Education Book Review

New in Print

April 26, 2005 5 min read

ATHLETICS

A sports journalist’s recounting of the history, evolution, and impact of Title IX, the federal law guaranteeing equal rights for women in educational programs—including athletic programs—that receive federal funds. In addition to summarizing how courts and colleges have read (and misread) the law, the author offers from his reporting a collection of personal stories that illuminate its meaning in the lives of women and girls, as well as the culture of the nation.

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

The remarkable story of a woman of few means who decided to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged schoolchildren in East Oakland, Calif. Visiting a 1st grade classroom 18 years ago, Oral Lee Brown, who had spent an impoverished childhood in rural Mississippi, was touched by the plight of her new community’s children. Through grit, determination, and careful management of her modest salary, she labored to make good on a bold promise she gave to the children: to send them all to college. In addition to telling her story, the book offers advice for parents and students on how to prepare, both educationally and financially, for college.

Observations and insights into the lives and development of 5-year-olds, told through 12 vignettes, one for each month of the year, written by their kindergarten teacher. The author, who no longer teaches, has a feel for the wit and wonder in the small experiences of life. Her writing credits include contributions to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

A warning for high school students and their parents and educators that college-eligible does not mean college-ready. Delineating both the cognitive skills and the subject-area knowledge that college-bound students need to succeed in postsecondary education, the work is based on a three-year study by the Association of American Universities, in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts. It includes recommendations for high school teachers and administrators on how to improve their schools’ college preparation. Written by the developer and executive director of Oregon’s Proficiency-based Admission Standards System, who is also the founding director of the Center for Educational Policy Research at the University of Oregon.

Argues that the pre-eminence of American higher education is threatened by two systemic weaknesses: inadequate precollegiate preparation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and racial minorities, and underrepresentation of such students at the country’s most distinguished colleges and universities. Written by two former college presidents and their research associate at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this research-filled volume lays out a broad policy agenda—stretching from childhood to the college-admissions process and reaching across political and institutional boundaries—to strengthen racial and economic diversity.

COMMUNITY AND COLLABORATION

An independent researcher, a social worker, and a freelance editor, all with years of experience and interest in the development of young people, examine the benefits of “community schools”: public schools that are open most of the time, are governed by partnerships between a school system and a community agency, and offer an array of health and social services. The book details the approach to creating and structuring a community school developed by the Children’s Aid Society, which operates 13 such schools in low-income areas of New York City.

A collection of essays that embrace the concept that learning, rather than teaching, is the core of a school’s mission, and encourage such approaches as collaborative work, formative assessments, and continuous improvement. Contributors include Michael Fullan, Barbara Eason-Watkins, Dennis Sparks, and Rick Stiggins.

MEDIA

Two eminent scientists who co-direct the Yale Family Television Research and Consultation Center provide guidance for educators and parents on the appropriate use of electronic media. In a scholarly work both accessible and highly readable, the authors explore the impact of the often-violent images children are exposed to through television, video games, and the Internet. Though they find that these media influences have toxic effects, stimulating destructive ideas and aggression, they also see the possibility of some good coming out of children’s growing amount of screen time. With the help of parents and teachers, they say, the electronic age could foster enriched creativity and play, intensified imagination, and greater school readiness.

SERVICE-LEARNING

The culmination of a three-year, three-part study funded by the Ford Foundation, this volume tells what happens when service-learning—a combination of service to the community and formal academic study—takes on the added dimension of another culture and another part of the world. The study charts the development of international service-learning, describes its effects on students, agencies, and institutions, and tries to gauge its impact on the common good through promoting such intangibles as compassion, understanding, and civic-mindedness.

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT

A call for children and their teachers to step away from education by rote—the title’s “Game of School”—and return joy, curiosity, and creativity to the classroom. By focusing on grades, testing, and behavior, schools and parents are stifling children’s natural passion for learning, the author suggests. Both they and their teachers will find greater satisfaction—and make better progress academically—by emphasizing “authentic learning.” He offers examples of the latter, as well as a “joy and misery index” meant to remind teachers of what matters most in the classroom.

EXCERPT: ‘Tuning In’ Young People

David T.Z. Mindich, a former CNN assignment editor and now a professor of journalism, from his book Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow the News (Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; 224 pp., $20 hardback).

EXCERPT: Science for Us All

Joy Hakim, from a brief introduction to The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way, the first of a projected six books for young people on science, a series that follows the author’s award-winning 10-book history series, The Story of US. (Smithsonian Books, distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110; 298 pp., $21.95 hardback.)

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