Education Book Review

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By Anne E. Das — February 05, 2008 3 min read
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ATHLETICS

The relationship between a white, suburban basketball coach and his black, urban high school team plays out over two seasons.

High school basketball’s “dirty trick”: setting up poor African-American players staking their future on the sport for almost-certain failure.

COLLECTIONS

Essayists examine challenges to the model in Westernized societies around the globe.

Contributors include James W. Guthrie, Dan Goldhaber, Henry M. Levin, William F. Massy, Therese J. McGuire, Lawrence O. Picus, David N. Plank, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Kenneth K.Wong, and others.

Scholars tally the cost in reduced personal and tax income and increased spending on health care, criminal justice, and public assistance.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

A desk reference, including case excerpts.

The education of children with disabilities—in the home, public and private institutions, and schools—from the 1800s to the present.

TECHNOLOGY

A resource for digital novices.

Using the emerging medium for educational purposes.

Effective course design, practices, and professional development for virtual school programs.

SCHOOL REFORM

BRIC ARCHIVE

“With each scathing review of American education comes a different attack on what schools currently do. Depending on the timing, the setting, the speaker, and the audience, the problem shifts. It could be poor test scores, inadequate preparation for college or the world of work, poor quality of teaching, or a general lack of public confidence in schools. Along with each outcry comes a demand for renewal, reform, restructuring, reinvention. Something must be done! All this implies change: moving schools from what they are to something better. But many individuals, including educators, do not believe something can be done. They are wrong.”

An associate professor of educational leadership at Fordham University and the director of the National School Change Awards, Lew Smith has spent the past several years examining ways severely underachieving schools have turned themselves into examples of high performance. For his book Schools That Change, he distills his findings into a two-part framework consisting of three “essential elements” and “catalytic variables.” The former—context, capacity, and conversations—must be considered for reform to occur, he explains, while the latter—internal dissonance, external forces, and leadership—can hasten its progress. Complementing the framework is an analysis of reform dynamics, an explanation of the change awards, and case studies of eight recipient schools. Smith also outlines potential pitfalls in the transformation process, stressing the need for ample time and comprehensive planning. His message offers hope that change, if done correctly, can be within the reach of any school.

ARTS EDUCATION

Bill Strickland was a 19-year-old college freshman when, in 1968, he founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a youth arts center serving the derelict Pittsburgh neighborhood where he grew up. His inspiration was his high school pottery teacher, whose classes gave him a reason to attend school, and whose influence helped him graduate and enroll in college. Since then, the program has expanded to include career and technical education for disadvantaged adults, a jazz auditorium, a greenhouse, and an arts partnership with the Pittsburgh public schools. Of the students who participate, he writes, more than 90 percent graduate from high school, and 85 percent pursue postsecondary education.

In his book Make the Impossible Possible, Strickland, a 1996 MacArthur “genius grant” winner, recounts the center’s beginnings and growth into the Manchester Bidwell Corp. Interwoven throughout are descriptions of his approach to education and social entrepreneurship.

Make the Impossible Possible by Bill Strickland with Vince Rause, published by Currency Books/Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.

A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2008 edition of Education Week as but this is a test

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