Published Online: September 18, 2002
Published in Print: September 18, 2002, as New in Print


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Academic Improvement

  • Achievement Matters: Getting Your Child the Best Education Possible by Hugh B. Price (Kensington Publishing Corp., 850 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022; 256 pp., $27 hardcover).
    The president of the National Urban League provides parents with practical tips on improving children's literacy and achievement levels while instilling enthusiasm for education. His book explains the philosophy behind the National Urban League's Campaign for African- American Achievement and discusses programs that the Urban League and its partners in the campaign have developed to counter what is perceived as a trend of indifference to academic success. Guidelines for parents include a list of "benchmark skills" required for students in each grade, questions for parents to ask teachers and administrators, and ways of implementing change at the school and district levels.
  • Divorce, Family Structure, and the Academic Success of Children
    by William Jeynes (The Haworth Press Inc., 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 130904; 206 pp., $24.95 paperback).
    An exploration of the effects of changing family dynamics on children's academic success, including divorce and remarriage, single-parent families, nontraditional family structures, changes in socioeconomic status, and changes in mobility. Provides historical background, examines current methodologies, and offers insight into future research.
  • The New Public School Parent: How to Get the Best Education for Your Child
    by Bob Chase (Penguin Books, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014; 276 pp., $14 paperback).
    A handbook for parents who want to be involved in their children's schools written by the two-term president of the National Educational Association. Introduces parents to important topics in public education, including standardized testing, learning disabilities, technology, and homework. All royalties from the sale of this book will go to the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education.
  • Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning
    by Jacqueline Grennon Brooks (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 158 pp., $22.95 paperback).
    A call to create schools that will, in the author's vision, focus on students, not standards. Exposes and investigates the accepted "mythology" of what makes a good school, and explores ways to "blur the distinctions between 'school life' and 'real life,' between learning and teaching."

Charter Schools

  • Charter Schools and Accountability in Public Education
    by Paul T. Hill and Robin J. Lake (Brookings Institution Press, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20036; 125 pp., $16.95 paperback).
    An examination of how new forms of accountability for public education work within charter schools. Describes the development of internal accountability mechanisms, and suggests ways that these processes can be enhanced and increased in charter schools. The authors studied 150 schools and 60 authorizing agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Michigan, conducting extensive case studies of 17 of the 150 schools. To these, they applied data collected from a nationally representative survey of charter schools.
  • Hard Lessons: The Promise of an Inner City Charter School
    by Jonathan Schorr (Ballantine Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036; 352 pp., $26.95).
    The story of the creation of a group of charter schools by families disenchanted with their local public schools in East Oakland, Calif. The author, a former public school teacher and a former reporter for The Oakland Tribune, spent three years working with the teachers, students, and parents of one of the city's charters, E.C. Reems Academy, starting with its establishment in 1999.

Learning Communities

  • Building Learning Communities With Character: How to Integrate Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
    by Bernard Novick, Jeffrey S. Kress, and Maurice J. Elias (Association for Supervision and Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 142 pp., $22.95 paperback).
    A practical guide for developing a program of social- emotional learning and creating a positive school climate that will sustain and nurture it. Details, stage by stage, the implementation process for such a program: assessing the school's readiness for change, setting goals for the program, anticipating details and roadblocks, obtaining feedback to modify the program, and crafting standards for accomplishment in both academics and character. Using an approach based on problem-solving, the authors demonstrate how to make schools goal-oriented environments.
  • In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization
    by Deborah Meier (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108; 200 pp., $23 hardcover).
    A legendary public school reformer, the founder of New York City's innovative Central Park East Schools, presents her vision of "trustworthy public schools" and outlines their importance to a democratic society. Arguing that standardized curricula and tests may undermine learning environments based on trust, she calls for a "dramatic reinvention of schools based on an older tradition in which adults kept meaningful company with children." Offers both a critique of what Ms. Meier considers the ideology of testing and a rationale for the establishment of more small public schools, such as those she and her colleagues created in Boston as well as New York. Using specific examples from her work at Boston's Mission Hill School, she explores why schools need to be "communities of learning," where positive relationships between teachers, teachers and administrators, and teachers and parents work to enhance the learning environment. "All this," she writes, "is part of a larger vision: that children can see the school as just one part of the larger adult company that surrounds and protects them, and thus as a place where they dare to challenge themselves to go beyond their customary limits, and even beyond the viewpoint of their families and communities—to explore the wider world."

Violence and Abuse

  • Before Conflict: Preventing Aggressive Behavior
    by John D. Byrnes (Scarecrow Press, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706; 240 pp., $24.95 paperback).
    A leading authority on preventing aggression in the workplace and in schools proposes ways to prevent violence, rather than simply reacting to it. He rejects the standard practice of conflict resolution in favor of a methodology of what he calls "aggression management," which entails handling problems before they create conflicts. Suggests ways to measure anger in oneself and in others.
  • Children Who See Too Much: Lessons From the Child Witness to Violence Project
    by Betsy McAlister Groves (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108; 170 pp., $24 hardcover).
    Drawing on a decade of work in the field, the founder of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center relates case studies of children who have seen horrible acts of violence committed in their own homes or neighborhoods. She argues that "there is no age at which a child is immune to the effects of exposure to violence"—including violence on television—and notes that the effects of violence can be evident in children as young as 6 months old. She also asserts that exposure to violence actually changes the structure of a child's developing brain. These children, she explains, may never feel safe, are likely to develop new fears and/or increased aggression, and may lose newly acquired skills. Her recommendations include giving such children permission to talk about the violence in their lives, and she encourages both parents and educators to explain violent and upsetting events to children while re- establishing a sense of order and routine. The book's findings are updated with an appendix dealing specifically with children's reactions to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

For more information on these books, contact the publisher or your local library or bookstore. To order, call (888) 887-3200 or visit shelf.htm.

Vol. 22, Issue 3, Page 36

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