Books: New in Print

December 13, 2000 9 min read
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School Choice

Charter Schools: The Parent’s Complete Guide, by Frederick A. Birkett (Prima Publishing, 3000 Lava Ridge Court, Roseville, CA 95661; 237 pp., $15 paperback). Written by the executive director of the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in Cambridge, Mass., this guide examines why charter schools are gaining popularity with parents. In offering a step-by-step process to help determine whether a charter school is right for a child, the author explains the differences between charter schools, which are publicly funded but largely autonomous, and typical public schools. He maintains that charter schools have a greater ability to respond to a child’s unique talents.

Choosing Schools: Consumer Choice and the Quality of American Schools, by Mark Schneider, Paul Teske, and Melissa Marschall (Princeton University Press, 41 William St., Princeton, NJ 08540; 315 pp., $35 hardcover). Provides a balanced, empirical analysis of how parents make choices about where they send their children to school and provides clarification of the core issues surrounding the debate about school choice. Based on a survey of 1,600 parents in four different school districts—two urban and two suburban, in New York City and New Jersey, respectively—the book examines school choice from the demand, or consumer, side of the equation by analyzing what parents value in education, how much they know about schools, how well they are able to match their desires for the children’s schools with their outcomes, and how their involvement in the schools is affected by the opportunity to choose. The authors also examine questions about segregation, the possibility that some children will be left behind, and many other critical issues.

Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much, by Ronald G. Ehrenberg (Harvard University Press, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138; 322 pp., $39.95 hardcover). In 20 concise chapters, the author, a former vice president of Cornell University who is now the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, explains why college tuition is on the rise and what, if anything, can be done about such increases. Using his own experiences, the author discusses why selective private colleges and universities have such a difficult time holding down costs. He also gives an analysis of those schools’ responses to annual college ratings published by news organizations.

Schools and Society

Reconstructing the Common Good in Education, edited by Larry Cuban and Dorothy Shipps (Stanford University Press, 521 Lomita Mall, Stanford, CA 94305; 304 pp., $19.95 paperback). Argues that in the past two decades, the broad historical purposes for tax-supported public schools have narrowed, and that corporate management has become the exemplar of modern school reform. Since the early 1980s, the authors maintain, a generation of school reformers has focused almost exclusively on seeking economic benefits from public schools. That emphasis has worsened the conflict between the legitimate interests of individuals and of society as a whole, they argue. Their book explores the ongoing debate about what constitutes “the common good” in American public education, assessing long-standing tensions between shared purposes and individual interests in schooling. Calls reconstructing the original vision of the common good education’s most essential and unfinished work.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Hidden Context of Violence in Schools and Society, edited by Stephanie Urso Spina (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706; 304 pp., $24.95 paperback). Argues that a “crisis of violence” in schools has been aided and abetted by such forces as poverty, racism, unequal opportunities, and the media’s presentation of violence. The book is a public call to arms for the eradication of cultural and socioeconomic conditions that create youth violence. Contributors include such scholars, writers, and theorists as Henry A. Giroux, Peter McLaren, Paulo Freire, and Stanley Aronowitz.

Taking Religion to School: Christian Theology and Secular Education, by Stephen H. Webb (Brazos Press, a division of Baker Book House, Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287; 256 pp., $19.99 paperback). Reframes crucial questions about religion and pedagogy in secular high schools and colleges. The author, a Christian theologian who accepts “the reality of religious pluralism,” argues that the teaching of religion is itself a religious activity, that teachers of religion should not disguise their own faiths in the classroom, and that high schools and universities should allow more space for religious voices.

Year-Round Schooling: Promises and Pitfalls, by Carolyn M. Shields and Steven Lynn Oberg (Scarecrow Press, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706; 280 pp., $45 hardcover). Shows why growing school enrollments, working parents, and shrinking budgets have prompted hundreds of school districts in the United States and Canada to adopt year-round school schedules. Attempts to present a comprehensive, researched-based explanation of the concept and practice of year- round school scheduling, reviewing a variety of alternative school schedules and showing how students, staffing, and building use are affected. The authors also summarize current scholarship on year-round schooling, giving both the negative and positive impacts claimed for the model.

Science & Technology

A Biological Brain in a Cultural Classroom: Applying Biological Research to Classroom Management, by Robert Sylwester (Corwin Press Inc., 2455 Teller Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320; 148 pp., $24.95 paperback). Making concepts of psychoneurophysiology accessible, the author, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Oregon, applies the latest in brain research and learning theory to classroom management. He stresses three beliefs: (1) Students should learn how their biological systems function, especially in the cognitive realm; (2) they should participate in classroom-management decisions as much as possible; and (3) classroom management and instruction are difficult to separate. Suggests ways educators might involve students more in their own education and learn to recognize the impact of their teacher’s behavior on the classroom environment.

Educational Computing in the Schools: Technology, Communication, and Literacy, edited by Jay Blanchard (The Haworth Press, 10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904-1580; 119 pp., $19.95 paperback). Essays covering many of the issues and challenges schools are facing in teaching and learning with technology. Focuses on making technology accessible and incorporating new styles of communication, teaching, and learning into the classroom.

Web Teaching Guide: A Practical Approach to Creating Course Web Sites, by Sarah Horton (Yale University Press, PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520; 176 pp., $14.95 paperback). Attempts to answer the questions that an educator who lacks extensive technical experience might ask about creating a World Wide Web site. The author, a multimedia specialist, draws on extensive experience as a consultant to teachers to explain the entire process of creating a site, from initial planning through site assessment. She examines the strengths of the medium and its possible uses, with a focus on practical matters related to creating Web-based instructional materials. Includes case studies.


The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach About Diversity, by Carlos E. Cortes (Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027; 202 pp., $22.95 paperback). The author, a media expert at the University of California, Riverside, argues that the media compete with schools in teaching students about the concepts of diversity. He suggests effective steps that parents and educators can take to prepare children to face both the negative and positive implications of the media’s presentation of multiculturalism. Will be of interest to those concerned with the power of the media and with multicultural education.

Connecting Character to Conduct: Helping Students Do the Right Things, by Rita Stein, Roberta Richin, Richard Banyon, Francine Banyon, and Marc Stein (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311-1714; 142 pp., $22.95 paperback). Poses the question: How can educators help students do the right things? And answers it by illustrating how to connect character, conduct, and a school’s curriculum by adopting the principles of respect, impulse control, compassion, and equity. Those guiding principles, the authors argue, should not be add-ons to a full curriculum, but should, through their connection to moral development, language arts, systems, citizenship, and discipline, already be part of a standards-driven curriculum and instructional program.

Pregnant With Meaning: Teen Mothers and the Politics of Inclusive Schooling, by Deirdre M. Kelly (Peter Lang, 275 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001; 257 pp., $29.95 paperback). Examines how and why teenage mothers become scapegoats for the public’s social anxieties and how schools do and should respond to those stigmatized students. The book links an ethnographic study of two schools to the wider North American political and economic context. Calls for better integration of teenage mothers into society by rethinking school and classroom practices.

Prom Night: Youth, Schools, and Popular Culture, by Amy L. Best (Routledge, 29 W. 35th St., New York, NY 10001; 228 pp., $19.95 paperback). The author, a sociologist, reveals how young people use the prom as a coming-of-age ritual to define themselves, and how they, as adolescents, are defined by it.

Real Boys’ Voices, by William S. Pollack, with Todd Shuster (Random House, 299 Park Ave., New York, NY 10171; 392 pp., $25.95 hardcover). A chance to hear boys’ voices, verbatim, as they talk about topics of interest to parents, teachers, and others. Based on nearly two decades of clinical work, interviews, and research, the book gives readers a look at boys’ fear of violence, the “bully culture,” boys’ deep desire to fit in and yet be themselves, their hidden spiritual side, and their sense of being misunderstood and disconnected. Addresses, in its discussion of violence, what the authors term the “Columbine Syndrome,” a national legacy of fear that has made the country more apprehensive of young boys and more prone to stereotype them as potentially violent. Asserts that the pressure boys feel to be popular, to succeed at sports, and to excel in school is leading to loneliness and shame, as well as more serious concerns, such as depression and suicide. Includes the five key warning signs of depression and a 15-point program to change the way adults relate to boys.

Sports Her Way: Motivating Girls To Start and Stay with Sports, by Susan Wilson (Fireside Books, a division of Simon and Shuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; 256 pp., $12 paperback). Written by a champion gymnast and longtime coach, this motivational book looks at the benefits to girls—mental, emotional, social, and physical—of playing sports. Answers difficult questions such as how parents and teachers can engage children in athletic activity regardless of age, physique, and physical ability. Also offers targeted advice for coaches of girls’ sports.

—A.E. Conrad

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

A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2000 edition of Education Week


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