Books: New In Print

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Myths of Coeducation: Selected Essays, 1964-1983, by Florence Howe, (Indiana University Press, 10th and Morton Sts., Bloomington, Ind. 47405; 306 pages, cloth $35.00, paper $12.95).

In a series of essays written over the last 20 years, the author examines issues relating to the education of girls and women from the elementary to the college level. A central myth in women's education, she asserts, is that if women are admitted to men's education programs and treated exactly as men are, the problems of inequality between the sexes will be solved. She argues instead that such students are taught a "men's curriculum" and that there is a need for women's studies programs, single-sex schools and colleges, and a women's curriculum that can ultimately evolve into a truly coeducational and equal curriculum for all students. Also discussed: how elementary and secondary schools encourage sex-role stereotyping at a young age, the future of women's colleges, and feminism and the study of literature. Ms. Howe, former president of the Modern Language Association, is currently president and publisher of the Feminist Press and professor of American Studies at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. The essays in this book have been delivered as lectures and published in a number of journals.

The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crises of Our Time, by Diane Ravitch (Basic Books Inc. Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., New York, N.Y. 10022; 352 pages, cloth $19.95).

Ms. Ravitch praises the tradition found in American schools that encourages students to debate and question, but contends that citizens are far from agreement about what other goals they expect the schools to accomplish. The book contains 20 essays written during the last decade and a chapter on the history of the education-reform movement since the late 1950's. The essays, some of which have not previously been published, examine the uses of testing, humanities education in elementary and secondary schools, tuition tax credits, desegregation, the role of the federal government in education, bilingual education, and what makes a high-quality school. Ms. Ravitch advocates that academic programs for all children be strengthened and questions how publicly funded schools can justify providing some children with education equivalent to that found in private schools, other children with training for a trade, and still others with "preparation for nothing at all." Ms. Ravitch is adjunct professor of history and education at Teachers College, Columbia University and author of The Troubled Crusade and other books on education.

Who Controls Our Schools?: American Values in Conflict, by Michael W. Kirst (W.H. Freeman and Company, 41 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10010; 183 pages, cloth $19.95, paper $11.95).

Warning that Americans are asking their schools to accomplish too many goals while providing them with too little time and money, Mr. Kirst examines a range of issues pertinent to the current discussion of education reform. He looks at the cyclical pattern of education-reform efforts; the rise of the common or public school in the United States; the difficulties involved in comparing American schools with those in Europe and Japan; and changes in federal, state, and local roles in decisionmaking. Mr. Kirst also addresses issues of local, state, and federal funding for schools; the conflicting groups and influences that shape curriculum and textbook choices; and the women's movement and other changes in the labor market that have affected the teaching profession. In his final chapter, the author recommends what he views as cost-effective school reforms and political strategies that can benefit education. He also includes suggested further readings. Mr. Kirst was president of the California State Board of Education from 1977 to 1981 and is now professor of education at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.

Guides and Directories

American Community, Technical, and Junior Colleges: A Guide, Ninth Edition, edited by Dale Parnell and Jack W. Peltason (American Council on Education/Macmillan Series on Higher Education, Macmillan Publishing Company, Professional Books Division, 866 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022; 956 pages, cloth $85).

This comprehensive guide lists alphabetically by state more than 1,200 accredited, degree-granting two-year colleges in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the trust territories. Each listing includes a brief description of the school's history, student and community life, academic programs, costs and financial aid, and other information for students, parents, and counselors. Mr. Parnell is the president of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges; Mr. Peltason, the former president of the American Council on Education, currently serves as the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine.

The Yearbook of School Law 1984, edited by Philip K. Piele (National Organization on Legal Problems of Education, Southwest Plaza, Suite 223, 3601 Southwest 29th St., Topeka, Kan. 66614; 337 pages, cloth $29.95).

Eight legal experts weigh in on issues affecting school law in this book, which provides summaries of about 950 state and federal cases decided in 1983 pertaining to public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions in the United States. Divided into eight sections, the book covers school governance, school employees, collective bargaining, student programs and rights, torts or legal responsibilities outside of contracts, school finance, property laws, and higher education. Mr. Piele, professor of educational policy and management at the University of Oregon, also includes a table of cases by title.

Other Resources

94-142 and 504: Numbers That Add Up to Educational Rights for Handicapped Children, A Guide for Parents and Advocates, (Children's Defense Fund, 122 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001; 57 pages, paper $4.75).

This booklet looks at the rights of handicapped children under federal law and examines the responsibilities of school districts to provide handicapped children with a "free appropriate public education." It also addresses the procedures involved in evaluating a child's needs, the development of individualized education plans, and parents' rights when they disagree with the district's assessment or treatment of their child's needs. The guide also includes a listing of federal, state, and local advocacy groups; national organizations for the handicapped; national and regional offices of federal agencies; and state special-education departments. In addition, it provides an overview of the legal background of P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Civil Rights Act for Handicapped Persons. The Children's Defense Fund is a national, nonprofit children's advocacy organization.

Voices from the Classroom: Students and Teachers Speak Out on the Quality of Teaching in Our Schools, edited by Laurie Olsen and Melinda Moore, a report of the Students for Quality Teaching Project/Citizens Policy Center (Citizens Policy Center, 1515 Webster St., #401, Oakland, Calif. 94612; 80 pages, paper $6).

The Students for Quality Teaching Project, supported by foundation grants, was designed to provide students and teachers with an opportunity to participate in the current discussion about education reform. This report, examining how both look at issues relating to the quality of instruction, is based on interviews with 2,670 students and 137 teachers in middle and high schools in four California districts. It is divided according to issues discussed, such as what makes an excellent teacher or what it feels like to be teaching for the first time. The booklet includes the students' recommendations for improvement in each area. An accompanying manual for middle- and high-school officials interested in creating similar projects is also available from the Citizens Policy Center.

--Pamela Winston

Vol. 04, Issue 30

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