Books: New in Print
Waiting for a Miracle: Why Schools Can't Solve Our Problems--and How We Can, by Dr. James P. Comer (Dutton, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014; 261pp., $23.95 hardcover). The creator of the School Development Program, used in 650 schools in 28 states, the author argues that school reform suffers from a culture of individualism and an insufficient focus on families, communities, and child development. Dr. Comer, a Yale University child psychiatrist, also outlines the principles and strategies behind his program, used most commonly by inner-city schools.
Made in America: Immigrant Students in Our Public Schools, by Laurie Olsen (The New Press, 450 W. 41st St., New York, NY 10036; 244pp., $25 hardcover). The co-director of the research and advocacy organization California Tomorrow, Ms. Olsen reflects on her two years spent observing life at the pseudonymous "Madison High School," where more than one-third of the student population speaks only limited English and 20 percent of the students were born abroad. The author interviews teachers, administrators, students, and parents and explores the challenges of bilingual education and cultural stereotypes.
Tightrope to Tomorrow: Pensions, Productivity, and Public Education, by Morton J. Marcus (TECHNOS Press, Agency for Instructional Technology, Box A, Bloomington, IN 47402; 128 pp., $24.98 hardcover). Written by an Indiana University business professor who is also a syndicated newspaper columnist and radio commentator, this provocative look at why America needs to invest in its schools focuses on the economic and social imperatives of the nation's future. But unlike similar arguments, this one comes with a plan to pay for the investment without reliance on property taxes.
The Teacher Unions: How the NEA and AFT Sabotage Reform and Hold Students, Parents, Teachers, and Taxpayers Hostage to Bureaucracy, by Myron Lieberman (The Free Press, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; 320pp., $25 hardcover). Citing internal documentation and years of personal experience, Mr. Lieberman, himself a life member of the National Education Association, launches a broadside against the two national teachers' unions, calling them the primary obstacle to education reform. The author's critical evaluation of the unions' history, policies, and activities also outlines more effective ways to protect the interests of educators and education in America.
The Youth Charter: How Communities Can Work Together To Raise Standards for All Our Children, by William Damon (The Free Press, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; 251pp., $24 hardcover). This book by the director of the Center for Adolescence, a well-regarded expert on the moral dimension of education, reaches out to parents who are unsatisfied with the standards by which their communities raise children. The "youth charter," which Mr. Damon provides to help parents regain control of those standards, is presented step by step, both as a process and a product. The "process" involves planning through town meetings and conversations among concerned adults; the "product" refers to the standards and expectations that provide new guidance for local youths.
The Language of Learning: A Guide to Educational Terms, by J. Lynn McBrien & Ronald S. Brandt (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1250 N. Pitt St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 114 pp., $13.95 paper). A dictionary of educational terms, clearly defined, cross-referenced, and indexed. Many entries include examples and resources for more extensive follow up.
Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods To Rebuild America, by Lisbeth B. Schorr (Doubleday, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036; 482pp., $24.95 hardcover). Compiling seven years of research, including visits to the sites of more than 40 initiatives in 20 states, this book by a prominent social analyst and advocate for disadvantaged children pinpoints the key attributes of successful social programs, as well as the bureaucratic barriers that often prevent their expansion. Ms. Schorr offers a detailed look at more than 20 programs combating youth violence, intergenerational poverty, and other serious social problems that have broken through such bureaucratic barriers.
"Help Me, I'm Sad": Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression, by Dr. David G. Fassler & Lynne S. Dumas (Viking, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014; 210 pp., $22.95 hardcover). Written by a practicing child psychiatrist and a former teacher, this guide for parents and other adults promotes greater understanding of a problem showing alarming statistical increases over recent decades: childhood depression. Federal health estimates indicate that as many as 2.5 percent (1.5 million) of all U.S. children under the age of 18 are seriously depressed, according to the authors, who cover such topics as how to tell if a child is at risk; how to spot symptoms; depression's link with other problems; its impact on families; teenage suicide; and finding the right diagnosis, therapist, and treatment. Included is a list of resources and organizations.
"Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, 10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022; 270 pp., $24 hardcover). Through anecdotes about her own children, excerpts from research interviews she has conducted, and clearly synthesized summaries of work by social scientists and other scholars, the author, a psychologist and Mount Holyoke College professor, illuminates the process of racial-identity development as well as a variety of issues at the core of racism and prejudice.
--IHSAN K. TAYLOR