innovations and policies that address the academic attainment of minority youth who are overrepresented in poorly performing urban public schools. Whether these efforts will have a fundamental impact on the school outcomes of poor urban Americans or will register as just another piecemeal approach to system change is unclear. Ultimately, however, the likelihood of success will depend in large part on a coordinated approach to change, one that addresses the root causes of inequality, including socioeconomic and residential segregation as well as the disconnect between the out-of-school and academic experiences of urban, minority families.