Opinion
Education Opinion

New in Print

January 11, 2005 5 min read

Bullying, Hazing, & School Violence

A lawyer and educator explains the basic legal principles school personnel must know to recognize and address school bullying and harassment. The book includes a discussion of the ways educators can distinguish between bullying and teasing, as well as legal definitions of harassment based on gender, race, religion, and disability. Topics such as civil rights, free speech, student threats, and Internet-enabled bullying are explored.

A primer for educators on the practice of hazing in high schools that provides both a history of hazing and a summary of the related legal issues. The book poses three important questions: What are the causes of hazing? What are its consequences? And how can hazing be eliminated?

The editors and contributors to this collection aim to advance the study of school violence and safety by questioning research methodologies in the field. The lead article, for instance, demonstrates the uncertain validity of such methods as student self-reports and student risk-behavior surveys.

This book provides a basic foundation for the study of school violence, with explanations of the various kinds of violent acts perpetrated on school grounds and compilations of the related statistics. The authors emphasize the atypical nature of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and assess the media’s role in influencing public perceptions of this issue. They also identify and evaluate recent responses by the criminal-justice system to school violence.

Children & Consumer Culture

American children became socialized as consumers between 1890 and 1940, according to the author of this exploration of the phenomenon’s impact. During that 50-year period, she writes, a “distinctive children’s consumer culture” emerged. Her book details the social, economic, and cultural shifts that created and then influenced the child consumer. It includes a lengthy discussion of school bank programs, school savings accounts, and the thrift education movement.

Dropouts

A collection of essays designed to raise public awareness about the increasing number of students, mostly poor and minority, who drop out of school and the negative impact the phenomenon has on individuals, communities, and the nation’s economic health. The volume also seeks to explain why the graduation-rate crisis is an issue of civil rights. Its emphasis, however, is on making improvements in high school graduation rates a key focus of education reform. Contributors include Lisa Abrams and Walt Haney, Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters, Mark Dynarski, Daniel J. Losen, Russell W. Rumberger, and Christopher B. Swanson.

Although based on an Australian study, the Students Completing Schooling Project, this book will strike a chord with American educators and policymakers concerned with the growing number of dropouts here. Of special interest is the authors’ technique of presenting student “portraits”—passages capturing the voice of the “early school leaver.” Their inclusion gives weight to the book’s contention that too often students’ voices go unheeded and unheard in the rush to administer high-stakes tests and implement accountability measures.

Education Reform

A handbook giving educators knowledge and tools they can use to assure that all students become academically proficient. It demonstrates how school achievement data can be used to bring about educational improvement: by studying performance data to ascertain students’ academic strengths and weaknesses, by locating high-performing schools that have overcome comparable problems, and by determining these schools’ best practices and replicating them in schools found to be in need of improvement. Purchasing information can be found at www.communitiesjust4kids.org.

In the first section of this three-part book, the author provides a meta-analysis of legislated school reform across 50 states, with a focus on Massachusetts. He laments the ongoing failure of reform, which he attributes to its emphasis on high-stakes testing and other accountability measures. Part II is an examination of the author’s “key elements of schooling”: curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In Part III he calls for a process of reinvention—“a return to sound ideas that have been forgotten or abandoned.”

This collection of articles by education developers analyzes interventions that have been successfully “scaled up”—school reforms that have been effective not only in individual classrooms and schools, but also more widely in multiple schools or districts.

A look at 10 problems deeply ingrained in American education, problems that, according to the author, are “not on the surface, but are buried in the unconscious operations of daily school life.” These problems make up what he sees as the built-in dilemmas today’s educators inherit, and they are the targets of solutions he offers aimed at their removal.

School Governance

This collection, edited by a former Washington Post education editor, seeks to clarify who is, and who should be, responsible for educating America’s schoolchildren. Written with the view that the trend in school governance is leading to an ever-growing gap between education policymakers and those responsible for outcomes, the book’s essays by prominent education writers, researchers, and scholars analyze important issues of this debate. They include the role of the Constitution, the pros and cons of increasing federal control, and the impact of school choice. Contributors include Larry Cuban, Linda Darling-Hammond, Susan H. Fuhrman, Paul T. Hill, and Henry M. Levin.

School Uniforms

A sociologist who is a longtime researcher of school uniform policies gives a comprehensive history of the movement toward school uniforms and offers a critical evaluation of the literature addressing the topic. His aim is to explore what the school uniform debate reveals about American education and school reform.

In The Trouble With Ed Schools (Yale University Press, PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520; 256 pp., $35 hardback), Stanford University professor David F. Labaree tracks the historical development of America’s schools of education and examines current reasons for their poor reputation and low status among academics, policymakers, the public, and such schools’ own leaders. In this passage, he sheds light on some of the complexities of teaching that make it difficult to know how or what to teach novices:

A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2005 edition of Education Week as New in Print