December 05, 1984 7 min read

The Burden of Brown: Thirty Years of School Desegregation, by Raymond Wolters (The University of Tennessee Press, 293 Communications Building, Knoxville, Tenn. 37996; 346 pages, cloth $24.95).

As a result of attempts to integrate public schools in the United States, both education and the Constitution have suffered “grievously,” according to the author. He attributes the decline in the quality of education since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education to “naively liberal court orders, ... the influence of progressive education, and ... the defiant and irresponsible behavior of some students.” The Constitution has been harmed, he writes, because judges have claimed the right to determine social policy, and he argues that the Supreme Court erred when its decisions went beyond mandating desegregation or “color blindness,” to mandating racial balance or “color consciousness.” Mr. Wolters is professor of history at the University of Delaware.

The Future of Children’s Television: Results of the Markle Foundation/Boys Town Conference, edited by John P. Murray and Gavriel Salomon (Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, The Boys Town Center, Communications and Public Service Division, Boys Town, Neb. 68010; 174 pages, paper $5).

Arguing that in an increasingly technological age, Americans cannot formulate effective education policy without also formulating an effective telecommunications policy, this report presents in two parts the results of a 1982 conference designed to assess past research on the impact of television on children. (The conference was sponsored by the Markle Foundation, a New York-based organization that focuses on the educational uses of the media and communications technology.) In the first part of the report, conference participants weigh in on such topics as the effects of violence on children; in the second part, the participants summarize major research issues, such as the new technologies that are developing within the medium. Mr. Murray is a senior scientist and the director of youth and family policy at Boys Town, an organization that provides educational and outreach services for at-risk youth, and Mr. Salomon is a professor of educational psychology and communications at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The Measurement of Equity in School Finance: Conceptual, Methodological, and Empirical Dimensions, by Robert Berne and Leanna Stiefel (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md. 21218; 297 pages, cloth $35).

Expressing concern that in the current era of fiscal restraint, new ways must be found to measure and ensure the equity of school-finance plans, the authors present a framework for setting up alternative systems of evaluating their fairness. They offer hypothetical illustrations of systems that could be used to gauge the fairness of school funding and allocation methods from the perspective of the benefit to students rather than to taxpayers. The book also includes a review of the rationales behind current studies on school finance and the results of a nine-year study of school-finance equity in Michigan and a similar 14-year study in New York State. Mr. Berne, associate professor of public administration at the Graduate School of Public Administration of New York University, and Ms. Stiefel, associate professor of economics at the school, have written this book for policymakers, financial analysts, members of public-interest groups, and others concerned with evaluating or changing the equity of school-finance systems.

Guides and Directories

Company-School Collaboration: A Manual for Developing Successful Projects, by the staff of the St. Louis Public Schools (Education Relations and Resources, American Council of Life Insurance, 1850 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006-2284; 55 pages, paper, free--a limited number available).

This manual, written for corporate officials who are responsible for establishing company-school partnerships such as adopt-a-school or career-education programs, presents a view of the benefits of such programs; suggestions for deciding what kinds of programs to develop based on the company’s resources and the school’s needs; recommendations on how to define the roles of participants from the school and the company; and strategies for effective collaboration with administration, faculty, and students. The manual also offers ways to evaluate and promote corporation-school programs and resources for additional information.

Coping with Computers in the Elementary and Middle Schools, by C. Alan Riedesel and Douglas H. Clements (Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 07632; 315 pages, paper $21.95).

This manual offers teachers guidelines on using computers effectively with children in grades 1 through 8. The book is divided into five sections, including computer literacy, the general use of computers in the classroom, how computers can be used to help teach specific subjects, computer programming, and current and future concerns about the use and misuse of computers. The book includes an appendix that lists the names and addresses of journals, directories, clearinghouses, and organizations on computers. Mr. Riedesel is professor of learning and instruction at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Mr. Clements is assistant professor of teacher development and curriculum studies at Kent State University.

School Site Budgeting: Decentralized School Management, by John Greenhalgh (University Press of America, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Md. 20706; 206 pages, cloth $20.75, paper $10.75).

Based on his experience as assistant superintendent of business for the Fairfield (Conn.) Public Schools, the author provides a plan to improve school management by moving decisions from the state or district level to the local school-building level. Although the plan is not limited to budget issues, the author focuses on the planning and implementation of the school budget at the local level as a way to maximize local control of decisionmaking. The guide is written for those involved with school-finance planning, organization, and administration.

Other Resources

A Citizen’s Notebook for Effective Schools, compiled by Ross Zerchykov (Institute for Responsive Education, 605 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 02215; 502 pages, looseleaf, $20 with binder, $13 without binder).

For teachers, administrators, and school-board members who want to involve parents and community members and organizations in improving local schools, this publication offers information on effective education. Part of a three-year study funded by the Mott Foundation, the book focuses on the need to provide all children with effective schooling, not just those at the highest ability levels. The notebook is divided into three parts: issues in school effectiveness and related research; examples of successful school-improvement projects; and lists of written material, organizations, and people that can provide more information on questions of school improvement.

America’s Country Schools, by Andrew Gulliford (The Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036; 296 pages, paper $18.95).

Through extensively used illustrations, this book records the changing lives of the teachers, students, and communities served by America’s rural schools over the last 100 years. The publication documents the architectural development of the school buildings themselves by including more than 400 photographs and drawings. The publication is the result of a two-year project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities entitled “Country School Legacy: Humanities on the Frontier,” which examined the role of the country school in the history and community life of Western America. Mr. Gulliford, who has taught in rural Colorado, supplements the project with information, interviews, and photographs of country schools and the students, teachers, and townspeople who have been involved with them in the rest of the United States.

The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, by Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard (Oxford University Press, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; 587 pages, $35.00 cloth).

This extensive collection contains almost 2,000 entries on authors, characters, plot summaries, illustrators, publishers, and other elements of children’s literature, from early fairy and folk tales to modern novels and stories for television. The authors cover children’s literature from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as works for children in other cultures that have been translated into English and assimilated into English-language literature.

--Pamela Winston

A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 1984 edition of Education Week as Books