I have argued that history has created low-opportunity communities and that mainstream school reform has been insufficient at providing meaningful life prospects to students of color in such communities. Top-down educational policy and school reform has fallen short of providing urban students of color with what they need to be successful partly because such reforms neglect the social nature of schooling. Schools are social institutions filled with people. Principals, teachers, custodians, counselors, crossing guards, psychologists, paraprofessionals, and other school personnel who work in schools, come from different backgrounds and neighborhoods. People enter schools with their cultural baggage. Rituals, routines, structures, and traditions within schools and districts influence their behavior, how they perceive students and families, how they prioritize different aspect of schooling, and how opportunities are distributed to students.