Published Online: November 14, 2006
Published in Print: November 15, 2006, as New in Print

Book Review

New in Print

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Why We Vote: How Schools and Communities Shape Our Civic Life

by David E. Campbell (Princeton University Press,; 288 pp., $39.50 hardback).
Book cover: Why We Vote

In this examination of public engagement in the United States today, Campbell, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, argues that voter turnout is affected not only by people’s desire to protect their own interests—the view traditionally taken by political scientists—but by their feelings of civic obligation as well. Focusing on the latter, he explains how adults’ sense of public duty is to a large degree determined by the civic norms of the communities they lived in during their adolescence. He asserts that future voter turnout could therefore be increased significantly if high schools were to concentrate more on strengthening students’ civic commitment. To that end, Campbell recommends that schools give as much weight to civic education as to other subjects, redefine for students what a “normal” amount of public engagement is, and teach them the responsibilities of being part of a community.


Brick Walls: Reflections on Race in a Southern School District

by Thomas E. Truitt (University of South Carolina Press,; 176 pp., $34.95 hardback).
See Also
See the accompanying excerpt: “Lighting the Path ”
Book Cover: Brick Walls

Truitt, a teacher and school administrator for 43 years, was the superintendent of schools in Florence, S.C., when, during the 1990s, the district enacted a court-ordered integration plan. The catalyst for change, he writes, was the decision to replace an old, dilapidated, and primarily African-American elementary school. He recounts the conflict that ensued, which included contentious public and school board meetings, the NAACP’s twice filing suit against the district’s board of trustees, the redrawing of student-attendance zones, and a shake-up in the procedures for electing board members. Though the elementary school eventually was completed, and the district made substantial progress over the decade in desegregating its schools, the process exposed the community’s ongoing racial divisions. Truitt believes that such tensions are indicative of a growing discord between blacks and whites in South Carolina, and he concludes with a criticism of what he sees as the resegregation of schools in that state and across the nation.

Disadvantaged Students


by Joe Miller (Farrar, Straus & Giroux,; 496 pp., $26 hardback).
Book cover: Cross-X

A journalist, Miller first visited Kansas City (Mo.) Central High School at the request of its student body president, who was frustrated by its negative reputation in the news media. He found an inner-city school in which 99 percent of the students are members of minority groups, less than 1 percent score at the proficient level, and only one-third graduate, but which also is home to a prize-winning debate team that routinely beats nationally known competitors. Miller shadowed the team through its 2002 season and ultimately became an assistant coach as his involvement deepened. In this book, he describes the black debaters, their dedicated white coach, and the obstacles they faced, such as poverty, foster care, and a lack of support from school administrators and in the greater debate community. The team not only challenged its circumstances, but also took on the modern style of debate (in which high-speed recitation of evidence dominates) by emphasizing social issues and wordplay during matches. Miller’s account of the team’s year sheds light on both the state of urban education today and the status of an evolving academic sport.

The Kids From Nowhere: The Story Behind the Arctic Educational Miracle

by George Guthridge (Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of Graphic Arts Center,; 328 pp., $16.95 paperback).

A teacher in a remote Alaskan school on the verge of closure coaches Eskimo students to a first-place finish in a national academic championship.

Also of Note

Feeling Like a Kid: Childhood and Children’s Literature

by Jerry Griswold (Johns Hopkins University Press,; 160 pp., $19.95 hardback).

An analysis of recurring themes in writing for children, from Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter.

Liberty and Learning: Milton Friedman’s Voucher Idea at Fifty

Book cover: Liberty and Learning
edited by Robert C. Enlow & Lenore T. Ealy (Cato Institute,; 170 pp., $14.95 paperback).

Ten education experts and the Nobel Prize-winning economist consider the 21st-century outlook for school choice.

The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals, and the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader

by B. Joseph White with Yaron Prywes (American Management Association,; 192 pp., $21.95 hardback).

The president of the University of Illinois system explains how combining cold-blooded decisionmaking with warmheartedness can enhance performance.

Taking Advice: How Leaders Get Good Counsel and Use It Wisely

by Dan Ciampa (Harvard Business School Press,; 224 pp., $26.95 hardback).

Soliciting and utilizing guidance from others.

Turnaround Leadership

by Michael Fullan (Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley,; 144 pp., $22 paperback).

A noted education reformer discusses system transformation at the school and community, district, and state levels.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Sturgeon: And Other Wrong Things That Kids Write

Book cover: When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Sturgeon
edited by Gini Graham Scott (Sasquatch Books,; 64 pp., $12.95 paperback).

Malapropisms from students of all ages on such weighty topics as love, religion, and missing homework.

Teen Obesity: How Schools Can Be the Number One Solution to the Problem

by William L. Fibkins (Rowman & Littlefield Education,; 230 pp., $24.95 paperback).

Recommendations for improving offerings in food services, physical education, student counseling, and parent outreach.

FastWeb College Gold: The Step-by-Step Guide to Paying for College

by Mark Kantrowitz with Doug Hardy (Collins, an imprint of HarperCollins,; 320 pp., $21.95 paperback).

A financial-aid expert for the popular scholarship-search Web site demystifies higher education financing.

Vol. 26, Issue 12, Page 33

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